Real-time traffic displays based on ADS-B have the potential capability to enhance GA airfield ATS situational awareness and flight safety. The aim of the trial is to gather evidence to enable the CAA to assess this capability and give consideration to authorising use of ADS-B real-time traffic displays by GA ATS units. Additionally, it is hoped this trial will encourage further development of technology to support ATS provision at UK GA airfields.
Enhancing ATS Situation Awareness at GA Airfields
Technology supporting ATS in the monitoring of arriving and departing traffic at large commercial airports has been available for many years. However, it is not economically viable to make available complex radar systems at most GA airfields, where ATS typically operates purely by eye and radio, supplemented by binoculars.
Meanwhile, the capabilities of in-cockpit traffic awareness solutions for GA pilots have made great advances. Particularly important is the development of Automatic Dependent Surveillance – Broadcast (ADS-B), a system which enables aircraft to broadcast their position and altitude with great accuracy. As well as being used for in-flight collision avoidance, the data received can be used to show the location of aircraft on a display screen in the control room of a GA airfield without the need for radar.
The trial will provide a number of UK GA airfields with ADS-B ground receivers and traffic displays, plus CAA-approved portable ADS-B transceivers for some of their most frequently used flying school aircraft. It is anticipated that this ADS-B installation will provide a simple and cost-effective tool to significantly improve flight safety in the vicinity of airfields, where GA pilots are most at risk of mid-air collision.
FASVIG see this trial as an opportunity to demonstrate how ADS-B technology may be exploited to enhance situational awareness at GA airfields, as a first enabler to widespread adoption of electronic conspicuity – in order to advance safety and efficiency, to the benefit of both GA and commercial air transport.
It is anticipated that future GA ATS systems could eventually take on a more active safety role, by assessing collision risk – with other aircraft and with terrain – from the perspective of each aircraft. Subject to future regulatory developments, ATS staff being presented with such information would be enabled to provide even better safety advice to aircraft in the area. In addition, for airfields in proximity to controlled airspace, the system could help reduce airspace infringements.
FASVIG has been working closely on this trial with the CAA and, together with airfield ATS units and flying schools, hope to schedule the trial as soon as possible.
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