Farnborough Air Show

L-3 Aviation Products Meeting NextGen Mandates

 - July 17, 2014, 12:35 AM

This year, L-3 Aviation (Chalet A10-15) should generate more than $500 million in sales, according to Ralph DeMarco, v-p of marketing and sales. The five divisions include Aviation Communication and Surveillance Systems (ACSS) in Phoenix, Arizona, which is an L-3 and Thales joint venture; L-3 Aviation Recorders in Sarasota, Florida; L-3 Avionics Systems in Grand Rapids, Michigan; L-3 Display Systems in Alpharetta, Georgia; and L-3 Electronics Systems Services in Canada.

Here at Farnborough, Airbus recognized ACSS as one of its top five suppliers and also the most improved supplier for 2013 at an awards ceremony held on July 15. “This is a testament to the dedication of the ACSS and Thales avionics teams in supporting our products worldwide,” said Terry Flaishans, president of ACSS. Airbus’ supplier ranking was based on input from 111 airline operators.

As mandates for NextGen equipment push operators to upgrade their avionics, the five divisions making up L-3 Aviation Products are positioned to meet those needs. The key new mandate is for automatic dependent surveillance-broadcast (ADS-B) out equipment, with some countries in Southeast Asia plus Canada and Australia already implementing ADS-B operations at certain altitudes. The European mandate begins in January 2015 for new aircraft and December 2017 for in-service aircraft, followed by U.S. airspace on Jan. 1, 2020.

Helping meet the mandate are ACSS’s ADS-B out NXT series transponders, which recently received FAA TSO approval. The NXT-600 is DO-260B- and DO181E-compliant, which meets FAA and Eurocontrol ADS-B out requirements. The NXT-600 was selected as standard equipment for Bombardier’s Q400 and ATR’s 42/72-600 models and will begin flying on these aircraft in the first quarter of 2015.

L-3 certified the first ADS-B out transponder in 2012 and is working with a number of airlines on upgrade programs, including JetBlue (35 A320s), US Airways (20 A330s) and UPS (747, 757, 767, A300 and MD11).

Cornerstone of SESAR

ADS-B is a cornerstone of NextGen and SESAR [single European sky air traffic management research],” said DeMarco. ADS-B-equipped aircraft transmit position, speed and intent information to air traffic controllers and other aircraft. If an aircraft is equipped with ADS-B in as well, it can view traffic information from other nearby targets. The advantage of ADS-B over existing radar surveillance systems is that ADS-B information is sent once per second versus the update rate of every four seconds or more of typical secondary surveillance radar systems. Also ADS-B can work anywhere that an aircraft can datalink its position information to the ground, including in non-radar areas over oceans and remote land areas (generally via satcom where VHF is not available).

ACSS doesn’t just concentrate on the ADS-B out market, however, and has developed a suite of ADS-B in applications called “SafeRoute.” These applications are hosted on ACSS’s 3000SP TCAS or its T3CAS, which combines TCAS, TAWS, transponder and ADS-B all in one LRU.

SafeRoute ADS-B in features can be delivered on a variety of cockpit displays. The U.S. Navy selected the TCAS 3000SP coupled to the P-3 cockpit’s primary flight displays, as part of a P-3C, EP-3E and P-3 SPA upgrade program that is the first application of SafeRoute in a military flight operations platform. The P-3 application is also the first time that SafeRoute has been displayed in the pilot’s forward field of view. All previous SafeRoute implementations have been displayed on electronic flight bags, according to ACSS.

While there is no mandate for ADS-B in applications like SafeRoute, DeMarco sees benefits from widespread adoption of ADS-B out. “ADS-B in becomes more robust with more ADS-B out in the field,” he explained. “This will happen in the next three to five years, and that’s one of the key points of getting more broad implementation of ADS-B.”

SafeRoute applications include interval management, in-trail procedures (ITP), cockpit display of traffic information assisted visual separation (CAVS) and surface area movement management (SAMM). Airlines have already certified and have been flying with these SafeRoute applications on Airbus A330s and Boeing 757s and 767s. Delta Air Lines 767s use ITP on three 767s, while US Airways is flying CAVS into Philadelphia International Airport in 20 A330s. The P-3s are using another SafeRoute application, enhanced visual acquisition (EVAcq), which “provides the crew traffic passive surveillance ranges beyond 100 nm,” according to ACSS.

L-3 Aviation Recorders announced that Airbus received certification of the L-3 AFIRS 228S for the A320 family. AFIRS (automated flight information and reporting system) is an Iridium satcom that delivers cockpit voice and data services, including for air traffic control, aeronautical operational control and air-to-air communication as well as ACARS-over-Iridium messaging. The A320 program was done in partnership with FLYHT Aerospace Solutions. “We’re hoping to expand this beyond the single-aisle Airbus family,” said DeMarco.