With global shipping giant UPS leading the way, business jet operators may soon be able to take advantage of the latest GPS-based navigation system that allows company aircraft to operate more efficiently and safely in the terminal environment.
Developed for UPS by Aviation Communications and Surveillance Systems (ACSS), a joint venture of L-3 Communications and Thales, the SafeRoute system incorporates a special display on an electronic flight bag (EFB) showing the position of all other appropriately equipped aircraft. Pilots can use the information on the display to essentially self-separate with guidance, but not instructions, from air traffic control.
SafeRoute is a set of automatic dependent surveillance-broadcast (ADS-B) software applications that, in July, UPS received FAA approval to use after extensive flight testing at its Louisville, Ky. hub. Using the system, aircraft are able to fly continuous descent arrival (CDA) procedures and then self-separate on final approach. While flying a CDA approach, a pilot can reduce power to idle during most of the descent to save fuel, and once on the ground can use the SafeRoute system’s surface area movement management (SAMM) utility to prevent runway incursions–a hot-button topic for the FAA.
The benefit of all of this to business aviation is that the FAA has approved a plan to put the SAMM moving map with traffic surveillance onto Class II electronic flight bags, which are already used by many business aviation crews today. UPS uses more expensive Class III EFBs in its SafeFlight implementation. FAA Advisory Circular 120-76A outlines the criteria for certification, airworthiness and operational approval of both portable and installed EFBs. Class III EFBs must be permanently installed in the aircraft, whereas Class I or II EFBs are considered portable electronic devices.
During a demonstration of the technology at UPS’ Louisville hub, company pilots showed off the technology’s benefits on one of the shipping giant’s Boeing 757s. The UPS fleet of 757s, 767s and 747-400s are being fitted with SafeRoute avionics and electronic flight bag computers that let pilots see flight information from other UPS airplanes, a boon for safety on the ground. In the air, UPS crews can follow other airplanes on precise paths to touchdown by using self-separation techniques made possible by the ADS-B link.