The focus of the NextGen Air Transportation System has largely been on the development of satellite-based navigation systems, trajectory-based operations and the various technologies that will form the underlying structure of the nation’s future ATC system. But NextGen’s success is not dependent upon new procedures and inventions.
Avionics and ATC
New developments and products in avionics, specifically about aircraft electronics in the cockpit; and news, issues, personnel, equipment and developments about air traffic management.
OnAir has signed its first executive contract and will provide its Mobile OnAir package for installation in an Airbus A319 owned by a Middle East customer. Using GPRS and GMS networks, the service will provide full voice and data connectivity, allowing in-flight use of BlackBerry-type devices and personal cellphones.
Air France and Paris Charles de Gaulle Airport on September 8 inaugurated a new terminal designed to consolidate traffic operated by the flag carrier’s three regional subsidiaries and increase handling capacity of flights involving five European countries that do not require passport controls with France.
The FAA in late July issued an emergency order of revocation to LAB Flying Service of Juneau, Alaska, effectively shutting down the 52-year-old carrier, which served Alaskans with a fleet of Piper singles and twins, a Britten-Norman Islander and Helio Courier. The revocation order cited a number of discrepancies with LAB’s maintenance
Beginning this October, new-build Boeing 737 jetliners will use GE Aviation Systems flight-management system (FMS) update 10.8 software. The change provides increased navigation database capacity (with room for growth) and accommodates different performance of 737s fitted with winglets. FMSs allow operators to meet required navigation performance standards for separation from the ground or other aircraft.
With the proliferation of UAVs greatly increasing the number of “eyes in the sky,” the flow of video imagery streaming into intelligence centers is turning into a torrent. To help analysts provide timely intelligence, California-based 2d3 Inc. has developed a software suite known as TacitView that turns motion imagery into a more useful product.
Litening III targeting pods supplied by Ultra Electronics to the RAF have successfully completed their first year of service in Iraq. Mounted on Tornado GR4 combat aircraft, the pods are fitted with a ROVER III-compatible video datalink supplied by Ultra, which also manufactured Litening III under license from Rafael.
Eurocontrol has introduced a new screen-to-screen datalink between pilots and air traffic controllers at its Maastricht upper-area control (UAC) center in the Netherlands. The controller-pilot datalink communication (CPDLC) system supplements existing voice contact by allowing text messages between screens in the cockpit and on the ground to reduce workload at both ends.
The FAA flipped the switch on its wide-area augmentation system (WAAS) at 12:01 a.m. on July 10, potentially opening up thousands of runways at 5,400 public-use airports for near-precision approaches in both lateral and vertical guidance modes.
The FAA plans to start introducing instrument approaches using its Wide Area Augmentation System on July 10, bringing much higher levels of accuracy, signal availability and approach performance to GPS-based satnav. WAAS avionics now entering the market herald the end of today’s “dive and drive” nonprecision approaches, replacing them with two new procedures.