Duncan Aviation (Booth No. C8543) recently released an update to its “Straight Talk About FANS” e-book, providing operators with information on the Future Air Navigation System component of the FAA’s NextGen ATC modernization effort.
Automatic dependent surveillance-broadcast
According to Newport News, Virginia-based ICG, the FAA has issued the first supplemental type certificate (STC) for an Iridium-based avionics platform on a business jet conforming to the RTCA DO-262A data link standard. DO-262A is the standard required for design approval of data link communications systems supporting air traffic services, per FAA advisory circular AC 20-140A.
Prominent aviation industry figures fear that a list of priorities developed to keep the NextGen ATC modernization effort on track during a time of funding pressure and ongoing “sequestration” budget cuts in the U.S. could undermine the ambitious, two-decade effort.
FreeFlight Systems has interfaced its Model 1201 Waas/GPS sensor with the Garmin GTX 330 mode-S transponder to provide an additional 1090-MHz extended-squitter ADS-B Out upgrade solution for GTX 330 owners. The upgrade solution gives aircraft owners more ADS-B Out equipage choices, depending on their aircraft type, existing avionics and flying requirements. It also ensures compliance with the FAA’s Jan.
American Airlines has spent some $400 million in the past few years to retrofit its existing fleet for the planned NextGen flight environment in the U.S. But at this stage it has not seen the operational benefits it had hoped for, according to the airline’s director of airspace modernization and advanced technologies.
For operators flying with cathode-ray tube RM-850 radio management units with screens that are getting hard to read, Honeywell is offering an upgrade to the RM-855 with a liquid-crystal display (LCD). While Honeywell bought a quantity of the RM-850 displays, “[that] stock has now become depleted,” according to the company. “Honeywell is no longer able to repair units with CRT failures.” The RM-855 is a form, fit and function replacement unit; however, it requires a new mating connector. The existing wires need to be re-pinned into the new connector.
The next steps toward wider introduction of unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) into the U.S. airspace system were within line of sight as the industry gathered for its largest conference last month in Washington, D.C. Federal government officials said that a long-delayed proposed rulemaking for operations of small UAS weighing up to 55 pounds will be released by the end of the year. Also by year-end, the FAA will designate six UAS test ranges in a program sought by 24 states.
Bristow is retrofitting a fleet of 44 Sikorsky S-76C++s and Sikorsky S-92As with Rockwell Collins’s traffic alert and collision avoidance (Tcas II) system. Installations are in progress. A new-generation system, the TTR-4100, will be fitted to 20 of the helicopters. It adds traffic computer capability and enables automatic dependent surveillance-broadcast (ADS-B) in.
The FAA’s NextGen ATC modernization program faces long-term technical risks and still uncertain acceptance by airspace users. But after a decade in development, NextGen could be stalled by a nearer-term threat: substantially reduced funding from Congress. In June, the House appropriations committee released transportation funding legislation for Fiscal Year 2014 that would reduce the FAA’s capital funding account, which supports NextGen programs, to its lowest level since 2000.
The FAA claims the NextGen Air Transportation System initiative is progressing, according to its recently issued NextGen Implementation Plan report, which projects a reduction in delays of 41 percent by the end of the mid-term implementation period in 2020.