Honeywell Helps Europe Meet Future ATM Needs

 - October 27, 2011, 10:00 AM
Honeywell's SmartPath ground-based augmentation system provides the enhanced accuracy and integrity needed to support precision approaches.

Honeywell, the only U.S. company to be chosen as an original member of the Sesar Joint Undertaking tasked with developing technologies for post-2020 air traffic management in Europe, demonstrated work in progress at its research center in the Czech city of Brno last week.

One project is an initial four-dimensional (I4-D) trajectory planning system involving the flight management system (FMS) and communications management unit. Incorporating time into 3-D route planning and coordinating flight plans to eliminate conflicts has an effect analogous to turning every traffic light green on the drive home from the office, said Honeywell Aerospace president EMEAI Paolo Carmassi. The result should be shorter flight times and reduced fuel burn.

Honeywell is also developing a new multi-constellation global navigation satellite system (GNSS) receiver that will combine signals from the established U.S. GPS and nascent European Galileo constellations for improved positioning precision and reliability. Its SmartPath ground-based augmentation system (GBAS), which transmits correction signals to further improve GNSS accuracy, already supports Category I precision approaches and is being developed to support Category III.

VHF frequency congestion and the limited bandwidth afforded by existing datalinks such as VDL Mode 2 means a new ATM-dedicated satellite communications channel will be needed to handle the exchange of huge amounts of safety-critical information. In that context Honeywell is working on an airborne user terminal for the European Space Agency's IRIS satcom system.

More efficient use of airspace demands reduced lateral separations, particularly in remote and oceanic areas. Honeywell's TCAS-based SmartTraffic technology enables the aircraft FMS to maintain a specified interval behind another aircraft while providing crews with visual awareness of location, relative altitude and travel direction within a 40-nm radius. Its merging and spacing capability also contributes to increased airport arrival capacity by reducing controller workload.

Honeywell is addressing poor visibility—a major cause of delays and diversions—by adding infrared camera imagery (enhanced vision) to a synthetic view of the terrain ahead derived from the EGPWS database (synthetic vision) to produce a combined vision system (CVS).

"Nobody would dream of driving a car by looking only at the GPS," said Carmassi of the CVS. "The database stops you from getting lost, but at intersections you need to know whether the traffic light is green or red. The infrared camera shows that the runway is where it's supposed to be and free of obstacles, enhancing the awareness of the pilot and allowing many more flights to be completed."