US Airways Certifies NextGen SafeRoute

 - May 13, 2013, 11:00 AM
US Airways will start using the SafeRoute suite of NextGen-compliant navigation aids on its Airbus A330s operating on transatlantic routes. (Photo: Airbus)

Last month US Airways became the first airline to receive FAA certification approval of the SafeRoute suite of NextGen avionics applications in the Airbus A330. The airline claims SafeRoute will “enhance operational safety and efficiency during various phases of flight.”

Developed by the airline in cooperation with Aviation Communication & Surveillance Systems (ACSS), an L-3 Communications and Thales joint venture, SafeRoute features automatic dependent surveillance-broadcast and four new cockpit applications–interval management, in-trail procedures, cockpit display of traffic information to assist in visual separation, and surface area movement management. These systems are designed to provide the following benefits:

Interval management makes use of onboard aircraft surveillance to provide flight deck spacing commands that enable aircraft to follow one another at the safest, most efficient interval possible, from cruise altitude to the runway.

In-trail procedures improve situational awareness and enable flight crews to perform desired altitude changes more frequently in oceanic or non-radar airspace.

Cockpit display of traffic information to assist in visual separation allows the flight crew to continue visual approach procedures using the electronic display to maintain separation if visual contact with traffic-to-follow is lost in haze or darkness. It also assists the flight crew in properly timing the deceleration to final approach speed, configuring the aircraft for landing and properly spacing aircraft on the final approach segment just before landing.

Surface area movement management provides a moving-map display of the airport surface in the cockpit that shows other traffic operating in the terminal, taxi and runway areas, thereby improving runway safety.

“A lot of time and hard work has been invested by the US Airways team, ACSS, the FAA and Eurocontrol in reaching this milestone,” said US Airways executive vice president and COO Robert Isom. “US Airways is proud to partner with these organizations to help demonstrate the benefits of NextGen technology.”

US Airways plans to use the SafeRoute-equipped A330s on routes between the U.S. and Europe. The new technology will help US Airways broaden use of new NextGen airspace design, including continuous or optimized profile descents (OPDs) that eliminate traditional step-down approaches while reducing fuel burn and emissions. Developed with the FAA and airline partners (US Airways among them), OPDs are currently in use at Phoenix Sky Harbor and Reagan National in Washington, D.C. (DCA) and are being implemented at Charlotte, N.C.

US Airways spokesman Todd Lehmacher said OPDs will save the airline an estimated $2.8 million in fuel annually at DCA alone. OPDs have the added benefit of reducing communication, clogged frequencies and ATC workload.


Pilot-centric "interval management" and "in-trail procedures" don't work. They cause the same sort of accordion-like compression/expansion behavior seen on highways.

Don't most accidents happen on landing and take off?
If pilots know what is around them when landing and taking off
and what is on the ground, maybe in their path, wouldn't that
make a difference. Objects on the runway (other aircraft of any size)
could be detected.

What's funny is that USAirways said this will save $2.8 Million at DCA alone, but USAirways doesn't operate the A330 at DCA, the airplane that is getting this software.

what are the drawback???

what are the drawback???

OPDs can be flown in aircraft without SafeRoute. The system does make it easier, however.

OPDs can be flown without SafeRoute but aircraft have to be put further apart reducing capacity. Interval Management and In Trail Procedures do work and there is no accordion behavior.

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