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COMMUNICATION INFRASTRUCTURE: Aviation Needs  a Changeover

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VoicenData Bureau
New Update

The air transport industry has developed a new operational concept for the

Air Traffic Management (ATM) system, which involves dramatic changes to the

airplanes, infrastructure, and ground systems. The current ATM system (based on

ground navigational aids, radar, and voice communications) will be unable to

cope with the expected air traffic growth.

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The industry has responded by developing an operational concept known as the

Future Air Navigation System (FANS), which relies on space-based navigation and

communication to provide the improvements needed in communication, navigation,

and surveillance (CNS) to efficiently cope with future traffic levels and to

provide a level of efficiency to current operations.

The

FANS concept broke new technical ground, as it required industry to consider ATM

as a system with ground components, space components, and airborne components.

The International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) FANS committee also

committed to certain technical solutions for improvements to CNS such as

Aeronautical Telecommunications Network (ATN), GPS navigation, and satellite

communications. The ATM system must not only be considered as a system; it must

also be considered as an investment opportunity.

The concept moves the airspace concept from a centralized command-and-control

system between pilots and air traffic controllers to a distributed system that

allows pilots, whenever practical, to choose their own route and file a flight

plan that follows the most efficient and economical route.

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Key Elements of the Proposed CNS ATM Infrastructure

n Communications:

Transition to digital air/ground communications from today’s analog radios

n Navigation: Transition

to a Global Positioning System (GPS)-based navigation and landing and subsequent

decommissioning of ground-based navaids and precision approach aids.

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n Surveillance: Transition

from ground-based surveillance to dependent cooperative surveillance of

GPS-derived position

n Air Traffic Management: Transition

from existing en route and traffic management to common Air Traffic Management

(ATM) platforms, consistent user interfaces, and common of support software.

The other principal transitions are:

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n Transition of existing terminal

automation infrastructure to new systems, based on commercially available

hardware and software

n Implementation of new

capabilities such as conflict probe, conflict resolution, and collaborative

decision making.

n Transition to integrated

displays and information processing in air traffic control towers.

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n Replacement of existing oceanic

automation/displays and introduction of data link to allow reduced separation

standards in the oceanic domain.

n Installation of flight service

automation to enable pilots to plan and file flight plans without reliance on

flight service specialists.

These new systems will support free flight operational capabilities at a

significantly lower cost than operating a ground-based CNS infrastructure.

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The transition to CNS/ATM systems will be one of the largest undertakings

ever carried out by the aviation community, not only because of the immense

scale of the change but also because the transition will fundamentally affect

how aviation administrations provide air traffic services.

A broad indication of how the transition might proceed:

n 2000-2005: Full CNS/ATM

services available in parallel with existing systems so that appropriately

equipped aircraft can have maximum operating benefits from the CNS/ATM systems.

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n 2005-2010: The

international terrestrial system not required for the CNS/ATM systems

progressively dismantled

n 2010: The CNS/ATM

systems are the sole systems for international use. In any such transition

timetable, there will be a period when the CNS/ATM systems and the existing

terrestrial systems are operating in parallel. While this period allows for

aircraft operators to change their equipment, and for service providers to phase

out those ground facilities which will no longer be required, maintaining two

systems is very costly. The costs associated with the transition are therefore

an important component of the economic assessment of the CNS ATM systems.

The providers of air traffic control services, the users of these services,

and financing organizations all need to be advised of the financial

implications, and convinced of the economic viability, of the new CNS/ATM

systems.

The international developments happening are in the implementation of the

National Air Space (NAS) architecture of the US, Eurocontrol of European

Consortium and parts of Asia-Pacific have completed Phase 1 of FANS. The

standard development organizations involved are FAA, ICAO, ARINC, SITA, RTCA,

IATA, EUROCONTROL and INMARSAT.

Efficiency Benefits due to CNS ATM

n The improved navigation,

communications and surveillance brought about by implementation of CNS/ATM will

allow more direct routing of aircraft, which will generate savings in fuel cost

and other aircraft operating costs. The amount of these savings will depend on

the reduction in the number of aircraft-hours flown in the airspace as a result

of CNS/ATM and on aircraft operating costs per hour.

n Communications and navigation

improvements, which produce more direct flight paths and less delay from

airspace congestion, will reduce the passenger travel time for a given journey.

If passengers value these time savings, they represent an additional benefit.

n FANS will revolutionize the

economics of airline operations whilst offering enormous benefits to air traffic

control agencies, as well as to national economies.

n Through FANS implementation,

the rising demand for air travel will be met, at a higher level of safety

n Congestion and delays should

decrease, with airport and airspace capacity being used as efficiently as

possible.

n Airlines will be able to fly

more efficient routes, thus reducing their fuel and other operating costs.

n Air navigation service

providers will be able to reduce the number of expensive ground based navigation

aids. Improved air transport efficiencies will make a positive contribution to

economies.

Sanjeev Goel CEO and technology

trainer Center for Technology Training

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