Air Berlin chooses ACSS for environmental, safety upgrade

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Air Berlin has signed an agreement with US-based ACSS to equip a portion of its new Boeing 737NG fleet with the company's SafeRoute automatic dependent surveillance broadcast (ADS-B)-based advanced navigation system, the first application of the software suite in Europe, says ACSS.

ACSS trials with Air Berlin are scheduled for early 2010.

The Arizona-based company, a joint venture between L-3 Communications and Thales, says SafeRoute's merging and spacing function will allow Air Berlin to fly continuous descent arrival (CDA) procedures, also known as optimum performance descents, which in the US have been shown to reduce noise footprints on an approach by 30%, lower emissions by 34% and reduce fuel burn by 40-70 gallons per arrival.

Those statistics are based on year-long trials by UPS, which was the launch customer for the ACSS software. More than 80 flights were operated in 2008 on UPS Boeing 757s/767s equipped for CDA and merging and spacing procedures.

Air Berlin will also get access to SafeRoute's surface area movement management (SAMM) software and universal cockpit display of traffic information (UCDTI) with associated assisted visual separation under the agreement. ACSS says the software will "virtually eliminate" low-level vectoring and increase arrival performance to nearly 100% of available capacity in compromised weather conditions.

Flight's ACAS database shows that Air Berlin currently has 50 737s in its fleet and another 81 on order. Combined with Airbus A320-family aircraft, the airline has 89 aircraft in total and 138 on order.

US Airways will also begin using SafeRoute to display traffic at the Philadelphia International Airport in a number of new Airbus A330s as part of a $6 million pilot program funded by the US FAA.