Airbus and ACSS successful in oceanic ADS-B trials

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Airbus and avionics provider ACSS recently completed successful demonstrations of in-trail surveillance and efficiency boosting capabilities of automatic dependent surveillance broadcast (ADS-B) on trans-Atlantic crossings using an Airbus company A340 and another aircraft in revenue service.

While specifics of the flight have not yet been released, ACSS Marketing Manager Mark Salazar tells Flight International that pilots were able to see in-trail traffic at distances of up to 200nm, allowing pilots the opportunity to optimize altitudes and routes for either fuel savings or ride comfort. Traffic information was also data-linked to the ground during the flights.

The test was part of the broader Eurocontrol effort to demonstrate the operational benefits of bringing automatic dependent surveillance broadcast (ADS-B) information into the cockpit, particularly in the non-radar environment. ACSS, through Airbus, is providing air traffic situational awareness (ATSAW) applications for the program.

With ADS-B, an aircraft automatically broadcasts its GPS position information and identification data, providing a higher fidelity alternative surveillance means to radar. The technology also offers efficiency-boosting opportunities when the same data is brought into the cockpit.

Such ADS-B “in” applications are the cornerstone of the ACSS’s SafeRoute offering, which US cargo carrier UPS pilots are now using for continuous descent arrivals, cockpit display-assisted visual traffic separation and for precise situational awareness cues on the ground at the carrier’s hub in Louisville, Kentucky.

ACSS is now developing similar capabilities for Airbus as part of the T3CAS integrated surveillance and safety system the airframer will certify for its entire A320, A330 and A340 aircraft models in the late 2009 timeframe.

T3CAS includes traffic alert collision avoidance, terrain awareness and a Mode S transponder with ADS-B capabilities. ACSS plans to deliver T3CSS with ADS-B “in” software applications that include in-trail procedures, vertical separation on approach a surface position and traffic awareness program. Each software application will be activated through Airbus service bulletins, says Salazar.

Airbus has not yet disclosed how it plans to display the ADS-B information in the cockpit.