Louisville chosen for integrated trial of safety technologies

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Louisville airport in Kentucky has been selected by the US Department of Transportation (DOT) as the national model site for a comprehensive, integrated test of a range of aviation safety, security and efficiency technologies.

The test will involve integrated operation and management by air traffic controllers and the airport of eight or more technologies. The general manager of Louisville airport, Jim Delong, estimates the technology installation will cost a total of about $45 million, not including the $30 million-plus he says by the airport’s main tenant, UPS, has already spent on development of automatic dependent surveillance-broadcast (ADS-B) technology.

Technologies that will feature in the integrated test – which will last for several years - include ADS-B, traffic information services-broadcast (TIS-B), multilateration and traffic advisory and collision alerting systems (TCAS) for a variety of airport capacity-management, vehicle fleet management and anti-collision functions.

Also involved in the integrated test will be the FAA’s new Airport Movement Area Surveillance System (AMASS), a radar system designed to help controllers reduce the number and severity of runway incursions.

So too will a new “keep ’em high” technology, using the vertical navigation components of aircraft flight management systems, that the FAA is developing with UPS and Boeing to provide pilots with initial approaches at constant rates of descent to points of interception with the airport’s instrument landing system (ILS) glidepath.

This new technology, being modeled at New York JFK but to be flight-tested for the first time at Louisville, is designed to minimize aircraft noise over densely populated areas and to reduce aircraft fuel burn.

Another new technology to feature in the Standiford Field test will be application of a mathematical model under development by the Mitre Corporation’s Center for Advanced Aviation Systems Development to predict the position, drift and duration of aircraft wake turbulence in varying wind conditions. This is a technology that has gained significant new relevance for airports following the American Airlines flight 587 crash last November, in which wake turbulence from a Boeing 747 might have played a role.

The Standiford Field trials will also involve testing by the DOT’s Transportation Security Administration of new security technologies to address a range of issues, particularly ways of preventing unauthorized people, animals and vehicles from gaining access to the airport operations area and of handling these security breaches when they happen.

Delong tells ATI the test has been made possible by the FAA’s agreement earlier this year to appropriate $5 million for installation of a Lockheed Martin Common ARTS IIIE air traffic control automation system at the airport.

Louisville is slated to become one of the major US airports at which Raytheon’s Standard Terminal Automation Replacement System (STARS) is installed. However, the airport told the FAA it would rather have Common ARTS IIIE in the short term because it was a proven existing automation platform into which all of the new test technologies could be integrated for operational evaluation and use.

Installation of Common ARTS IIIE at Louisville will begin next month and will be completed by June 2003, Delong says. A UPS spokesman points out the Louisville trial will therefore include the operational certification of ADS-B with the Common ARTS IIIE system.

He also says installation of antennae at the airport for the aircraft position-finding multilateration test is nearly complete and although it will not be certificated till later this year the system is already operational. Flight-testing of the ‘keep ’em high’ approach technique will begin in October. Initial testing of the wake turbulence modeling technique is underway at Dallas/Fort Worth and it will enter the Louisville test program in 14-15 months’ time.

Delong reveals that Kentucky US Congressman Harold Rogers, a prime motive force for the integrated test, is seeking authorization in the FY2003 and FY2004 Department of Defense budgets to have the Kentucky National Guard’s Lockheed C-130s – based at Standiford Field – fitted with ADS-B and moving map display avionics.

This is because Rogers feels strongly that the development of ADS-B and TIS-B positional technology to allow efficiencies such as closer spacing of parallel runways for instrument flight rules operations, timed departure spacing and improved airport surface situation awareness is as relevant for military operations as it is for civil aviation.