Joint venture aims to offer wide range of systems for civil and military markets by 2007

ACSS has revealed ambitious plans to develop a wide range of new surveillance and communications systems for the air transport, regional airline, business aviation and military markets by 2007.

The Phoenix-based L-3 and Thales joint venture company is close to completing certification of its combined terrain and traffic collision avoidance system (T2CAS), and has embarked on the development of its next-generation traffic alert and collision avoidance system, the TCAS 3000, which will be completed by mid-2004.

TCAS 3000 will build on a common computing platform derived from T2CAS, adding a new radio frequency capability, re-using the unit's more advanced processor and rehosting TCAS software.

"With the advent of CNS/ATM [communications, navigation and surveillance/air traffic management], the industry changed from being box-driven to function-driven and this allows us to apply functions to multiple platforms," says ACSS president Joe Hoffman.

The strategy also supports ACSS's longer-term goal of branching out into new territory through new spin-off organic developments, alliances and acquisitions. "We are primarily into surveillance, but we'd like to grow more into communications," adds Hoffman.

The plan largely rests on the current TCAS products, 9,000 of which have been sold and delivered. Although most of these were built by Honeywell before the formation of ACSS almost three years ago, production of the TCAS 2000 will continue to support market needs, says Hoffman. "I fully expect to build TCAS units in quantity for the next several years," he adds.

The TCAS 2000 system, more than 6,000 of which are in service, can be replaced with the T2CAS, while the TCAS 3000, launched for Dassault's Falcon 7X project, "will also be backwards compatible", says Hoffman.

Based on the common computing platform-derived TCAS 3000, ACSS's next planned step in 2004 is expected to be a T2CAS 3000, combining the improved TCAS with the predictive terrain awareness warning system (TAWS) functionality being developed for T2CAS.

Within a year ACSS plans to host Mode S transponder functionality in the same unit and develop a new product dubbed T3CAS. Further developments, possibly timed for 2005-06, include a possible L-band feature with hosted distance measuring equipment, and an integrated hazard warning system with weather radar.

All products are expected to be offered with several new features, including runway incursion protection, surface area management, parallel runway approach capability, Mode 5 software and automatic dependent surveillance-broadcast (ADS-B). For military applications the new features will include the military airborne surveillance system, a form of enhanced TCAS, and identification friend or foe.

T2CAS 3000 is for applications such as China's ARJ21 regional jet and the US MC2A surveillance aircraft. The T3CAS is aimed at the Airbus Military A400M, maritime patrol aircraft and possible Bombardier and Embraer regional jet developments. The integrated hazard system is for projects such as Boeing's Super Efficient Airplane, the Airbus A380 and potential "next-generation" A320 and A340 family aircraft.

Source: Flight International