Airborne Express has joined FedEx Express in breaking ranks with fellow US Cargo Airline Association (CAA) members and deciding to equip its freighters with the traffic alert and collision avoidance system (TCAS).

Rockwell Collins will provide 113 of the latest Version 7 TCAS 2 units for Airborne's McDonnell Douglas DC-8s and DC-9s and Boeing 767s.

Three years ago, FedEx Express elected to equip its 334 freighters with TCAS to meet international requirements, while backing the CAA's development of an automatic dependent surveillance-broadcast (ADS-B) collision avoidance system. United Parcel Service, which champions the development, has TCAS on around 80aircraft flying international routes, but is also acquiring ADS-B systems made by its subsidiary UPS Aviation Technologies.

Passenger aircraft operating in US airspace must already fly with TCAS, but new laws require TCAS 2 or an equivalent system to be fitted on US registered cargo aircraft by the end of next year. The US Federal Aviation Administration has yet to rule on whether ADS-B can substitute for TCAS 2.

The FAA is under pressure from the National Transportation Safety Board, which believes ADS-B cannot perform to TCAS standards and will take too long to implement. Industry sources say Airborne Express felt compelled to comply now.

Source: Flight International