The crowded air routes around the Gulf’s three hub airports are among the most challenging in the world for pilots, and technology that increases situational awareness in the cockpit could be a major safety benefit.
That is the view of L3Harris, which, through its 70%-owned ACSS joint venture with Thales, is promoting at the show its SafeRoute+ retrofit package for automatic dependent surveillance – broadcast In, which it is installing in more than 300 American Airlines Airbus A320s.
Although ADS-B Out – where an aircraft broadcasts information about itself – is being mandated in the USA and Europe next year for most flights, ADS-B In technology – the reception of data from nearby aircraft – remains optional, and Airbus and Boeing offer it on new aircraft. However, most in-service airliners do not have ADS-B In capabilities, and it is on the retrofit opportunity that ACSS is focused.
In September and October, ACSS completed flight tests of the technology on two American A321s during 4h flight tests from Phoenix Sky Harbor Airport. Once supplemental type approval has been received, engineers will begin fitting the kit to 319 of the carrier’s narrowbodies over the next four years.
The contract with American is the first breakthrough for ACSS, which was set up in 2000. An earlier programme with the then-US Airways was abandoned around a decade ago after a handful of aircraft were outfitted.