Emma Kelly/LONDON

Eurocontrol is sending questionnaires to all users of European airspace to determine operators' ability to meet Europe's airborne collision avoidance system (ACAS II) mandate, which takes effect from 1 January, 2000.

The European ACAS mandate calls for all civil fixed-wing turbine-engined aircraft with a maximum take-off weight exceeding 15,000kg, or with more than 30 seats, operating in European Civil Aviation Conference (ECAC) airspace to carry the latest Version 7 traffic collision and avoidance system (TCAS) equipment from 12000. All aircraft exceeding 5,700kg, or more than 19 seats, must carry Version 7 equipment from 1 January, 2005.

Earlier this year, the delay in the US Federal Aviation Administration issuing the technical standard order for Version 7 equipment and subsequent problems with equipment availability, installation and certification issues forced Eurocontrol to introduce an ACAS implementation transition period. Operators have until 31 March, 2001, to equip their aircraft with Version 7. Until that is available, Eurocontrol advises airlines to install the current equipment - Version 6.04a - and upgrade to Version 7 during the transition period. Eurocontrol estimates that 45% of the fleet operating in ECAC airspace is fitted with Version 6.04a.

The March 2001 deadline is a challenge, but achievable, says John Law, Eurocontrol's ACAS programme manager. The European air navigation organisation has established an ACAS Support Unit as a point of contact for all ACAS matters and to provide a transition period exemptions co-ordination service. ACAS provides Europe with an opportunity to "reduce the risk of mid-air or near mid-air collisions by at least a factor of two", he adds.

Source: Flight International