Kieran Daly/LONDON

Europe and the USA are once again set for a clash of wills over a key component of the technology to be used in the satellite based Future Air Navigation System (FANS).

At an International Civil Aviation Association (ICAO) panel meeting starting this week, European interests will confront what they see as a US Federal Aviation Administration attempt to kill off the potential use of a Swedish-developed digital VHF datalink in automatic dependent surveillance-broadcast (ADS-B) - which is one of the crucial elements of the FANS.

Fears in Europe are that the FAA is manoeuvring to have the largely US developed Mode-S datalink adopted for ADS-B in its place.

The row centres on FAA attempts to have the ICAO validation process for the Swedish STDMA datalink moved from the Aeronautical Mobile Communications Panel (AMCP) into a different panel dealing with navigation and surveillance.

The FAA says that the proposal "-is not as drastic or dire as it may sound", insisting that the move is little more than an administrative exercise, but European officials say that the delay would put back the validation effort irretrievably and give a lead to Mode-S.

A US position paper for the forthcoming AMCP/5 meeting in Montreal proposes that the Mode-S-based system should be adopted as the ICAO standard for future surveillance systems. The FAA argues that the VHF band, in which the STDMA datalink operates, is too congested.

In Europe, extensive STDMA trials are under way with airlines including German flag carrier Lufthansa and Scandinavia's SAS, as well as a range of national aviation authorities and Eurocontrol. Officials say that STDMA datalinking will help alleviate the frequency congestion issue by reducing the dependence on existing communication and navigation aids.

Source: Flight International