A PROTOTYPE OF the new oceanic-sector workstation - the controller's link to the Future Air Navigation System (FANS) - is now in operational testing at the US Federal Aviation Administration's Oakland, California, air-route traffic-control centre.

The workstation, called the telecommunications processor, represents the first phase of the aviation agency's oceanic-data-link (ODL) programme. The prototype provides controllers with an improved capability to manage flight plan data, aircraft-position reports and flight-service data. The unit replaces the flight-data input/output subsystem, which dates back to the 1960s.

The workstation uses an IBM commercial off-the-shelf operating system and allows for further software enhancements. The telecommunications processor was initially installed for testing at the FAA technical centre in Atlantic City, New Jersey. It is scheduled for installation at the New York air-route traffic-control centre later this year.

After single-sector testing, the prototype ODL will begin to be used to handle multiple sectors at Oakland. The tests will allow the FAA to refine a production unit, which will be implemented as part of the FAA's advanced oceanic automation system. The production unit will eventually provide automatic dependent surveillance and reduced separation standards over oceanic airspace.

The controller workstation is being developed together with an aircraft system produced by Boeing and Honeywell. Known as the FANS-1, the onboard avionics package uses two-way satellite communications to provide accurate and direct pilot-to-controller information exchange over oceans and remote areas normally out of range of ground based stations. The FAA and airlines are now running FANS-1 operational trials.

Through the computer display, controllers can link to FANS-1-equipped aircraft, exchanging messages over the satellite network.

Source: Flight International