Trial will explore new air traffic management capabilities

Authorities in the Gulf region are drawing up plans for an operational trial of the FANS-1/A navigation system within Arabian airspace, expected to take place next year.

Details are still being finalised, but a draft document sets out a two-phase trial, which aims to explore new air traffic management capabilities - such as controller-pilot datalink and automatic dependent surveillance - within a controlled environment.

It would also assist with assessing the benefits of air-ground datalink, particularly within Saudi Arabian airspace, and developing appropriate procedures.

The first phase - probably lasting a month - would be conducted on designated routes from the Bay of Bengal, crossing the Arabian Sea and Saudi Arabian peninsula, towards North Africa and Morocco.

Under a second phase, additional capabilities, such as user-preferred routes, would be implemented in the region.

Participating air traffic centres will be equipped to handle the functions available to aircraft equipped with FANS-1/A avionics - the system developed to increase navigational efficiency, particularly in remote regions.

It is expected that Riyadh approach centre will host a trial datalink system that will exchange simple information messages with aircraft under the control of the Jeddah en-route centre.

The plan calls for candidate routes to be firmed up before the end of this year. Airlines whose fleets are equipped with FANS-1/A systems will be invited to participate in the trial.

Development of the trial follows a proposal at an IATA seminar in Cairo earlier this year that such a test should be initiated by around June 2007.

Source: Flight International