Eurocontrol says airport operations study shows accident rates could be halved

Pan-European air navigation safety agency Eurocontrol is to present a set of proposals to the International Civil Aviation Organisation on implementation of advanced ground-guidance concepts, after an investigation concluded that such systems could halve accident rates.

The long-running study centres on advanced surface-movement guidance and control systems (A-SMGCS) and forms part of the Eurocontrol airport operations programme, a project which also covers runway safety, capacity and collaborative decision making.

Its aim has been to identify all issues relating to operational implementation, develop appropriate procedures, and build both safety and human factors cases.

A-SMGCS comprises four functions – surveillance, conflict-detection, routeing and guidance – and is designed to improve air traffic controllers’ situational awareness. A number of manufacturers are working on systems to deliver the objectives Eurocontrol envisages.

Northrop Grumman, for example, describes its solution as providing the tower controller with “a multi-sensor data fusion system” that displays the entire airport layout, and everything that moves on it, in real time. The company says: “Displayed information can include identification, aircraft number, vehicle type/number, operator, aircraft-derived position, speed and intent.” It will be able to integrate future systems inputs as well as existing ones, the company adds.

Five airports have taken part in operational trials – Frankfurt, London Heathrow, Paris Charles de Gaulle, Vienna and Zurich – to support validation efforts. Participants in the study have concentrated on two out of four levels of A-SMGCS operation defined by the programme.

The first of these two levels relates to the general improvement of surveillance and procedures, such as the identification of traffic and air traffic control clearances, while the second examines alerts and aircraft conflict-avoidance.

“We are very pleased that the results of the trials have been so positive,” says A-SMGCS project manager Paul Adamson. “It means we can make clear proposals to ICAO on how to move forward with implementing this technology, which will have clear safety benefits.”

Eurocontrol is planning to present its proposals to ICAO at the end of this year.

Source: Flight International