Steve Nichols  

The three words on avionics suppliers' lips at Farnborough this year are "safety, safety and safety".  

As Guy Norris reports in this week's Flight International, the US Federal Aviation Administration expects "a serious accident every few weeks by 2015" unless major changes are made in the way safety-related systems are implemented.  

While navigation systems are being installed on a much wider scale than they have been, avionic safety systems have yet to be adopted as a "must have" by many airlines.  

Norris says figures show that, of all the aircraft accidents involving controlled flight into terrain (CFIT) between 1988 and 1995, 31% of aircraft had no ground proximity warning systems installed. Of the remainder, 28% were preparing to land and therefore had no warning.  

One reason navigation has taken priority over safety is that the former has traditionally been handled by an integrated system. Safety, however, has been handled by a piecemeal collection of Ground Proximity Warning Systems (GPWS), Traffic Alert and Collision Avoidance Systems (TCAS) and others.  

Airframe space and weight limitations mean navigation systems usually get priority. The solution may be for safety systems to follow the integrated approach of navigation systems.  

The size, weight and power savings could be significant, but it would also help the flight crew who could then deal with a single system.  

US-based AlliedSignal (Hall 4, Stand F8) thinks it has the answer with its Integrated Hazard Avoidance System (IHAS) concept. This combines EGPWS and TCAS, plus multi-function radar, but is unlikely to be in production until 2001.  

The company is, however, combining EGPWS with forward-looking windshear detection radar in a joint venture with Boeing to give pilots what is being euphemistically called, "Rocks and Weather" priority.

Source: Flight Daily News