[Update] ADS-B Air-to-Air capabilities

Updating my previous post, I had a chance to look at the FAA’s final Statement of Objectives (link to word doc here) related to the ADS-B Performance Requirments contract that will be awarded in the next six weeks. I have to be honest: Between the acronym soup and the agency-speak, it’s pretty hard to wade your way through the content.

Anyway, there are a few intriguing nuggets. For one, the following graph highlights the two very different goals of this project: (1) Make arrivals safer, and (2) promote ADS-B.

FAA has a need for acceleration of ADS-B air-to-air applications, specifically in the area of surface conflict detection and cockpit alert capabilities to reduce number of runway incursions with additional consideration of incorporating arrival applications.

These needs are consistent with the National Transportation Safety Board’s concern with runway safety and FAA’s desire to stimulate early adoption of ADS-B by the Airlines.

Another item of interest is the diagram explaining how the timelines of the two sponsoring organizations (FAA and RTCA) will intersect. Before looking at this diagram, I had not really appreciated how pivotal the RTCA’s role will be.

FAA/RTCA diagram

FAA/RTCA diagram

If I understand this correctly, the RTCA will provide a draft definition of the operational and environmental framework as it is understood today. Then, the vendor will develop the key components that, taken together, provide a complete conceptual solution for evaluating safety/hazard and system performance issues. It’s interesting that this entire phase of the project appears to be under the aegis of the RTCA.

One final note. According to the Statement of Objectives, all of this ground work is meant to come to fruition in February 2010 during a demonstration at a “medium to high density airport” of the vendor’s choosing. The vendor must expect to show system functionality for the following conditions:

  • Demo aircraft taxies on a taxiway toward a runway with high-speed converging conflict traffic.
  • Demo aircraft departs and conflict traffic enters the runway ahead of the demo aircraft.
  • Demo aircraft is on approach to a runway with conflict traffic on that runway so that a go-around is required.
  • Demo aircraft has landed on a runway and conflict traffic is entering the runway ahead of the demo aircraft.
  • Demo aircraft is taxiing on a runway and conflict traffic approaches the runway from behind.

It will be interesting to see which vendors step up to the plate, and how they will be aiming to differentiate themselves.

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