Slowly, the old rules of navigation are changing, and one of the oldest, which dates back before the days of sailing ships, is the rule about magnetic variation and compasses: “Variation East, Magnetic Least; Variation West, Magnetic Best.” That means, for example, that if you’re flying out of Presque Isle, Maine, and want to fly due west, you need to turn onto a compass heading of 290 degrees, because up there, the local variation is 20 degrees West and the variation rule says “West is best.” That is, adding magnetic to true makes it a bigger number, or “best.” But to fly due west o
Avionics and ATC » ATC
News, issues, personnel, equipment and developments about air traffic management.
There’s no question that unmanned aircraft systems (UAS, replacing the former UAV acronym) are coming to the NAS. The name change, from unmanned aerial vehicles to unmanned aerial systems, reflects what the machines are all about, since UAV didn’t properly recognize that in future configurations the ground control element would be as essential as the airborne part.
A new Reason Foundation study argues that U.S. passenger airports could support themselves and fund capacity improvements with user fees and long-term financing, eliminating the need for government grants from the Airport Improvement Program (AIP). The study by the libertarian research organization also proposes spinning off the FAA’s Air Traffic Organization (ATO) into a separate federal entity that charges users for ATC services.
It had always been ICAO’s intent that civil user services provided by the global navigation satellite system (GNSS) should be free of charges or user mandates, except for certain optional applications such as fee-bearing accuracy enhancements with performance guarantees. Europe’s Galileo is expected to offer such optional enhancements. But Russia has announced that it will mandate the carriage of receivers for its Glonass constellation in all aircraft on its civil aircraft register. GPS may also be used, but only when integrated with a Glonass receiver and its adjuncts.
Russia’s announcement before ICAO’s November Air Navigation Conference that it intends to mandate that all aircraft on the Russian civil register carry, by January 2018, that country’s Glonass system or combined Glonass/GPS equipment but not GPS or other foreign GNSS as a stand-alone system (see AIN, November, page 48) met resistance from the international community during the November gathering.
Many pilots had their first–but thankfully second-hand–exposure to the pitfalls of flight systems automation when they watched a remarkable video of an Airbus A320 performing a gear-down, nose-high flypast demonstration at the small French airport at Habsheim in 1988.
A new high-tech voice communication control system recently approved by the UK’s Civil Aviation Authority has been installed in the ATC center at London Biggin Hill Airport. Created by Netherlands-based Micro Electronics Products, the quarter-million-dollar system known as TCP990 includes a central electronic processor in the control tower that integrates and processes all inputs from UHF and VHF channels, personnel and emergency radio units as well as a slate of pre-selected contacts at each controller position and on the ATC assistant desk.
As with civil aviation operators, the U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) must ready its aircraft fleet to comply with fast-approaching mandates to operate in the future global airspace system. Failure to meet those requirements will prevent operators from being able to take advantage of preferential routes and altitudes that will be available to properly equipped aircraft.
Eurocontrol’s Maastricht Upper Area Control Center (Muac) is supplying air traffic data to the Royal Netherlands Air Force (RNLAF) in a project designed to better coordinate civil and military flights in some of Europe’s busiest airspace. Eurocontrol said the data-sharing system has started initial operations with 11 military controller and two supervisory positions.
The National Air Traffic Controllers Association (Natca) has released a report outlining the effects sequestration will have on the aviation industry, as well as the U.S. economy, if Congress does not act to avert the across-the-board cuts scheduled to take effect January 1.