Russian air traffic management officials have confirmed that the Moscow area’s new, long-awaited ATC center at Vnukovo Airport will not be commissioned for two more years. The delay is the result of extended testing of new ATC software. The software is currently running alongside an ATC system created in the 1970s to be certain it operates as planned. Construction of the ATC facility began three years ago.
Oman confirmed a long-expected order for 12 Eurofighter Typhoons, and also decided to buy eight BAE Systems Hawk advanced jet trainers (AJTs). The contract is worth about $3.75 billion; deliveries will begin in 2017. The Typhoons will replace aging Jaguar strike aircraft in the Royal Air Force of Oman (RAFO), while the Hawk AJTs will supplement or replace the RAFO’s Hawk Mk103/203s. BAE Systems will provide in-service support.
New flight plan requirements developed for ICAO compatibility with digital air traffic management systems around the world take effect tomorrow at 8 p.m. EST. “The amendments to flight plan content go to the very core of flight-plan processing,” according to Eurocontrol. The basic flight plan form and the field composition within the flight-plan message remain unchanged, but the content of some fields will change. A new Eurocontrol interface manual explains the changes from a user’s perspective.
Lockheed Martin has revealed details of its new Ku-band imaging and ground moving target indicator (GMTI) radar, describing it as a next-generation system for small air vehicle applications, manned or unmanned. Lockheed Martin’s Integrated Systems and Global Solutions (IS&GS) division has named it Asars-3, reflecting the company’s heritage as developer of the first advanced synthetic aperture radar system for the SR-71 Blackbird. Asars-2 was another X-band system, developed for the U-2 reconnaissance aircraft by Raytheon.
Northrop Grumman has improved the range and reduced the weight of its AN/ZPY-1 StarLite multimode surveillance radar, which the company is proposing as a sensor for the U.S. Army’s RQ-7B Shadow, the Navy’s future MQ-8C Fire Scout and other manned and unmanned aircraft.
Dassault and Thales announced delivery of the first production Rafale to carry the Thales RBE2 active electronically scanned array (AESA) radar. The companies noted that the aircraft, production number C137 for the French Air Force, is the first AESA-equipped European combat aircraft to enter service. The development was completed on time and budget, they added.
An article in AIN’s September issue addressed concerns that have been raised about the security of the ADS-B system, which is headed for widespread deployment around the world. ADS-B is designed to replace radar as the primary method for surveillance of airborne traffic.
When Gulfstream’s G650 enters service later this year, pilots will find a pleasant surprise, a Honeywell RDR 4000 3-D weather radar that is far easier to operate than earlier systems. The radar has been flying for a few years on airliners, and the G650 is the first business jet application. New features just implemented on the RDR 4000 include turbulence detection, hail and lightning display and a new attenuation display.
A recent update to the FAA’s aeronautical information manual (AIM) specifically wants to refocus how pilots use their transponders on the ground. For years, most pilots became used to ensuring transponders were turned off until takeoff or as part of the after-landing checks. The AIM now says, “Civil and military transponders should be turned ‘on’ to the normal altitude-reporting position prior to moving on the surface to ensure the aircraft is visible to ATC [ground] surveillance systems.”
HungaroControl’s new 107,000-sq-ft ATC Center in Budapest, funded by the EU and slated to be equipped with certified radar and communications equipment by the end of this year, represents the next step in bringing modern en route ATC to the region. En route ATC operations are scheduled to begin from the new facility in February. HungaroControl employs 156 air traffic controllers.