Whether for safety, economy or to meet ICAO Flight Operations Quality Assurance (FOQA) standards, helicopter operators are showing increased interest in capturing and analyzing flight data. Spidertracks (Booth No. 4854), based in Palmerstown North, New Zealand, offers a global satellite-based system for fleet operators that tracks equipped aircraft in real time and records movements and flight data for later analysis.
Several years ago, when satellites were being touted as aviation’s sole means of navigation from takeoff to touchdown, former FAA Administrator Langhorne Bond painted a picture of a dark winter’s night with below-limits weather up and down the east coast. In that scenario, he stated, terrorist GPS jammers could become “weapons of mass destruction.” The FAA shrugged it off as unfounded speculation.
GPS designers understood from the beginning that the system’s weak signals would be vulnerable to inadvertent or deliberate interference, with the threat formally recognized by the DOT’s Volpe Center in Cambridge, Mass., on Sept. 10, 2001�one day before 9/11. Since that time, the Department of Defense has run annual all-altitude tests�over the Western U.S.
Cessna Citation 501, West Midlands, UK, Nov. 19, 2010–The twinjet was destroyed when it caught fire after striking the ILS glideslope antenna while landing in fog at Birmingham International Airport at the end of an organ transport flight. The pilot was seriously injured, while the copilot was treated for burns and released the next day. The organ was recovered from the wreckage and was safely delivered to the hospital.
UK air navigation service provider Nats and lobbying association Oil & Gas UK last month switched their North Sea multilateration system to the “operational” mode, thus improving offshore flight safety. Controllers can now see helicopters on their radar screens in areas that are beyond the 80-nm reach of land-based radar. The multilateration system uses signal transmitters and receivers fitted to 16 offshore platforms.
Jet Aviation St. Louis (formerly Midcoast Aviation) has completed the first wide-area augmentation system (Waas) FMS installation in a Dassault Falcon 2000, and it did it under a basic FAA field approval rather than obtaining a full supplemental type certificate (STC).
Following successful ADS-B deployment at key sites in the U.S., the FAA gave the go-ahead for the system’s national rollout, with coast-to-coast U.S. coverage forecast in 2013.
Plane Finder AR (augmented reality) iPhone and Android apps from UK-based Pinkfroot display aircraft transmitting ADS-B Out signals. Touching the aircraft image brings up its ID, type, operator’s name, altitude, groundspeed, heading and more.
Bell Helicopter announced last month that its new 429 light twin has been approved for precise wide area augmentation system (Waas) glidepath operations. The capability will allow the 429 to be flown to point-in-space approaches when the cloud ceiling is as low as 250 feet agl and to conduct steep (9 degrees) localizer precision with vertical guidance (LPV) approaches at a minimum velocity for instrument approaches (Vmini) of 45 knots.