UK ATC provider NATS said last week that the first practical trial of the TopFlight air traffic management system (ATM) successfully delivered the expected level of flight efficiencies. TopFlight is a key element in Europe’s Sesar next-generation ATM system, similar to the U.S. NextGen program. A NATS official reported at the Air Traffic Management.net website that gate-to-gate travel times measured for 100 British Airways flights across the North Atlantic using the new system saved up to half a ton of fuel per flight.
North Atlantic Tracks
British ATC provider NATS announced last week that a new system that uses time intervals rather than distance to separate arriving and departing aircraft should be in full operation at London Heathrow Airport next spring. The dynamic time-based separations (TBS) system is expected to reduce aircraft delays while increasing an airport’s landing acceptance rate by accounting for wind-speed changes that current distance-based separation ignores.
According to NBAA, the FAA will publish a notice to airmen on December 12 detailing plans for the rollout of Phase 2 of the North Atlantic datalink mandate. Implementation will begin with Phase 2a on Feb. 5, 2015, at which time flights within the North Atlantic Tracks (NAT) between FL350 and FL390 must be equipped with Fans 1/A controller-pilot datalink communications and ADS-C systems. The program expands to these altitudes in the entire ICAO NAT region on Dec.
UK air navigation services provider NATS has started a 14-week “consultation” process through January 21 to gather comments from airlines and other interested groups on proposed airspace changes surrounding Gatwick and London City airports. The consultation marks the first step in a wider program of proposed changes under the UK Civil Aviation Authority’s Future Airspace Strategy, an ATC modernization plan for the UK and Ireland.
Chicago Jet Group received the first-ever Fans retrofit STC approval from the FAA on September 5, the company and partner Universal Avionics announced yesterday. The Fans 1/A+/controller-pilot datalink communications (CPDLC) system, which was installed in a Dassault Falcon 50 that Chicago Jet group manages for a customer, uses an International Communications Group NxtLink ICS-220A Iridium satcom.
Air navigation service providers (ANSPs) have extended their ability to track aircraft flying on far northern Atlantic routes by installing automatic dependent surveillance-broadcast (ADS-B) stations in Greenland, the Faroe Islands and Iceland.
As Europe begins the phased introduction of new datalink standards for aircraft and ATC (above FL285), Arinc Direct continues to play a leading role in future datalink standards (effectively the next-generation Acars).
So-called controller pilot datalink communications (CPDLC) requires aircraft to be able to communicate with ATC using VHF datalink (VDL) Mode 2, akin to text messaging of requests and clearances (although voice communications will still be used as a back-up).
New York Center plans to change how eastbound IFR traffic receives oceanic clearances before entering minimum navigational performance standard (MNPS) airspace. The procedural changes will apply only to aircraft entering oceanic airspace from an FAA air traffic management facility.
Mandates requiring business jet operators that fly to Europe to equip their aircraft for datalink communications with ATC are fast approaching. The price of non-compliance will be higher costs and longer trips as operators are forced to fly at sub-optimal altitudes and on less direct oceanic routes.
Both Gander and Shanwick oceanic control areas (OCAs) are conducting a trial of reduced longitudinal separation standards–five minutes between eligible aircraft–in North Atlantic airspace. The separation minimum for turbojets maintaining constant Mach on the same longitudinal track in the North Atlantic minimum navigation performance specifications (MNPS) airspace is 10 minutes.
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