Air Traffic Management http://www.airtrafficmanagement.net STRATEGY, TECHNOLOGY AND MANAGEMENT FOR THE WORLD'S MOST GLOBAL INDUSTRY Sat, 23 Aug 2014 12:37:30 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.9.1 Riding The Perfect Storm http://www.airtrafficmanagement.net/2014/08/riding-the-perfect-storm/ http://www.airtrafficmanagement.net/2014/08/riding-the-perfect-storm/#comments Sat, 23 Aug 2014 11:44:50 +0000 http://www.airtrafficmanagement.net/?p=26129 More ››]]> A volcanic ash cloud, heavy snow and industrial action by air traffic controllers formed a perfect storm in 2010 that stopped the anticipated recovery of Europe’s airlines in its tracks. Aimée Turner examines how the industry went about improving network recovery to avoid airspace and airport closure in future

The supreme irony of the Icelandic volcano eruption that grounded thousands of flights, nearly put some airlines out of business, and left millions of passengers stranded was that it actually did wonders for the country’s tourism industry.

As lava cooled around the petulant Eyjafjallajokull, tourists began to flock to the island, creating a spike in volcano tours. World air travel did not fare so well, however.

The economic impact of the volcanic ash from Eyjafjallajokull was pegged by the OECD and the World Tourism Organisation of the United Nations at a hefty €1.7 billion with a similar amount thought to have been lost in tourism revenues.

Volcanic ash procedure activated 14 April European Union states move to close access to airspace Eurocontrol’s Central Flow Management Unit implements and coordinates closures European Commission and Eurocontrol convene operational and policy talks Similar discussions are held at national level New thresholds of penetration of contaminated airspace agreed 19 April Airspace re-opens 21 April

2010 Timeline: The volcanic ash procedure was activated on 14 April, 2010 which saw European Union member states move to close access to airspace. Eurocontrol’s Central Flow Management Unit implemented and coordinated the airspace closures. The European Commission and Eurocontrol then convened operational and policy talks while similar discussions were held at national level. New thresholds of penetration of contaminated airspace were finally agreed on 19 April. Airspace was re-opened on 21 April

European airlines took the full force during the week of the ash cloud disruption. The Association of European Airlines which represents Europe’s most important network carriers, documented the sorry fall-out of 2010, thwarting hopes of a recovery after the pummelling the airline industry took throughout 2009.

“The figures were of course severely distorted by the effects of external shocks, most notably the airspace closures associated with the Icelandic volcanic eruptions in April and May,” said the AEA in its yearly state-of-the-industry report.

Figures from European air navigation safety organisation Eurocontrol chronicle the heavy toll: nearly 160,000 flights were cancelled between January and November, including 100,000 due to the volcano with the remaining cancellations representing a 150% increase from 2009.

Brian Flynn, the then head of network operations at Eurocontrol, explains that at its worse, the Icelandic volcano succeeded in shutting down the airspace over 75% of the landmass of Europe with eastbound traffic from the North Atlantic forced ever southwards in an effort to enter European airspace.

“All the benefits of initial growth coming out of recession were lost in Europe. We probably ended up in 2010 with only 1% growth in air traffic when our original projections were for between 2-3%,” said Flynn. “In 2007, delays generated €1.3 billion of costs to the airlines. That got a lot worse in 2010 at nearer €2 billion. And that’s without starting to quantify the direct and indirect costs to airports.”

Ash cloud concentration was not uniform however and large swathes of southern Europe were not as severely affected by ash cloud contamination as her more northern neighbours. And yet the rules laid down by global aviation’s standard-setting body ICAO were the only guide that national authorities had to go on – and that was very strictly interpreted by the authorities. “It was a risk aversion rather than a risk management strategy,” admits Eurocontrol’s Flynn. “Because we had no risk strategy it took us five days to move to an acceptable risk level”

Airlines rounded on the authorities for what they judged to be poor decision-making on the basis of excessively conservative ash concentration forecasts, claiming that there was no need to adopt such the draconian measures as wholesale airspace closure.

Although the crisis was initially managed on a no-risk total closure strategy, a small number of aircraft equipped to fly through volcanic ash clouds were dispatched and when they did penetrate these areas they found high concentration levels – but only in pockets. At the same time, a number of airlines carried out test flights using cargo aircraft, supplying vital extra information about concentration levels, on the basis of which a fresh risk assessment framework could be prepared.

Because airborne weather radar does not detect volcanic ash, and low concentrations may not be detected, ICAO says pilots should look out for:       Odour: When encountering a volcanic ash cloud, flight crews usually notice a smoky or acrid odour that can smell like electrical smoke, burned dust, or sulphur     Static discharges: An electrostatic phenomenon similar to St. Elmo’s fire or glow can occur. In these instances, blue-coloured sparks can appear to flow up the outside of the windshield or a white glow at the leading edges of the wings or at the front of the engine inlets     Changing engine conditions: Surging, torching from the tailpipe and flameouts can occur; engine temperatures can change unexpectedly and a white glow can appear at the engine inlet     Engine restarts: Engines may accelerate to idle very slowly, especially at high altitudes and could result in inability to maintain altitude or Mach number     Haze: Most flight crews, as well as cabin crew or passengers, see a haze develop within the aircraft; dust can settle on surfaces     Airspeed: If volcanic ash fouls the pitot tubes, the indicated airspeed can decrease or fluctuate erratically, with associated effects on aircraft systems     Pressurization: Cabin pressure can change, including possible loss of cabin pressurization     Landing lights: Can cast sharp distinct shadows     Cockpit windows: Possible loss of visibility due to windows becoming cracked or discoloured due to the sandblast effect of the volcanic ash.

Because airborne weather radar does not detect volcanic ash, and low concentrations may not be detected, ICAO says pilots should look out for:
Odour: When encountering a volcanic ash cloud, flight crews usually notice a smoky or acrid odour that can smell like electrical smoke, burned dust, or sulphur
Static discharges: An electrostatic phenomenon similar to St. Elmo’s fire or glow can occur. In these instances, blue-coloured sparks can appear to flow up the outside of the windshield or a white glow at the leading edges of the wings or at the front of the engine inlets
Changing engine conditions: Surging, torching from the tailpipe and flameouts can occur; engine temperatures can change unexpectedly and a white glow can appear at the engine inlet
Engine restarts: Engines may accelerate to idle very slowly, especially at high altitudes and could result in inability to maintain altitude or Mach number
Haze: Most flight crews, as well as cabin crew or passengers, see a haze develop within the aircraft; dust can settle on surfaces
Airspeed: If volcanic ash fouls the pitot tubes, the indicated airspeed can decrease or fluctuate erratically, with associated effects on aircraft systems
Pressurization: Cabin pressure can change, including possible loss of cabin pressurization
Landing lights: Can cast sharp distinct shadows
Cockpit windows: Possible loss of visibility due to windows becoming cracked or discoloured due to the sandblast effect of the volcanic ash.

Airframe and engine manufacturers, aviation safety regulators, airlines, meteorological authorities and research communities came together and introduced experimental thresholds of volcanic ash concentrations which permitted, subject to appropriate precautionary maintenance, the resumption of operations in some areas contaminated by volcanic ash.

The deal carved up the airspace into four different risk classifications:

  • A white zone where normal flight operations apply
  • A red zone – Enhanced Procedures Zone B – in which some volcanic ash may be encountered, but in which EASA considers that flights can take place.
  • A grey zone – Enhanced Procedures Zone A – in which EASA recommends two approaches that allow flights under certain conditions.
  • A black zone (No Fly) in which EASA recommends banning flights because predicted ash concentrations exceed acceptable engine manufacturer tolerance levels.

“The main evolution lies with a greater level of granularity in determining the Enhanced Procedures Zone, thereby establishing the grey zone. This will allow member states greater flexibility in deciding how to manage their airspace, allowing for less flight disruption while still ensuring safety,” said Eurocontrol at the time.

In retrospect, Flynn believes that had the more “granular” approach been applied at the time of the crisis, only 35% of flights would have been lost rather than the 54%.

While airlines should always follow recommended practice issued by aircraft and engine makers, these general ICAO rules should apply:     Make a 180° turn, generally the shortest route out of the cloud     Decrease thrust if conditions permit. High thrust and hence turbine temperatures increases the risk of volcanic particles melting and causing build-ups in the turbine area     Don crew oxygen masks (100%)     Report to ATC. Any observation of volcanic activity or volcanic cloud encounter should be reported immediately to ATC using the VAR/AIREP procedures and subsequently by filing the more detailed part of the VAR     Increase bleed demand, e.g. select wing and engine anti-ice ON. This increases the surge margins and reduces the likelihood of a flameout     Start the APU, providing an additional generator in case of a flameout     Monitor engine parameters and airspeed indications. The latter may be rendered unreliable by ash. Be prepared to use the unreliable airspeed indication drills     File an ASR and make a technical log entry.

While airlines should always follow recommended practice issued by aircraft and engine makers, these general ICAO rules should apply:
Make a 180° turn, generally the shortest route out of the cloud
Decrease thrust if conditions permit. High thrust and hence turbine temperatures increases the risk of volcanic particles melting and causing build-ups in the turbine area
Don crew oxygen masks (100%)
Report to ATC. Any observation of volcanic activity or volcanic cloud encounter should be reported immediately to ATC using the VAR/AIREP procedures and subsequently by filing the more detailed part of the VAR
Increase bleed demand, e.g. select wing and engine anti-ice ON. This increases the surge margins and reduces the likelihood of a flameout
Start the APU, providing an additional generator in case of a flameout
Monitor engine parameters and airspeed indications. The latter may be rendered unreliable by ash. Be prepared to use the unreliable airspeed indication drills
File an official safety report and make a technical log entry.

Flynn adds that the crisis highlighted the principal weakness of the air traffic system in that decisions are invariably taken at local, national and regional level – and yet it essentially is a global system where decisions taken at any level have a knock-on effect. “The question remains, because aviation is a global industry, if one state has authorised operations for certain sorts of aircraft to operate, does that apply across Europe and furthermore, does that apply across the global region?”

Indeed, even the response to the volcanic ash situation among European states proved confusing at the time with some moving to open their airspace and certain routes early and determining their own rules of what constituted acceptable risk.

Add to that the fact that crises always throw up unique challenges which contingency planners just cannot foresee, and the decision over who exactly should be included in the chain of command adds further confusion to the mix.

Flynn is honest about the state in which European authorities found themselves. “The mechanisms to convene operational, policy and regulatory and political decision-makers needed to be ‘invented’. Uncertainty prevailed for several days with questions marks over who decides and certainly the decision criteria.”

Procedures and tools for managing such events had frankly been found wanting so post-Eyafjallajokull Eurocontrol set about establishing an effective crisis co-ordination infrastructure. That meant the founding of the European Aviation Crisis Coordination Cell (EACCC) to manage future situations affecting aviation in Europe. Activated when the normal operations environment is “exceeded”.

One of its importance tasks was to conduct overall coordination and control of all actions in any aviation crisis, collect all relevant information available during its evolution such as any meteorological, flight, airspace data, etc, and investigate relevant aspects, such as predictions on safety, impact, and event duration. Equally important, is its role in coordinating the work of ATM partners globally. Full scale simulation exercise are now routinely conducted to check and refine those EACCC procedures centring on a putative eruption of a volcano withn European airspace.

“Its mandate however does not extend to outside the European area so a flight is quite entitled to set off from Abu Dhabi, say, and will not receive a message telling that flight that it should not take off. There is no legal mandate to do that even though part of the airspace may be closed,” Flynn points out.

“Of course, NOTAMS will be issued by the state but there are so many NOTAMS, thousands issued each day. How is every airline supposed to ingest every single NOTAM issued and to spot the one that affects that one particular flight?” asks Flynn.

At ICAO level there has also been activity. Little progress on determining thresholds of acceptable levels of ash concentration had been made over the last 20 years and it took the Eyafjallajokull ash cloud to push the issue up the agenda covering as it did such large areas of high-density air traffic airspace.

ICAO’s International Volcanic Ash Task Force (IVATF) which was convened in July 2010 as a response to Eyafjallajokull released new draft rules that December which outlined its thinking in risk assessment guidance in flight operations management as well as best practice procedures of state aviation authorities.

New Standards

Work here was focussed on new standards based on detection, thresholds and how contamination evolves, new ATM procedures and functions governing control flow in a future crisis situation. Airlines were also invited to exchange views on future risk assessment methodologies for natural hazards in general, and volcanic eruptions in particular.

At that point it looked likely that national aviation authorities would  require all operators to observe a risk assessment framework that provides for an auditable and consistent method to make good safety decisions when contemplating flight close to, or into, airspace or aerodromes with known or forecast ash cloud contamination. And, indeed, that was the case with the eventual development of the first ever volcanic ash manual.

Entitled Flight Safety and Volcanic Ash (Doc 9974), the manual provides guidance which states may recommend to airlines when there is forecast volcanic ash contamination, placing the responsibility for such operations on the operator, under the oversight of the state regulatory authority.

It will always therefore remain at the discretion of the pilot to decide whether or not to handle the risk based on safety risk assessment drawn up by his airline employer.

This discretionary approach is significant. Post-Eyafjallajokull, although there was acknowledgement that a risk assessment framework should be embedded into an airline’s approved procedures, shifting decision making to the airlines concerned some pilots organizations which feared that pilots could come under pressure to fly against their better judgement.

Often overlooked is the role that effective communication played in the 2010 volcanic ash episode in alleviating some of the worst albeit avoidable effects of external shocks and this too is where Eurocontrol has applied some effort.

“We cannot prevent crises from natural phenomena but we can be a lot smarter when they happen,” says Flynn.

EVITA, or the European Crisis Visualisation Interactive Tool for ATFCM is being developed by Eurocontrol to become the principal communications channel for airlines operating in Europe during crisis situations which affect a significant amount of airspace during longer periods of time. Essentially, it brings together volcanic ash concentration data (provided by the VAACs in London and Toulouse) and Danger Areas declared via NOTAM by national aviation authorities in addition to the standard functionality of Eurocontrol’s existing Network Operations Portal website produced by its Central Flow Management Unit. “It is a tool to support decision-making of airlines, state regulators, ANSPs etc,” says Eurocontrol’s Zarko Sivcev who helped to develop EVITA. “It should provide indications of which sectors and aerodromes are impacted by volcanic ash for national aviation authorities and ANSPs. Airlines will further be able to identify and plot their flights, which are likely to be impacted by volcanic ash .” The tool’s use is not solely restricted to ash contamination but could equally be applied to crises involving nuclear emergency, pandemics and security alarms, indeed anything that has an adverse impact on the airspace. “It should serve as a ‘one stop shop’, and therefore should reduce the risk of information overload,” says Sivcev. In its current form it delivers a graphic depiction of how airspace is currently affected as well as offering how airspace will likely be affected in future as the crisis evolves. The tool will also be developed further to display data at the rate it is received and will also have enhanced dynamic features allowing the user to zoom and choose different overlays as well as produce static snap shot of tailor made chart. EVITA will further support the depiction of impacted areas and provide coordinates and could also be tailored to be airline-specific, detailing which of the operator’s flights are impacted, by which ash concentration and give estimates of the duration.

EVITA, or the European Crisis Visualisation Interactive Tool for ATFCM is being developed by Eurocontrol to become the principal communications channel for airlines operating in Europe during crisis situations which affect a significant amount of airspace during longer periods of time.
Essentially, it brings together volcanic ash concentration data (provided by the volcanic activity alert centres in London and Toulouse) and Danger Areas declared via NOTAM by national aviation authorities in addition to the standard functionality of Eurocontrol’s existing Network Operations Portal website produced by its Central Flow Management Unit.
“It is a tool to support decision-making of airlines, state regulators, ANSPs etc,” says Eurocontrol’s Zarko Sivcev who helped to develop EVITA. “It should provide indications of which sectors and aerodromes are impacted by volcanic ash for national aviation authorities and ANSPs. Airlines will further be able to identify and plot their flights, which are likely to be impacted by volcanic ash .”
The tool’s use is not solely restricted to ash contamination but could equally be applied to crises involving nuclear emergency, pandemics and security alarms, indeed anything that has an adverse impact on the airspace.
“It should serve as a ‘one stop shop’, and therefore should reduce the risk of information overload,” says Sivcev.
In its current form it delivers a graphic depiction of how airspace is currently affected as well as offering how airspace will likely be affected in future as the crisis evolves. The tool will also be developed further to display data at the rate it is received and will also have enhanced dynamic features allowing the user to zoom and choose different overlays as well as produce static snap shot of tailor made chart.
EVITA will further support the depiction of impacted areas and provide coordinates and could also be tailored to be airline-specific, detailing which of the operator’s flights are impacted, by which ash concentration and give estimates of the duration.

Eurocontrol has developed a toolset on its Network Operations Portal for all airspace users which depicts any form of airspace closure and calculates the profile of any flights whether or not they will fly into any danger area.

“Aviation is a global activity. We need this sort of activity to be available to all airlines and all ANSPs on a worldwide basis if we are to effectively deal with future crises,” says Flynn. “Data comes into Eurocontrol from the US’s Federal Aviation Administration on all flights over the North American continent and the North Atlantic Ocean. We can see every single flight in Europe with radar pictures refreshing every two minutes throughout Europe. But we have nothing to the east and nothing from the south. So how can we effectively operate a global industry if we do not have continual information sharing?”

Another of the system’s greatest challenges is how to integrate airports into the worldwide network from an information and decision-making perspective? As he points out, a crisis situation such as pandemics, security and severe weather can affect the airport but not the airspace.

“We need to know what are airport information needs and how do they differ from the needs of ANSP and airlines? Who represents the airports, the airport authority, the ATC? An airport is a complex series of partners and how do we share information with all of them,” Flynn asks. “Also, can an airline really be expected to inform all its passengers on events that are way outside its control and are perhaps taking place in another continent? We need global information allied to the needs of all stakeholders.”

The return to normal operations is also an area that should be examined, reckons Flynn, as normal operations need to be resumed gradually. “We need recovery plans but we cannot expect to get out of a crisis situation in a few hours or even a few days and we need to gradually restore network capability.”

Eyjafjallajokull’s toll on European traffic (15–21 April, 2010)     Unprecedented disruption with 1% of annual traffic lost     54% of flights are lost overall     70% of flights are lost at worst hit EU airports,     Less affected EU airports still lose 23% of flights     Several airlines lose more than 80% of scheduled traffic

Eyjafjallajokull’s toll on European traffic Unprecedented disruption with 1% of annual traffic lost
54% of flights are lost overall
70% of flights are lost at worst hit EU airports,
Less affected EU airports still lose 23% of flights
Several airlines lose more than 80% of scheduled traffic

“In order to do that, we need a true picture of demand. Today airlines tend to be quite late in updating their flight planning information and any time we have even a small crisis in Europe we find we have a great deal of “false” demand in the system. In other words, aircraft which intended to fly and filed a flight plan never cancelled that plan and did not inform the network about it.”

“We also need priority rules to recover from crisis situations. The airspace cannot just be opened up on a first-come first-served basis because that only prolongs the disruption.”

Intermodal forms of transport are one alternative that should come into play especially in a continent where city pairs are often quite close. Inter-airline co-operation is another.

“This begs the questions, what form of solutions could we use to move passengers from outside the European Union airspace. A great number of passengers were stuck for weeks due to the ash cloud and did not get to their destination for days until their airlines resumed normal operations,” says Flynn.

“When the system gets up and running it is overloaded so we have to take precautions and those should include a discussion of what the priorities are. Which flights should start first? Should they be transatlantic flights for their economic benefit impact, short haul or holiday flights? Priorities need to protect the system and to explore all the opportunities that are there.”

Indeed, the European Commission has quite wide powers in terms of transport policy to effect this sort of prioritisation.

Flynn believes that in terms of information needs each ANSP is not only beholden to each other but accountable to the world outside their own airspace boundaries. “What did we learn? We learned that clear decision-making criteria were essential and that the actors involved in that needed to be clearly identified. That went equally for the policy as it did at operational level. We also learned that the information requirements of the regulatory authorities, of the ANSPs, of the airlines, of the airports and even the passengers also urgently needs to take place on a global level.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Arianespace confirms Galileo satellites are in wrong orbit http://www.airtrafficmanagement.net/2014/08/galileo-satellites-operating-in-wrong-orbit/ http://www.airtrafficmanagement.net/2014/08/galileo-satellites-operating-in-wrong-orbit/#comments Fri, 22 Aug 2014 10:24:10 +0000 http://www.airtrafficmanagement.net/?p=26105 More ››]]>

The fifth and sixth satellites that form part of Europe’s Galileo navigation system have been launched into the wrong orbit

The European Space Agency (ESA) had initially said the August 22 launch from Kourou in French Guyana had been successful. But Arianespace, the firm overseeing the launch, revealed the error in a statement released Saturday.

“Observations taken after the separation of the satellites from the Soyuz VS09 (rocket) for the Galileo Mission show a gap between the orbit achieved and that which was planned,” it said.

“They have been placed on a lower orbit than expected. Teams are studying the impact this could have on the satellites,” it added.

Arianespace declined to comment on whether their trajectories can be corrected.

Read: All Systems G-alile-O

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All Systems G-alile-O? http://www.airtrafficmanagement.net/2014/08/all-systems-galileo/ http://www.airtrafficmanagement.net/2014/08/all-systems-galileo/#comments Wed, 20 Aug 2014 13:31:37 +0000 http://www.airtrafficmanagement.net/?p=26096 More ››]]> European_GNSS_Evolution_Programme_EGEP webThe launch of the first two full-capability satellites was meant to mark the latest milestone for Galileo, Europe’s satellite navigation programme as a step towards a fully-fledged European-owned satellite navigation system.

The news that they have been placed in the wrong orbit will come as a keen disappointment to the industry teams that have worked for years to establish the rival to the US GPS system.

Payload preparation for Arianespace’s Soyuz Flight VS09 started in earnest back in early May with the arrival in French Guiana of the first two Galileo Full Operational Capability (FOC) satellites.

After several months of testing in the Netherlands, the twin satellites were placed inside specially designed containers, maintaining temperature, humidity and air cleanliness within rigid limits in readiness for integration with the Soyuz launch vehicle in mid July.

Scheduled for a dual-passenger launch on August 21, these satellites will join their four Galileo In-Orbit Validation (IOV) counterparts which were deployed in pairs in October 2011 and a year later in 2012.

On 12 March 2013, Galileo’s space and ground infrastructure came together for the very first time to perform the historic first determination of a ground location at ESA’s Navigation Laboratory at its ESTEC technical centre, located in The Netherlands.

Didier Faivre, the European Space Agency director of Galileo, said the four IOV satellites were critical in helping the ESA demonstrate that the system could deliver precise positioning and timing capabilities.

“Europe has proven with the in orbit validation campaign that in terms of performance we are at a par with the best international systems of navigation in the world,” said Faivre. “It gives us give us great confidence that the system will work when the constellation is completed.”

Initiative

The Galileo programme is Europe’s initiative for satellite navigation, providing a highly accurate global positioning system under civilian control – which will consist of 30 satellites, along with a two control centres in Europe supported by a network of sensor and uplink stations around the world.

The network’s complete operational and ground infrastructure will now be deployed during Galileo’s Full Operational Capability phase, which is managed and funded by the European Commission, with the European Space Agency delegated to design and procure on behalf of Brussels.

Faivre said that four FOC satellites will be launched by the end of this year, and that depending on production rates, another eight will be added to the constellation next year.

“We will still have 22 to launch so that means we anticipate the constellation will be completed in three to four years’ time,” said Faivre.

Today’s launch of the first two full-capability satellites will be followed by several weeks of testing and positioning before the satellite can be declared operational.

“The objective over the next two years is to produce two satellites every three months as well as to launch two satellites every three months,” said Faivre. “That means we have to achieve a production rate at Bremen of one satellite every six weeks, to make it routine.”

Integration

To achieve this, three industrial integration teams have been recently deployed in Bremen where the Galileo satellites are manufactured, the Netherlands where testing takes place and Kourou in French Guiana where satellites are prepared for launch.

That activity will be crucial because despite highly promising validation results from the first four satellites, the true availability of services will only be known once the number of satellites within the constellation approaches 18.

European Commissioner for industry and entrepreneurship Ferdinando Nelli Feroci said: The launch of these two satellites initiates Galileo’s full operational capability phase. It gives new impetus to the Galileo programme, a truly European project which has built on EU countries’ resources to maximise the benefits for EU citizens. Galileo operates at a technological frontier and provides applications with huge economic potential, supporting the EU objectives of growth and competitiveness. We are particularly glad to also announce that from 2015 onwards the EU will be able to use a European built Ariane 5 launch system, thanks to a new contract worth €500 million for the EU’s space industry.

Benefits are already being reaped from the European Geostationary Navigation Overlay Service (EGNOS), a complementary service to Galileo. Operational since 2011, EGNOS is used for example by the aviation industry, to provide the positioning accuracy needed for more precise landings, fewer delays and diversions and more efficient routes in Europe.

Once it has entered into its operational phase, Europe is hoping that Galileo will also spawn a wide range of innovative new products and services in other industries and generate economic growth, innovation and highly skilled jobs. In 2013 the annual global market for global navigation satellite products and services was valued at €175 billion and it is expected to grow over the next years to an estimated €237 billion in 2020.

 

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SwiftBroadband flight deck services make debut http://www.airtrafficmanagement.net/2014/08/swiftbroadband-flight-deck-services-make-debut/ http://www.airtrafficmanagement.net/2014/08/swiftbroadband-flight-deck-services-make-debut/#comments Tue, 19 Aug 2014 21:38:46 +0000 http://www.airtrafficmanagement.net/?p=26091 More ››]]> British satellite business Inmarsat has announced the first successful installation and on-going trials of its ACARS-capable SwiftBroadband (SB) safety equipment on an Airbus A319.

The Aircraft Communications Addressing and Reporting System (ACARS) is a digital datalink system for the transmission of short messages between aircraft and ground stations via airband radio or satellite. It is a highly reliable text-based message system used extensively by the aviation industry.

SB Safety enables the fast, efficient transfer of ACARS data messages over the SwiftBroadband link. Installed in May this year, Inmarsat has been closely monitoring the system on board the aircraft, which it said has consistently surpassed performance expectations.

“This is the start of a revolution in communications for the flight deck. It shows the way forward for Future Air Navigation Systems (FANS) for the nearly 10,000 aircraft currently relying on our Inmarsat Classic Aero services, which were launched over 20 years ago,” said Leo Mondale, Inmarsat’s president of aviation. “SB Safety provides prioritised voice and ACARS/FANS data transmission when an aircraft is out of reach of land-based communications, which is indispensable for aircraft flying over oceans.”

As well as ACARS, SB Safety also supports flight deck voice services and IP connectivity to the flight deck, enabling other flight operations and cockpit services, such as inflight updates to Electronic Flight Bags and Flight Data Recorder downloads. It also supports aircraft position reporting and tracking, and voice transmission for Air Traffic Management communications. A range of terminal variants is available, ensuring SB Safety can meet the requirements of all aircraft types, from the largest passenger types to business jets.

“A key point is that SB Safety provides a prioritised IP data pipe for the cockpit, for both security and continuity of service” continued Mondale. “This is particularly important for airlines that use SwiftBroadband for both safety services and cabin connectivity.”

The A319’s airborne hardware is Cobham’s AVIATOR 300D, part of a range which includes low-cost terminals with low weight and drag. SITA is the communications service provider and Satcom Direct is responsible for the on-board flight deck and cabin services. The entire system has undergone SITA’s Verification and Qualification (VAQ) testing procedure.

SB Safety is expected to achieve FANS approval in early 2016, following flight trials on commercial aircraft.

 

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Iceland readies for renewed risk of potential volcanic ash activity http://www.airtrafficmanagement.net/2014/08/iceland-readies-for-renewed-volcanic-ash-activity/ http://www.airtrafficmanagement.net/2014/08/iceland-readies-for-renewed-volcanic-ash-activity/#comments Mon, 18 Aug 2014 20:31:55 +0000 http://www.airtrafficmanagement.net/?p=26062 More ››]]> This map is issued by the Icelandic Meteorological Office and it shows the current status of Icelandic volcanic systems. It is refreshed at 09:00 UTC daily and will timely reflect any signs of unrest. Colour codes, which are in accordance with recommended International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) procedures,are intended to inform the aviation sector about a volcano's status. Notifications are issued for both increasing and decreasing volcanic activity, and are accompanied by text with details (as known) about the nature of the unrest or eruption, especially in regard to ash-plume information and likely outcomes.  GREY: Volcano appears quiet but is not monitored adequately. Absence of unrest unconfirmed.  GREEN: Volcano is in typical background, non-eruptive state.  YELLOW: Volcano is exhibiting signs of elevated unrest above known background level.  ORANGE: Volcano shows heightened or escalating unrest with increased potential of eruption.  RED: Eruption is imminent or in progress - significant emission of ash into atmosphere likely.

This map is issued by the Icelandic Meteorological Office and it shows the current status of Icelandic volcanic systems. It is refreshed at 09:00 UTC daily and will timely reflect any signs of unrest.
Colour codes, which are in accordance with recommended International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) procedures,are intended to inform the aviation sector about a volcano’s status. Notifications are issued for both increasing and decreasing volcanic activity, and are accompanied by text with details (as known) about the nature of the unrest or eruption, especially in regard to ash-plume information and likely outcomes.
GREY: Volcano appears quiet but is not monitored adequately. Absence of unrest unconfirmed.
GREEN: Volcano is in typical background, non-eruptive state.
YELLOW: Volcano is exhibiting signs of elevated unrest above known background level.
ORANGE: Volcano shows heightened or escalating unrest with increased potential of eruption.
RED: Eruption is imminent or in progress – significant emission of ash into atmosphere likely.

Iceland’s meteorological office has raised its risk level to the aviation industry for an eruption at its Bardarbunga volcano to orange, which is the fourth level on a five-grade scale.

Europe’s Network Manager said it has received information that the aviation alert status of the Icelandic Volcano Bardarbunga has been raised to code orange indicating a heightened or escalating unrest with increased potential of eruption.

“There is currently no impact on aviation and the Network Manager is monitoring the situation,” it said.

Icelandic authorities said that the intense seismic activity that started on 16 August at Bárðarbunga persists.

It has detected very strong indications of ongoing magma movement, in connection with dyke intrusion, which is corroborated by GPS measurements. “There are currently two swarms: one to the E of Bárðarbunga caldera and one at the edge of Dyngjujökull just E of Kistufell. At 2.37 am on the 18th a strong earthquake (M4) was located in the Kistufell swarm,” stated the Icelandic meteorological office.

It said this is the strongest earthquake measured in the region since 1996. As evidence of magma movement shallower than 10 km implies increased potential of a volcanic eruption, the Bárðarbunga aviation color code has been changed to orange.

“Presently there are no signs of eruption, but it cannot be excluded that the current activity will result in an explosive subglacial eruption, leading to an outburst flood (jökulhlaup) and ash emission. The situation is monitored closely,” it said.

 

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McMillan to head airspace security task force http://www.airtrafficmanagement.net/2014/08/mcmillan-to-head-airspace-security-task-force/ http://www.airtrafficmanagement.net/2014/08/mcmillan-to-head-airspace-security-task-force/#comments Mon, 18 Aug 2014 09:25:35 +0000 http://www.airtrafficmanagement.net/?p=26055 More ››]]> Flight Safety Foundation’s David McMillan is to head the international task force charged with mitigating the risks faced by airlines flying over war torn countries.

The International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) last week selected McMillan at its first two‐day meeting of a special group which was convened in the aftermath of the downing of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH1. Its task is to refine the roles and procedures relating to the mitigation of conflict zone risk in civilian airspace.

ICAO’s Council president Dr Olumuyiwa Benard Aliu opened the meeting, highlighting the global context of the MH17 accident and the unique challenges it set out for the task force’s state and industry participants. ICAO hopes the task force will help provide greater clarity of procedures and responsibilities with respect to civilian airspace over conflict zones.

“Aviation’s first priority is always the safety of the passengers and crew who count on our global network to carry them rapidly and reliably, anywhere in the world,” said Aliu.

“While the circumstances of the loss of MH17 present some very complex challenges, for States particularly but also for airlines, airports and air navigation services providers, I have been very encouraged by the range of ideas presented and am confident that the ICAO Council will be reviewing some mature Task Force proposals when it reconvenes later this year.”

McMillan was nominated by the Government of Malaysia and supported by the Government of the Netherlands, two countries vitally affected by the shoot down of MH17 in the Ukraine.

“We’re looking for urgent, practical measures to address these new risks,” McMillan stressed.

Some of the practical measures under discussion included possible methods whereby states could both refine and share the various types of information needed to support more comprehensive conflict zone risk assessments. Proposals for the consideration of industry players included the development of more detailed requirements relating to conflict zone warning criteria.

McMillan has served on the Flight Safety Foundation Board of Governors since 2007 and was elected chairman of the Board in 2012. McMillan also served as director general of Eurocontrol from January 2008 through December of 2012. Eurocontrol consists of member states from the European Region, including the European Community. It is involved in almost every aspect of air traffic management in Europe.

McMillan inisted that civil aviation remains fundamentally very safe, adding, ‘but we do need to apply lessons learned from the tragedy of MH17 and recent events to fill any gaps that may exist to better assess and share risks from and near regional conflict zones’.

The task force will meet again on 25‐26 August for its second round of talks and ICAO is aiming to deliver the group’s preliminary findings to the 203rd Session of the UN body’s 36‐State Governing Council in October 2014.

]]> http://www.airtrafficmanagement.net/2014/08/mcmillan-to-head-airspace-security-task-force/feed/ 0 FAA approves Avionica’s satLINK http://www.airtrafficmanagement.net/2014/08/faa-approves-avionicas-satlink/ http://www.airtrafficmanagement.net/2014/08/faa-approves-avionicas-satlink/#comments Fri, 15 Aug 2014 08:29:01 +0000 http://www.airtrafficmanagement.net/?p=26051 More ››]]> The US Federal Aviation Administration has issued Avionica a Supplemental Type Certificate (STC) for satLINK MAX, the industry’s first Iridium based ATS SATCOM for air transport aircraft.

Avionica also announced United Airlines as the launch customer.

The FAA granted design approval for the Avionica satLINK MAX SATCOM communications system as the first RTCA/DO-262A compliant voice and data SATCOM system for air transport aircraft.

This confirms satLINK MAX’s compliance with the FAA’s Advisory Circular AC20-140B guidance for Data Link Communication systems supporting Air Traffic Services (ATS) and its adherence to the stringent RTCA/DO-262A Minimum Operational Performance Standard required to support FANS 1/A over Iridium operations (FOI).

The Supplemental Type Certificate was issued for the installation of Avionica’s satLINK MAX solution on all Boeing 777-200, -300, -300ER, -200LR and 777F series aircraft. Additional aircraft type approvals are pending.

“We designed satLINK MAX from the ground up based on empirical data gleaned from our customers operations.  satLINK MAX improves every criteria of our original miniQAR satLink Classic installed on over 700 aircraft.  It also directly enables further capabilities of Avionica’s complimentary products such as AID cockpit devices,” said Anthony Rios, vice president of engineering at Avionica.

In addition to enabling FANS 1/A over Iridium, Avionica’s satLINK MAX customers can leverage its four Iridium transceivers to simultaneously provide multiple voice and data services with a single dual-element antenna.  Typical applications include two flight deck voice channels, one FOI datalink channel, and one voice and data capable cabin service channel.

“Building this product, completing installation and certification testing in Hong Kong, while complying with the strict aviation industry standards is a true indication of Avionica’s capabilities and thoroughness of its certification processes. We demonstrated that satLINK MAX is the optimal solution for today’s airlines data connectivity challenges,” said Simone Drakes, FAA DER and Avionica’s director of aircraft engineering.

Raul Segredo, president and chief executive officer of Avionica, added, “This STC marks a new milestone in Avionica’s successful trajectory of over twenty years developing innovative and robust data and communication management solutions. Our team is proud to have installed avionics in over 7,000 aircraft, with over 500 customers worldwide and 15 FAA STC’s.  And yet, there is even more to come.  satLINK MAX incorporates additional functionality to fulfill emerging Onboard Network System (ONS) requirements such as EFB AID, QAR, ADL, and 4G access to Avionica’s global wireless data network.”

Avionica is a data collection and data transmission manufacturer. Over 22 years, Avionica has earned 15 Supplemental Type Certificates from the FAA and multiple certification approvals from Canada, EASA and China and is approved on over 250 different models of aircraft under the FAA’s Approved Model List (AML).

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Airways supports Mongolia on ATC separation http://www.airtrafficmanagement.net/2014/08/airways-supports-mongolia-on-atc-separation/ http://www.airtrafficmanagement.net/2014/08/airways-supports-mongolia-on-atc-separation/#comments Fri, 15 Aug 2014 08:09:22 +0000 http://www.airtrafficmanagement.net/?p=26049 More ››]]> Mongolian air traffic control separation standards will reduce from 90 to 30 kilometres in September following an Airways New Zealand review of the Mongolian Civil Aviation Authority safety assessment requirements.

Tim Bradding, a former Airways safety manager and current regional chief controller, visited Ulaanbaatar in Mongolia recently to assist the Mongolian CAA (MCAA) in their reduction of aircraft separation distances.  Since the installation in 2012 of radar sites across the region, radar control in the area has been introduced gradually, and currently relies on a 90 kilometre separation between aircraft.

Bradding says he worked closely with the MCAA to assess reducing radar separation standards to more closely align with the ICAO standard of five nautical miles (10 kilometres).

“During my visit I considered equipment reliability, procedures, air traffic controller training and contingency planning, to enable the MCAA to achieve their aircraft separation goals,” he says.

“Reducing aircraft separation requirements in a safe manner will allow the Mongolian CAA to more rapidly increase their air traffic flows, with economic benefits across the country and the region,” says Bradding.

Airways is New Zealand’s air navigation services provider, and provides leading air traffic control consultancy services around the world

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ANZ posts improved performance http://www.airtrafficmanagement.net/2014/08/anz-posts-improved-performance/ http://www.airtrafficmanagement.net/2014/08/anz-posts-improved-performance/#comments Thu, 14 Aug 2014 09:07:17 +0000 http://www.airtrafficmanagement.net/?p=26045 More ››]]> Airways New Zealand has posted a solid performance in the year to June 2014, improving its results in most areas over the previous year, says Airways chief executive Ed Sims.

New Zealand’s air navigation service provider made a net operating profit after tax of $11.8 million for the year ended June 2014, up from last year’s operating profit of $9 million. A 1.9% increase in aviation volumes combined with tight cost control were the primary drivers of the $10.2 million profit for air traffic control services.

Airways also ranked highly in terms of safety globally, and in the top 5 per cent of most efficient air navigation service providers in terms of aircraft movements per air traffic controller.

Airways’ commercial business units returned a $1.6 million profit, lower than last year’s $3 million result, due to lower than forecast revenues and the investment required to establish new businesses. Airways now has three core commercial businesses – training, revenue management and aeronautical information.

Airways invested $33.8 million – an increase of 43 per cent on the previous year – in service enhancement and capital expenditure programmes to deliver significant benefits to customers. Benefits include fuel savings from more efficient flight profiles, capacity enhancements in controlled airspace and improved on-time performance of aircraft. Inflight delay for airlines flying in to Auckland, Wellington, Christchurch and Queenstown dropped by 52 per cent in the three months to July 2014 compared with the average in the previous two years.

“Airways’ safety, service and productivity initiatives drive our investment in aviation infrastructure as we undergo a quantum transition from ground to satellite-based navigation,” said Ed Sims. “Airways will continue to keep a tight handle on all operating costs to ensure these efficiencies are sustainable.”

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Multinational MH370 search effort continues http://www.airtrafficmanagement.net/2014/08/multinational-mh370-search-effort-continues/ http://www.airtrafficmanagement.net/2014/08/multinational-mh370-search-effort-continues/#comments Thu, 07 Aug 2014 14:07:59 +0000 http://www.airtrafficmanagement.net/?p=26042 More ››]]> The multinational search effort for MH370 reports it is making good progress with the mapping of over 43,000 square kilometres of the high priority search area to date, in preparation for the deep-water search in September.

Yesterday, the Australian deputy prime minister announced on behalf of Australia, Malaysia and China, that the underwater search would be conducted by Fugro Survey.

Two ships, Zhu Kezhen and Fugro Equator, continue to work in the southern Indian Ocean, surveying the sea floor in preparation for the deep-sea search for missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370.

The Fugro Equator and the Zhu Kezhen are supported by two ships, including the Chinese Maritime Safety Administration patrol vessel Haixun 01 and Malaysian naval vessel Bunga Mas 6.

In addition, the Malaysian survey vessel KD MUTIARA is en route to Western Australia from Lumut, Malaysia to assist in the bathymetric survey work and should arrive later this month.

The bathymetric survey of the high priority area is expected to be completed by September.

A recent map of the bathymetric survey can be found on the Joint Agency Coordination Centre (JACC) webpage.

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