ACSS SafeRoute+: Using ADS-B In Information to Streamline ATC Operations

by L3Harris on 03/12/2020

Airlines that retrofit their fleet with ACSS’ SafeRoute+ will not only take advantage of the flight efficiencies of ADS-B In technology, their flight crews can also make better real-time decisions, which will aid ATC in optimizing traffic flow in all visual conditions.

In its most basic form, Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast (ADS-B) Out continually transmits an aircraft’s location, intention, speed, direction, and altitude in real-time to ATC, so controllers can more safely and efficiently route traffic into and out of today’s increasingly congested airspace.

While the safety enhancements enabled by ADS-B Out are proving to be an unparalleled success, it quickly became apparent that the same, highly detailed aircraft position/intention information that ATC sees would be equally beneficial if it were available inside the cockpit of those aircraft.

Aircraft equipped with ADS-B In capabilities deliver all the real-time situational awareness benefits that the technology provides to ATC directly into the flight deck.

“ADS-B In applications can improve efficiency, capacity, and safety throughout the National Airspace System (NAS). Specifically, applications such as Airborne Situation Awareness (AIRB) augments a pilot’s traffic situational awareness, which improves safety,” Paul Takemoto, FAA Spokesperson said. “Additionally, improved identification of surrounding aircraft enables pilots to make more informed clearance requests to ATC, which can support flight efficiencies.”

While every flight crew will benefit from this information, in many instances the cost to upgrade legacy aircraft is extremely high.

ACSS SafeRoute+. The affordable solution to delivering ADS-B In into the cockpit.

SafeRoute+ from ACSS is the easiest way to create an en route environment of shared situational awareness between pilots and ATC. For example, for aircraft already equipped with ACSS’ TCAS, it’s a simple process which does not require the installation of EFBs.

All it takes is a simple software upgrade to the existing TCAS 3000SP™ or T3CAS® computers, and the addition of the new ACSS ADS-B Guidance Display (AGD) to deliver unparalleled awareness of other aircraft within the broadcast area.

As far as what types of ADS-B In capabilities will be most advantageous to pilots and controllers, Takemoto said that, along with much greater Airborne Situational Awareness (AIRB), the three of the capabilities that will currently deliver the greatest benefits are CDTI-Assisted Visual Separation (CAVS), In Trail Procedures (ITP) and Interval Management (IM).

“CAVS assists pilots in maintaining visual separation during visual approach procedures, improving arrival throughput by allowing visual approach operations to continue when they would have otherwise been stopped,” he stated. “In-Trail Procedures (ITP) allows pilots to climb or descend to optimal altitudes in oceanic airspace when they otherwise could not, due to traffic. The benefits of ITP are fuel savings and the corresponding environmental benefits from operating more closely to the aircraft’s optimal cruise altitude.”

“Interval Management (IM) utilizes ground-based and flight-deck systems to provide precise inter-aircraft spacing between aircraft, providing air traffic controllers with another tool to manage traffic flows,” Takemoto said. “There are many different types of clearances within the scope of IM, but they all provide for increased traffic flow capacity in high-density arrival and approach environments.”

“The FAA expects that airlines will invest in ADS-B In avionics in order to take advantage of the benefits available in the near future. AIRB and CAVS can yield benefits now, as well as ITP in certain oceanic domains,” he said. “IM will become available over the next few years, which gives airlines time to equip their fleets. Equipping early may give an airline a competitive advantage.”

Speaking of equipping now,, because SafeRoute+ is a non-integrated solution, as various new capabilities are introduced, airlines will be able to migrate from basic to more advanced applications while keeping costs specific to their operations.

One of those “future applications” Takemoto described is Trajectory Based Operations (TBO). TBO is an Air Traffic Management (ATM) method for strategically planning, managing, and optimizing flights throughout the operation by using time-based management, information exchange between air and ground systems, and the aircraft’s ability to fly precise paths in time and space.

“ADS-B is a foundational technology supporting TBO, which promises benefits in high-density operations,” he said. “Accordingly, the FAA will continue implementing proven technologies that support its vision for Trajectory Based Operations.”

ADS-B In will be in-demand around the world.
While the U.S. is the only Air Traffic Control system that currently uses visual approaches, the added situational awareness and safety benefits of technologies like SafeRoute+ may be the motivation for other countries to evaluate the advantages of ADS-B In enabled approaches like CAVS, ITP, and IM.

European ADS-B In implementation.
ACSS is currently working with the FAA, Eurocontrol, ICAO, Airbus, the SESAR Joint Undertaking and NLR, in various studies to evaluate, test, and monitor the benefits of ADS-B In technologies to improve traffic flows.

Additionally, ACSS is currently partnering with Thales to participate in a major demonstration of ADS-B In-based surface ADS-B applications that are scheduled to run through 2022.

China’s move to ADS-B In.
As the Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC) begins to prepare for its own ADS-B Out mandate, ACSS, with support of Thales ASW/ATW and other major providers, is socializing the many benefits of ADS-B In at various CAAC events.

ACSS is also working with the CAAC in promoting the use of ADS-B in through an ongoing series of demonstrations and evaluations. For example, ACSS, Airbus, and Thales recently conducted a very successful ADS-B In demonstration with three Juneayo Airlines aircraft in Shanghai.

India’s ADS-B In implementation plan.
As one of the largest, and fastest-growing in-country airspace systems, the Indian government has already identified ADS-B In technology for improved throughput through the country. ACSS is working closely with India’s aviation leaders to play an active role in ADS-B In technologies at major airports.

Throughout the world, ADS-B In is proving to be a major enabler of not only greatly enhanced situational awareness in the air, but also on the ground. The unparalleled accuracy of the locating capabilities of ADS-B In will provide a major step forward in reducing the number of runway incursions during low-visibility situations.