In December 2017, Shanghai-based Juneyao Airlines in partnership with Airbus and the Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC) completed China’s first commercial airliner flight demonstration using ADS-B In.
The demonstration was performed using three Airbus A321s on approach to Shanghai’s Hongquiao International Airport. Each of the A321s was equipped with cockpit displays that enabled the use of air traffic situational awareness (ATSA) enhanced visual separation on approach (VSA) ADS-B In application. ACSS, an L3 and Thales company, was also a partner on the flight demonstration project, as the use of the ADS-B In application was hosted on the company’s T3CAS Integrated Surveillance System.
Juneyao’s ADS-B In Flight Test
According to the latest CAAC report, Shanghai’s Hongqiao International Airport, the site of Juneyao’s ADS-B In demonstration, is China’s seventh busiest with 42 million passengers per year passing through the Chinese aviation hub. Considering projected future traffic growth in Chinese airspace, it served as the perfect location for flight testing the use of ADS-B In.
The flight test was completed by Juneyao on a terrain and collision avoidance system that combines multiple different capabilities into a 4-6 modular concept unit. According to ACSS it can also support the Airbus Runway Overrun Prevention System (ROPS).
Li Gokun, the A320 fleet manager for Juneyao Airlines, told Avionics he can see the Shanghai-based carrier’s use of ADS-B In evolving into the future.
“If we use ADS-B In, we can know the aircraft’s flight number, relatively its altitude, ground speed and flight direction,” said Gokun.
Juneyao’s A321s used the T3CAS computer, which is capable of hosting terrain awareness warning system, Mode S transponder and ADS-B In applications in one box. The modular concept unit (MCU) uses an integrated radio frequency (RF) transceiver module for the terrain collision avoidance and Mode S functions. As a result, only a single set of antennas is required, reducing the aircraft antenna count and cabling, according to ACSS. The 4-MCU version of the computer has performance from sea level up to 55,000 feet in minus 55 to 70 deg C with an ADS-B receiver availability of more than 95%. It uses the data-loading user datagram protocol (UDP) and is Ethernet-compliant. The bigger 6-MCU version requires forced air cooling per the ARINC 600 standard.
Gokun said Juneyao could particularly take advantage of ADS-B In during times where flights are landing and taking off in rapid succession at Hongqiao International Airport, one of two international airports in Shanghai.
“[ADS-B In] can improve a pilot’s situational awareness. When air traffic control (ATC) instructs another aircraft, if this aircraft is visible on our navigation display, the pilot will know where this aircraft is quickly,” said Gokun. “Sometimes, when ATC is busy, they cannot give pilots speed control in time. Using ADS-B, the pilot can adjust the speed to control the separation with previous aircraft to avoid go around.”
He also sees the use of ADS-B leading to a reduction in voice communications, as well as reducing both pilot and controller workload — along with fewer mistakes, fewer conflicts and improved capacity at Chinese airports.
Juneyao’s pilots and CAAC officials received a technical briefing on ADS-B and airborne traffic situational awareness (ATSAW). The briefing was lead by the CNS-ATM flight operations support and training standards division of Airbus. In addition to performing ADS-B In flight operations at Hongqiao International Airport, Juneyao’s A321s are also capable of flying ATSA-ITP for reduced separations flying within oceanic airspace.
“The flight test organized in cooperation with CAAC, Juneyao Airlines and Thales/ACSS enabled to demonstrate on the field the benefits on airspace capacity of ATSA-VSA in [visual meteorological conditions (VMC)] and to unveil the potential of future steps of ADS-B In technology in marginal-VMC and IMC,” said Julien Frard, one of the lead engineers for the CNS-ATM flight operations support division of Airbus. According to Frard, Airbus is developing more advanced airborne and ground implementation of ADS-B In technology with Juneyao and other carriers.
Frard said the completion of the flight test with Juneyao confirmed the “technical readiness” of ATSA-VSA in VMC. Additionally, the test confirmed the benefits of ADS-B In functionality integrated into cockpit displays in the pilot forward field of view.
“The operator’s use of enhanced visual separation on approach demonstrated more efficient management of spacing between aircraft with a potential of reducing traffic congestion in the Chinese airspace,” Terry Fleishans, president of ACSS told Avionics. He added that the manufacturer will support future ADS-B In demonstrations in China and elsewhere around the world.
ADS-B’s Future in China
In a CAAC-held ADS-B operation and implementation seminar in August 2017, CAAC Deputy Administrator Li Jian confirmed that the country’s aviation regulatory agency sees ADS-B as a central part of filling future Chinese airspace system modernization needs. Jian said CAAC is following the ADS-B implementation roadmap that was first publicly unveiled at the 39th session of the International Civil Aviation Organization’s (ICAO) Assembly in 2016 and was presented on behalf of China.
The plan occurs in three phases, with the first phase focusing on CAAC’s 2017 deployment of 308 ADS-B ground stations in China. Between now and 2020, the second phase sees CAAC completing safety assessments for ADS-B Out and demonstrating different ADS-B capabilities, such as those performed in the Juneyao flight test in Shanghai. CAAC’s total ADS-B infrastructure, at completion by July 2019, is to feature 310 ADS-B ground stations, two primary ADS-B data processing center and eight secondary ADS-B data processing centers.
Airbus’ Frard said one of the key accomplishments of completing a demonstration such as Juneyao’s in Shanghai is simply the promotion of ADS-B and making it more normalized within China’s commercial aviation ecosystem.
“All initiatives like CAAC trials or SESAR trials enable a new step forward to boost operators’ and air traffic controllers’ interest in ADS-B In enhancements for both airborne and ground operations,” said Frard. “Airlines’ attraction for ADS-B In also benefits from the fact that more and more authorities are publishing operational mandates on ADS-B Out — initially in Australia followed by the U.S., Europe, United Arab Emirates, China and so on.”
Details about China’s progress on ADS-B implementation were published at the latest meeting of the Southeast Asia and Bay of Bengal Sub-Regional ADS-B Implementation Working Group in November 2017. Progress showed that CAAC’s air traffic modernization wing had selected two types of configurations for its ADS-B ground stations: one being an omni-directional antenna station and the other an omni-directional plus directional antenna combined into one station. The omnidirectional antenna ground station is used for en-route and low-density traffic area, and the directional antenna ground station is used in the terminal area and the high-density traffic area, according to a white paper from the meeting published by the ICAO working group. Testing results of the ADS-B ground stations in China were also published by the working group, leaving some ADS-B ground station work ahead of CAAC as testing of the ground stations found that it will be necessary to upgrade the “data transmission mechanism of ADS-B data according to EUROCAE ED-129B standard due to standard evolution.” AVS