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Global Avionics Mandates: Progress and Challenges

With 2016 proving to be a pivotal year for global avionics mandates, we explore the latest updates on the various mandates taking hold across the globe.

2016 is a pivotal year for global avionics mandates. While some areas of the world have established mandates that already require compliance, others have mandates on the cusp, while several countries are still considering adopting mandates that are already in place in other areas of the world.

U.S. and Europe

Today, the United Sates and Europe feature the most advanced forms of Air Traffic Management (ATM) ground infrastructure and feature the largest number of upcoming immediate mandates that impact operators. The Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast (ADS-B) mandate is set for DO-260B in the United States for Jan. 1, 2020, and DO-260 in Europe for forward fit by June 8, 2016, and for retrofit by June 8, 2020.

“The EU ADS-B mandate is nevertheless less stringent than the U.S. ADS-B mandate and does not define the required ADS-B horizontal position data quality, accepting that the nominal performance of current GPS receivers, including the older ETSO-C129a, is sufficient to support five nautical mile en-route and three nm terminal separation minima. These differences are consistent with the current differences in surveillance requirements between the United States and the EU. The European operators flying to the United States will have to adjust to the U.S. mandate in accordance with the rules of the Equip 2020 ADS-B program,” says Mario Araujo, vice president of engineering at Tap Portugal maintenance and engineering.

Difficulties with global mandates exist within the complexity of the mixture of categories of airspace users and fleet types. According to research compiled by Araujo, who is a member of the Airlines Electronic Engineering Committee (AEEC) executive committee, and works with several working groups including Equip 2020 in the United States and Single European Sky ATM Research Joint Undertaking Deployment Manager (SESAR JU DM) in Europe, there are close to “43,000 aircraft and 86,000 transponders [that need] to be modified [before the 2020 mandate], including all categories, ranging from air transport to regional to business to military aircraft.”

The ADS-B mandates also come along with the Traffic Collision Avoidance System (TCAS) 7.1 mandate, which is unique to Europe as it requires in-service TCAS systems to be Change 7.1 compliant by Jan., 1, 2017, because 7.1 contains algorithms that enhance the logic for monitoring and adjusting resolution advisory commands. This specifically pertains to areas where TCAS determines a reversal of a pilot input to climb or descend, or implement an adjustment of vertical speed commanded in the resolution advisory to include a level-off command as required for an aircraft’s projected flight path.

SWISS Airlines, which flies in both U.S. and EU airspace, is TCAS ready, but still exploring options for ADS-B.

“For the TCAS 7.1 mandate we started the required modification already in 2011 after the publication of the applicable Implementing Rule. Today our whole fleet is compliant,” says Jorg Neubert head of projects and development, flight operations engineering at SWISS Airlines.” Regarding the ADS-B Out regulation, we are currently evaluating the impact on the avionics of the aircraft in order to be compliant. The situation is quite complex as we also have to take into account the FAA ADS-B mandate for a part of our fleet and there are differences between the European and the FAA regulation in terms of position source equipment requirements.”

The other major mandate facing operators is the Data Link Services (DLS) mandate governed by Regulation EC No. 29/200 and later amended by implementing regulation EU 2015/310, which established data link capability obligations for aircraft operators. There are performance issues that have to do with the high density of VHF stations on ground and the unintended and sustained loss of the air-ground Controller–Pilot Data Link Communications (CPDLC) connectivity for periods of over six minutes. These are known as the Provider Aborts (PA), and their rate is currently above 5 percent in the European airspace, much above the desired target of one PA per 100 hours of usage of CPDLC, according to Araujo.

FAA Administrator Michael Huerta.Photo courtesy of the FAA

“As a consequence, the dates of this European mandate have been pushed forward, the new targets being, for all aircraft equipped: Feb. 5, 2020; and all of EU ANSPs equipped: Feb. 5, 2018 — before the dates were Feb. 5, 2015 for both. This means that some of the already modified aircraft will meanwhile cease operations or move to another jurisdiction where the rule does not apply, which represents a lot of spending being wasted by the European operators. Like most of other operators, TAP already equipped all the short-haul aircraft, spending a double figure in millions of dollars in the equipage,” Araujo said.

European Aviation Safety Agency Executive Director Patrick Ky.Photo courtesy of EASA

An ongoing SESAR JU study is analyzing the PA issues to provide the most appropriate data link deployment options in Europe moving forward. The existing data link infrastructure based on a single frequency VHF Data Link (VDL) Mode 2 and a multi-frequency infrastructure is going to be necessary in Europe going forward.

Asia Pacific and Rest of World

Australia, Hong Kong, Indonesia and Singapore all currently have airspace mandates in place requiring ADS-B operations in at least some of their mandates.

Both China and Japan are still evaluating the implementation of an ADS-B mandate, though currently nothing exists requiring equipage in either airspace by 2020.

While airlines based in the Asia Pacific are more reluctant to discuss progress with airspace mandates in detail, Blair Cowles, regional director of safety and flight operations for the Asia Pacific at the International Air Transportation Association (IATA) believes the region is moving along with ADS-B progress smoothly.

“The Asia-Pacific region is well advanced in its implementation of ADS-B technology, with many states having implemented ADS-B Out services. There is a very high percentage of aircraft that operate in the region that are ADS-B equipped, and in general the region’s airlines have no problems with the implementation of this technology. IATA has been working closely with civil aviation regulatory authorities in the region to monitor ATM modernization programs to ensure the investments made in ATM capability deliver the expected service outcomes and efficiencies necessary to manage projected increases in air traffic in the region,” says Cowles.

Cowles points to the development of a distributed sub regional Air Traffic Flow Management (ATFM) system as an area that IATA is actively involved in. “Asia Pacific is the largest aviation market globally and a centralized ATFM system such as in Europe or the United States is not practical in the medium term. Therefore, the region has to develop a unique system that will provide linked flow management between a number of states and airspaces,” he adds.

A progress report on Japan’s Collaborative Actions for Renovation of Air Traffic Systems (CARATS) recently released by the Japan Civil Aviation Bureau (JCAB) and Japan Meteorological Agency (JMA) states that the number of aircraft flying in Japan will exceed the limits of air traffic control capacity there by 2025.

“In the CARATS project of Japan, renovation of air traffic system has been discussed among various stakeholders, such as government organizations, research institutes, manufacturers and airlines. The measures relating aeronautical meteorology will be effective to address increase of air traffic, to improve safety and efficiency on aircraft operations, and to realize Trajectory-based Operation (TBO) which is one of the main directions of renovation in CARATS,” JCAB writes in the progress report. AVS