The UK Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) has approved Manchester Barton Aerodrome’s ADS-B Flight Information Display (FID) using the uAvionix pingStation to receive ADS-B position data from aircraft on the ground and flying in the vicinity of the airfield.
The low-cost safety system provides real-time position data to air traffic staff operating in the tower and is the first ever FID approved for use in the UK under the CAA’s new FID regulations.
The concept of a FID is a recognition that the use of ADS-B OUT equipped aircraft enables low-cost airspace and aerodrome/airport situational awareness at a cost and scale not previously imagined. Prior to the advent and widespread adoption of ADS-B, multi-million-dollar radar solutions were required to provide surveillance capabilities.
These technologies were cost prohibitive, leaving most aerodromes/airports without any technological surveillance capability at all, instead relying on the line-of-sight visual capabilities of controllers in combination with radio communications. Since ADS-B OUT equipment relies on readily available certified or qualified equipment broadcasting the aircraft’s position from an approved high-integrity position source, the ground-based surveillance and display capability needed to provide situational awareness can be produced at a fraction of the cost of the legacy radar solutions.
Barton’s FID uses a uAvionix pingStation to receive ADS-B position data that is passed to the local FID computer, which displays the traffic situation to the Flight Information Service Officer (FISO) in the tower. For many years, general aviation pilots have had access to technology, such as the uAvionix SkyEcho2, enabling them to receive and display the position of other ADS-B conspicuous aircraft flying nearby to help avoid collisions. The CAA approved FID now provides an equivalent low-cost capability for FISOs and Air Traffic Control Officers (ATCOs) in the airfield tower.
The new CAA FID regulations were developed following extensive UK trials that gathered data to validate the safety case for allowing non-radar rated FISOs and ATCOs to use ADS-B information for the reporting of traffic information to pilots.
“The culmination of the trials, the announcement of the new regulations, and the Barton Aerodrome approval represent a significant enhancement to flight safety by bringing a low-cost surveillance solution to general aviation airfields using off the shelf hardware and applications that can be easily implemented,” said Steve Hutt, Custom Chess Company CEO, who guided the effort at Barton Aerodrome and oversaw the creation of FID templated documentation as a shared resource for all UK airfields.
The uAvionix pingStation 3, with a reception range of over 300 kilometers, receives ADS-B position data on both the 1090 MHz and 978 MHz frequencies. According to uAvionix, 978 MHz will become increasingly important in the UK as the CAA has announced the intention for uncrewed aircraft operating Beyond Visual Line of Sight (BVLoS) to use 978 MHz ADS-B for Electronic Conspicuity in support of detect and avoid (DAA) services. uAvionix technology was recently used for the first ever UK transmission of ADS-B OUT on 978 MHz for uncrewed DAA operations. Details of the uAvionix pingstation equipment can be found here.
The company has been at the forefront of developing FIDs in the UK since 2017 and remains a leader in aviation-data-as-a-service through its growing list of communication, navigation, and surveillance products and services.