FANS Aviation Navigation: What to Know About Data Comm Systems with FANS 1/A+

Data Comm is a highly complex system development that international and domestic Air Traffic Control organizations and the associated regulatory agencies have undertaken till date. Originally established as a feature for cost-savings, the Data Comm technology has been used in North Atlantic for more than three decades. Canadian and US authorities have established FANS 1/A+ requirement in some North Atlantic airspaces and ATN B1 (Aeronautical Telecommunications Network Baseline) ability in European airspace. In the US, the FAA is employing FANS aviation system Domestic functions by the implementation of CPDLC DCL (Controller-Pilot Data Link Communications Departure Clearance) capability to manage airspace, improve safety, and address congestion of communication frequency more effectively.  

Components of Data Comm 

The term Data Comm applies to an expanding set of data communication systems and elements that may be integrated neatly into a single system for transparency of flight crew. In such a case, there may be several CPDLC type systems having remarkably differing ground infrastructure which will largely operate and look the same on flight deck. Some Data Comm elements are almost entirely transparent to flight crew.  

The chief components of Data Comm include: 

  • Controller-Pilot Data Link Communications or CPDLC 
  • Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Contract or ADS-C (needed for FANS aviation system Oceanic)
  • Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast Out or ADS-B Out (for ATN B1/FANS operations) 
  • VDL Mode 2 data link radio and/or an appropriate SATCOM 

Development of FANS 1/A+ and Data Comm 

For aircraft to operate in remote/oceanic regions of airspace, it was essential to establish a method of surveillance and communication for managing aircraft that are out of range of conventional ground-based radar and VHF radio systems for prolonged periods. 

For long years, HF (HIGH Frequency) radio system had been the sole means of communication in oceanic/remote airspace. An HF radio system uses the atmosphere or line of sight for bouncing the transmissions to recipients. There are some problems associated with HF Radio because of noisy transmissions arising from language barriers and atmospheric conditions.  

FANS aviation system led to an improvement in HF radio communication by employing data link communication via satellite communications. The satellite-based existing ACARS (Aircraft Communications Addressing and Reporting System) was utilized when Data Comm Fans systems were implemented for the first time.  

In 1983, the industry officials were concerned about the increasing air traffic, and tried addressing an ageing infrastructure, not capable of effectively handling increasing congestion. In response to the issue, ICAO (International Civil Aviation Organization) set up the Special Committee for Data Comm FANS. The Special Committee was assigned the task of finding new technologies for development of surveillance and communication in the future which would help manage air traffic under Data Comm FANS infrastructure.  

In 1988, the initial FANS aviation system report was published that laid the foundation for the future strategy of the industry for CNS/ATM concept. Then, work began to develop the technical standards necessary for realizing Data Comm FANS concept.  

The Boeing Company declared the first implementation of FANS aviation system in early 1990s, called FANS-1. The aim of FANS-1 deployment was improving choice of route for operators, and thus, cut down fuel burn.  

A similar technology was later built by Airbus, called ‘FANS A’. The two technologies are today collectively called ‘FANS 1/A’. Minor enhancements have been added to it and is now referred to as FANS 1/A+. Today, Data Comm FANS uses CPDLC and automatic position reporting to communicate with ATC directly over VHF making use of SATCOM or VDL Mode 2 in place of ACARS, so as to facilitate more efficient communication between ATC and aircraft.  

Benefits of Data Comm FANS 1/A+ 

Decreased Separation Between Aircraft 

CDPLC communication between ATC and flight crew reduces communication error possibility drastically and allows diminished separation between aircraft in airspace. Heightened airspace capacity makes more desired routes available for aircraft flying in that airspace. 

Data Link Communication 

The VDL Mode 2 network is a high-capacity and high-speed digital communication network, providing around 20 times the message capacity compared to the commonly used ACARS. Using VDL Mode 2 is also more cost effective compared to traditional VHF.  

Data Comm FANS 1/A+ has a few more benefits other than these. 

FANS Aviation Technology (FANS 1/A+) – A Must-Have for Aircraft 

The future air navigation system (FANS 1/A+) is a highly helpful aircraft navigation system that can help ATCs and pilots identify the most economical and safest flight paths leveraging advanced satellite technology.  ATN B1 update – the latest FANS version – will be a mandate by February, 2020 over European airspace. If you are an aircraft owner, consider getting this latest version of FANS installed in your flying machine promptly.  

4 FAQs Answered About ADS-B Tracking System in Aviation

As something crucial to know for aircraft owners, it has been mandated by the FAA that airplanes flying in airspaces that require a Mode C transponder now must have ADS-B Out installed by January 1, 2020. The ADS-B tracking system is an integral element of NextGen modernization of air traffic.  

The ADS-B Out flight technology transmits information about location, airspeed, and altitude derived via GPS from an equipped airplane to the ground stations as well as to other equipped airplanes in the vicinity. Using this information, air traffic controllers “see” participating airplanes in real time aiming to improve traffic management.  

ADS-B In, although not included in the mandate and needs additional equipment, lets participating airplanes to receive weather and traffic information from the ADS-B ground stations as well as nearby airplanes that broadcast their positions via ADS-B Out. Situational awareness can be improved by displaying this information in the cockpit.  

The ADS-B 2020 mandate has no influence on current transponder requirements, which means airplanes must continue carrying transponders even after getting equipped with ADS-B Out 

Unlike most safety-based rulemaking activities, the ADS-B Out mandate is based on the need to support Next Generation Air Transportation System (NextGen) by the FAA. According to the FAA, the ADS-B Out mandate will not decrease or increase safety significantly but is essential to proceed with NextGen.  

Answers to Some FAQs About ADS-B Tracking System in Aviation 

1. Why is FAA shifting to ADS-B System, moving away from radar? 

ADS-B (Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast) is an innovative technology improving efficiency and safety, and benefiting the airlines, airports, controllers, pilots, and the public directly. It is the base for NextGen by shifting from navigational aids and ground radar to precise tracking through satellite signals. 

  • ADS-B flight tracker system allows pilots to see, for the first time, what controllers can see – displays featuring other airplanes in the sky. With cockpit displays, pilots can also get informed about hazardous terrain and weather and receive important flight information like temporary flight restrictions.  
  • With controller and cockpit displays available with ADS-B aviation technology, runway incursion risk is reduced. The controller and cockpit displays provide the location of airplanes as well as equipped ground vehicles at airport surfaces, even during heavy rainfall and nighttime. The newly developed ADS-B applications will help pilots get alerts or indications of potential collisions.  
  • Greater coverage can also be obtained with ADS-B tracking system as it’s far easier to place ground stations than radar. Remote regions that do not have radar coverage, such as parts of Alaska and Gulf of Mexico, have surveillance now with ADS-B.    
  • The use of satellites rather than ground navigational aids lets airplanes fly more directly from one point to another, with reduction in emissions and fuel burn, and savings on money and time.  
  • Satellite signals offer increased reliability, accuracy, and integrity than radar. This would eventually allow controllers to decrease the minimum separation distance safely between airplanes and improve capacity in the skies.  

 2. What are the rules of ADS-B? 

In May 2010, the FAA published the Federal Regulation 14 CFR § 91.227 and 14 CFR § 91.225. According to the final rule, aircraft flying in airspace that’s defined in 91.225 should be equipped with an ADS-B system which consists of a certified position source with the ability to fulfill requirements defined in 91.227.  

 3. ADS-B offers vertical air speed, aircraft number, and altitude. Will it provide horizontal air speed also? 

ADS-B tracking system reports two types of altitudes – geometric and barometric. Geometric altitude is determined by Global Positioning Satellites (GPS) as the aircraft’s height above earth ellipsoid. Pressure or barometric altitude is known best by pilots – it’s the altitude shown on the aircraft’s altimeter. Both the altitudes are different; having both facilitates applications requiring either of them as a source of altitude. 

ADS-B system does not report horizontal or vertical airspeed. Rather, the system reports vertical and horizontal velocity relative to Earth. This velocity helps in air traffic control functions as well as assists ADS-B technology applications.  

 4. When should I equip? 

The mandate requires ADS-B Out installation by January 1, 2020. This ADS-B compliance is required to continue flying in designated airspace. In case you do not need to fly in ADS-B-designated airspaces, then you do not need to equip your aircraft with ADS-B Out 

 

This information may help you get answers to some of your questions about ADS-B tracking system for aircraft. Following the ADS-B 2020 mandate, get your aircraft equipped with ADS-B Out promptly, as without the system installed, you will not be able to fly in US airspace after January 1, 2020.  

What are the Necessary Inspections for Aircraft Maintenance?

Aircraft inspections are a crucial element of aircraft maintenance to ensure that an aircraft is airworthy, efficient, and safe. The FAA (Federal Aviation Administration) also requires airplanes to get routinely inspected for them to be qualified to fly. A well-maintained plane delivers peak performance and suffers fewer breakdowns. Postponing or neglecting plane inspections can pose a risk to passengers. Moreover, a malfunction may lead to serious damage to an aircraft. Inspections help in discovering damaged components and worn parts before an issue arises.

Two chief types of aviation maintenance inspections are required for a Part 91 aircraft – the 100-hour inspections and the annual inspection. You are required to do only one inspection or both is determined by whether your aircraft carries passengers for hire.

Both the inspections include the same elements. The difference lies in who is authorized to carry them out and the inspection frequency.

Additionally, various equipment inspections are required besides the 100-hour and annual inspections.

Let’s have a look at the different inspections required for aircraft maintenance.

Annual Inspection

Most of the general aviation aircraft need an annual inspection. However, some airplanes are excluded that:

Possess a provisional certificate of airworthiness

Possess a current experimental certificate

Possess special flight permit; or

Use an approved plan for progressive inspection

The annual inspection must be completed as well as endorsed properly within the preceding 12 calendar months by a mechanic carrying an inspection authorization (IA). If the annual of an aircraft is endorsed on March 15, 2012, for example, the next annual for the aircraft is due prior to April 1, 2013. The aircraft, otherwise, shall require an authorization (like a ferry permit) for flying.

Ferry permit is needed for flying an aircraft that is out of annual, like when an aircraft flies to another airport to get inspected.

100-Hour Inspection

100-hour inspection is necessary for airplanes that:

Carry any person (apart from crew members) for hire; or

Are provided by an individual offering flight instruction for hire

This rule is applicable only to the individual providing the airplane, not the airplane. Hence, if the airplane is provided by a flight instructor for teaching the student, the 100-hour inspection is required. However, in case the airplane is owned by the student and the flight instructor is hired by the student to only fly with them, it’s not necessary to perform the 100-hour inspection.

The 100-hour limit can be exceeded by 10 hours, only in case the additional time is spent for flying the airplane to the site where a mechanic shall work on it. However, for example, you cannot fly for an additional 8 hours and spend the last 2 hours then for flying to the maintenance base. Moreover, you lose the extra time spent in flying to the next 100-hour inspection. Therefore, if an hour was spent in flying to the maintenance base, 99 hours remain until your next inspection.

Additional Inspections

The additional inspections required for efficient airline maintenance are as follows:

Altimeter

The static system of the aircraft, the automatic altitude-reporting (Mode C) system and the altimeter must have been tested and inspected in preceding 24 calendar months prior to flying IFR within controlled airspace.

Transponders

The inspection of the transponder must be performed every 24 calendar months. For a transponder to be qualified for being used, its inspection must be carried out every 24 calendar months. Moreover, any modification to the transponder or the installation of one must be inspected and checked for any data errors.

Emergency Locator Transmitter (ELT)

Inspection of the installed ELT’s must be carried out within 12 calendar months following their last inspection for sufficient signal strength, operation of the crash sensor/controls, battery corrosion, and proper installation. While the ELT check is not strictly required to be completed at the time of annual inspection, it’s a convenient time for performing this inspection.

Summing Up

These are the key aircraft inspections necessary for proper aircraft maintenance. If you own an airplane, ensure that all these inspections are performed on time so that your airplane works efficiently and glitch-free.

Aviation Mandates and Airspace Regulations You Must be Aware About

Several international airspace regulations, frequently changing aviation mandates, and safety protocols make it very challenging for private aircraft owners. Typically, private aircraft owners leave matters of mandates and updates to their trusted pilots and aviation service providers. Professional agents or charter companies provide the international airspace permits.
However, it is very important to know the most fundamental international aviation mandates. The flight path of your aircraft is constantly monitored and must be regulated carefully. This also means you’re your airplane must have the right kind of aviation equipment. At Boca Aircraft Maintenance, LLC, we understand how important information is for safer airspaces. Though these are highly technical matters full of acronyms and industry jargon, we’ll try and simply them for you.

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