BAM BLOG

How TCAS 7.1 Updates Have Improved Flight Safety and Made Airspaces Safer

We cannot imagine modern aviation without considering flight safety and airspace protocols. NextGen Systems and evolving technology like TCAS 7.1 updates feature advanced automated data interpretation to help pilots with in-flight instructions. These are among the most essential elements of modern avionics engineering and airspace management.

However, many private aircraft in the US have not upgraded their flight navigation equipment in years. Leading US aviation companies like Boca Aircraft Maintenance, LLC provide TCAS 7.1 updates since 2012. However, few private aircraft owners keep their avionics up to date unless they fly internationally.

All aircraft must be equipped with a standard set of avionics according to NextGen Systems and EUROCONTROL Link 2000+ protocols. However, currently TCAS 7.1 is still most commonly used international system for navigating over regulated airspace. Avionics engineering companies like BAM can upgrade your aircraft according to these international mandates.

Why TCAS 7.1 Updates are Essential for Flight Safety and Accurate Airspace Mapping

TCAS is the acronym for Traffic Collision Avoidance System. Your plane’s TCAS system is the primary pilot interface for flight safety management. The on-board transponders reveal aircraft location within a 3-dimensional map of the airspace. However, this flight navigation equipment only works if both aircraft’s TCAS is properly configured and updated. The components on a TCAS system include the computer unit, antennas and transponder units, and cockpit presentation. TCAS 7.1 enabled planes can process ADS-B information using hybrid surveillance and interrogate any intruding aircraft faster.

TCAS II is a standard avionics engineering feature within an aircraft’s guidance apparatus since the mid-1980s. Unfortunately, before NextGen Systems or EUROCONTROL Link 2000+, pilots often received conflicting information in-flight. The current TCAS 7.1 updates are only mandatory over EASA (European) airspace. Most US business and commercial aircraft have not upgraded from TCAS II 7.0.

However, since the Überlingen mid-air collision of 2002, the biggest flaw in TCAS II 7.0 was uncovered. A communication error between ATC the aircrafts’ TCAS instructions cost 71 lives even under seasoned pilots with thousands of hours of flight experience. Hence this tragic incident is identified as the moment when aviation authorities everywhere began the push for TCAS 7.1 updates, which allowed RA reversal.

NextGen Systems and TCAS 7.1 Updates

It is important to remember that the TCAS is not an independent system from the rest of your avionics. While TCAS 7.1 was already implemented before ADS-B was made mandatory, these two systems work in union. The avionics engineering team from Boca Aircraft Maintenance always conduct complete diagnostic tests before new installation or software updates. A single malfunctioning gauge sensor, transponder, or data-link router can cause a disaster.

The protocols defined by NextGen Systems and mandatory equipment like ADS-B will greatly improve flight safety. However, we must understand that avionics engineering and management is a constantly evolving field. No system is perfect, and a lot depends on human decision.

Many aircraft in the US are only now realizing the importance of upgraded flight navigation equipment. The ADS-B mandate has drawn a close deadline for all aircraft owners. No aircraft will get to use FAA regulated airspace without complying to NextGen Systems. The same goes for EUROCONTROL Link 2000+ for EASA airspace. Fortunately, both flight safety mandates have several common features. Hence, it is a good time to get TCAS 7.1 updates as well.

Here is what the BAM avionics engineering experts identify as prominent factors of this new system –

TCAS 7.1 Updates Work Better With ADS-B Messages

The latest versions of TCAS can use ADS-B information to perform better. Your plane’s TCAS can receive ADS-B messages from another plane to better interpret the sensory information. This lowers the interrogation rate between planes within a given airspace. Although not a part of NextGen Systems, these features allow earlier intruder detection, and give the pilots more time to adjust their flight path. ADS-B is set to be mandatory flight navigation equipment in the US, and TCAS 7.1 updates were mandated over Europe since 2012. Hence, we can safely say that most private aircraft flying Trans-Atlantic routes will have both these systems. Since airspaces in Europe and North America are getting more congested, the dual system will greatly benefit the pilot.

The Expertise of Your Avionics Engineering Company

The fact is that a lot of your flight safety depends on the expertise of your aviation maintenance company. If the engineers and technicians do not detect the minor errors in your avionics and wiring, these issues will pile up over time. In fact, even the TCAS 7.1 updates require configuration and test runs to ensure accuracy. A simple weak wiring may cause a crucial delay mid-flight. It is also important to find a reliable service provider with the right approval certificates. An aircraft may be cleared by the FAA for US airspace, but you would need to comply with different airspace authorities to fly internationally. However, smaller aviation companies in the US only install flight navigation equipment and provide aviation body work. These smaller companies may not have all the necessary compliance certificates to update aircraft for international flight routes.

BAM has over 20 certificates from various aviation agencies and commercial aircraft companies. The BAM team regularly gets training on the latest updates in the fields of aviation engineering and flight navigation equipment. This allows them to upgrade aircraft according to FAA’s NextGen Systems as well as international aircraft from Europe, South America, and Bermuda. However, unless guided by a reliable aviation company – your aircraft may not be up to date with the mandatory requirements.

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