Communication, navigation and surveillance (CNS) systems are the building blocks on which air traffic management operates. Despite many activities in the CNS domain there remain a number of areas where more research is needed. This topic looks at CNS for GA.
With reference to the SJU Annual Work Programme 2016, this topic covers Section 3.5.4, sub Work area 1.2 topic c).
The GA community is large and operates a wide variety of aircraft types, ranging from para-gliders costing under 2,000 € to multi-engined aircraft costing several million Euros. As CNS technologies become more complex to support the needs of the commercial aviation community, the GA community can find it hard or impossible to afford the many complex certified systems that are being developed. One possible solution is to allow smaller non-certified technologies, developed specifically to be used by the GA community, to be used alongside the more-expensive full specification, certified devices.
Research projects are expected to propose ideas for combining existing on-board, new and evolving technologies and ground equipment for enhancing CNS capabilities for GA and rotorcraft. The target community for this research is at the lower end of the capability, where many operators are private with a real need for low-cost devices. Ideas should include not only technological issues, but also how use of such equipment could be enabled through an appropriate measure of standardisation, certification and regulation.
Research ideas shall address CNS solutions for GA and rotorcraft communities, which are combined due to the similar needs for miniaturization and integration capabilities. However, it should not be assumed that all ideas will be appropriate for both communities, and differences, where identified, should be clearly addressed.
Applicants are free to select areas of research, but the following ideas are presented to stimulate thinking:
In the communication domain, 3G and 4G (and maybe 5G) mobile telecommunications networks could be used to deliver a low-cost data link capability to enable flight, aeronautical and meteorological information to be shared with the pilot in flight.
In the navigation domain innovative research ideas, concepts and technologies for small aircraft are needed as a suitable back-up/continuity system for GNSS (e.g. affordable inertial systems and use of ‘other’ signals (signals of opportunity) for navigation integrity). The options for advanced alternative PNT systems should also be considered.
In surveillance, ADS-B is being widely adopted, and benefits to pilots and ATC are clear. However, take-up in the GA community is low, mostly due to the cost of certified GNSS units and transponders. Projects could investigate how non-certified units could be used to provide the benefits to the GA community and to ATC, at a reasonable cost, without adversely affecting other airspace users or the wider ATC environment.
GA pilots sometimes lack the training and experience of their professional counterparts, and so the introduction of an array of new technologies and displays into the cockpit has the potential to distract the pilot from his/her primary actions. Such information-overload, from new displays such as traffic situational awareness, moving-map displays or data link terminals, could introduce a safety hazard by distracting the pilot from his/her visual traffic scan or from monitoring the primary flight instruments. The project shall also research the safety impact in terms of human factors associated with the introduction of new low-cost devices into the GA cockpit.
Applicants must demonstrate a good understanding of airborne aspects of GA operations and ATC. In addition, they must possess a good technological understanding of the technologies being researched and, where appropriate, spectrum management. Finally, applicants shall demonstrate a good understanding of standardisation, certification and regulation in the aviation domain.
The research activities shall cover the full picture. This includes development of the concept of operations, participation in periodic meetings, production of all the documentation related to the research (most notably including the project management plan and the final report), and results dissemination and communication activities. The demonstration report shall include a full analysis of operational, technological and regulatory issues for each technology researched. Recommendations for standardisation and regulation should be made, and anticipated difficulties should be highlighted.
There is a risk that, as the aviation environment becomes more complex and CNS technologies advance, GA operators could be priced out of the market, or their activities could be restricted by not being able to integrate with more advanced aviation stakeholders and environments. This research will help to narrow the gap, ensuring continued safe and unrestricted operations by the GA community.