Avionics News March 2017 - 46
WHAT'S NEXT WITH NEXTGEN?
constraints, provides alerts, and helps determine
appropriate traffic flow adjustments.
Automation Replacement System, or STARS.
By giving controllers a more complete picture of current
airspace, STARS is a fundamental part of the NextGen
technology that will further enable the optimization of
ADS-B and other modern airspace programs.
Controllers will use STARS to provide more efficient
ATC services to pilots operating in the terminal airspace
surrounding major airports. These services include
separation and sequencing of traffic, conflict and terrain
avoidance alerts, weather advisories, and radar vectoring
for departing and arriving aircraft.
Safety Management System
The FAA's NextGen SMS had been developed to
implement the policies, processes and analytical tools
that the FAA and aviation industry will use to ensure that
changes introduced with emerging NextGen capabilities
and services continue to improve safety, while delivering
increased capacity and efficiency benefits to all users.
The essential idea of the FAA's NextGen SMS is to
provide a systematic approach to achieving the highest
degree of safety risk. The program is comprised of four
* Safety policy, which defines the methods, processes
and organizational structure to meet NextGen safety goals.
* Safety risk management to determine the need for new
or revised risk controls.
* Safety assurance, which evaluates the continued
effectiveness of risk control strategies and supports the
identification of new hazards.
* Safety promotion, which includes training,
communication and other actions to create a positive safety
culture with all levels of the workforce.
The robots are coming
Of course, you can't talk about the NextGen and
the NAS without including the FAA's plans for safely
integrating unmanned aircraft systems in the airspace with
Walker, who co-chaired the FAA committee working
on detect-and-avoid solutions for UAS that are going to
fly at altitude and integrate with manned aircraft, said the
FAA will publish the first version of the detect and avoid
standards in early 2017.
"These standards will enable larger UAS to actually
participate in the NAS right along with manned aircraft,"
he said. "Obviously, to do this, they will be required to
have a surveillance system that is every bit as capable, if
not better, than the human eye in the sky."
As Walker explained, that equipment will include
ADS-B Out/In, an active surveillance device similar to
TCAS II that will actively pull information off other
transponder-equipped aircraft, and a primary radar that can
see plus or minus 110 degrees in the forward field of view.
"These three sensors are then used to actively scan the
airspace around the UAS," he said. "That information is
downlinked over the command and control network to the
ground station where the UAS pilot/operator can make
decisions pertaining to traffic avoidance. The UAS will
be flying under IFR rules so air traffic control will be in
constant contact with the pilot/operator.
"We have been testing that system for a couple of
years in conjunction with General Atomics and NASA
down at Edwards Air Force Base. The system is working
great. Soon, we will have the standards folks can use to
actually get approval for operations of these large UAS in
Decision Support Systems
The NextGen DSS will integrate several data-sharing
technologies among air traffic controllers, traffic managers,
pilots and other stakeholders to optimize air traffic flow
across the NAS.
DSS not only provides improved communications,
it also searches for and alerts operators to changing
conditions that call for a decision. At the same time, it
also develops and analyzes possible courses of action to
ultimately aid in the decision-making process.
Another element of DSS is the Traffic Flow
Management System. TFMS monitors demand and
capacity information, accesses the impact of system
Completing NextGen is just the beginning
As one anonymous governmental representative shared,
"The NextGen upgrade to the national airspace system
is a lot like the government's ongoing improvements to
the nation's interstate (highway) system. As soon as you
finish a section, it's time to go back and start over again."
That's a good way to sum it up. Technology is
advancing at such a rapid rate that some of the FAA's
NextGen systems will be like Window's Vista by the time
they're fully implemented. And that's not a bad thing.
With any luck at all, at least a few of the next NextGen
systems will require some type of hardware upgrade to an
aircraft, which is always good for business at the shop. q
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