Elec­tronic con­spicu­ity: GA pi­lots’ views

Pilot - - NOTES - The full re­port can be viewed at: pub­l­i­capps.caa.co.uk/modalap­pli­ca­tion.aspx? ap­pid=11&mode=de­tail&id=8864

In Septem­ber 2017 the CAA con­ducted a sur­vey ask­ing GA pi­lots for their views on elec­tronic con­spicu­ity. 1,600 re­sponded, three-quar­ters of them pi­lots of sin­gleengine fixed-wing aero­planes. Glider pi­lots ac­counted for twelve per cent, with hot air bal­loon, mi­cro­light and ro­tary wing fliers mak­ing up the rest.

Pi­lots were asked about their use – or not – of elec­tronic con­spicu­ity de­vices, and the sur­vey also ex­plored key is­sues that may af­fect wide­spread adop­tion of this tech­nol­ogy, with the ob­jec­tive of help­ing the Au­thor­ity to de­velop a strat­egy for en­cour­ag­ing the use of de­vices across the GA fleet. ADS-B is the CAA’S pre­ferred tech­nol­ogy stan­dard for achiev­ing air­borne sit­u­a­tional aware­ness for pi­lots and air traf­fic con­trollers. ‘In­ter­op­er­abil­ity is the over­rid­ing fac­tor in the se­lec­tion of any sys­tem – de­vices sim­ply have to be com­pat­i­ble to achieve any safety gains,’ it says.

Only one-in-six fixed-wing aero­plane pi­lots re­ported that they were al­ready us­ing ADS-B, mostly in­te­grated with a Mode S transpon­der. A fur­ther third flew air­craft that are Mode S equipped but have not been adapted to use ADS-B. Al­most 90% of glider pi­lots who re­sponded use FLARM – the anti-col­li­sion sys­tem de­signed specif­i­cally for glid­ers.

‘Asked if they be­lieved that full elec­tronic con­spicu­ity across the GA fleet would ben­e­fit safety, nearly nine-tenths of all those who re­sponded thought it would in­deed im­prove flight safety as a whole,’ re­ports the CAA. ‘Look­ing at the spe­cific ad­van­tages of con­spicu­ity, 83% of aero­plane pi­lots iden­ti­fied col­li­sion avoid­ance and im­proved cock­pit/ ground-based sit­u­a­tional aware­ness as the prin­ci­pal safety ben­e­fits.’

The sur­vey also looked at fac­tors that would en­cour­age pi­lots to use a low-pow­ered ADS-B de­vice. Pur­chase cost came out top for two-thirds of aero­plane pi­lots, while com­pat­i­bil­ity with Mode S was im­por­tant to six out of ten. For more-than-half of re­spon­dents, the abil­ity to re­ceive flight in­for­ma­tion or weather data via ADS-B was a sig­nif­i­cant at­trac­tion.

‘When it comes to cost, nine out of ten pi­lots are will­ing to spend more than £100 on new ADS-B kit,”’ says the CAA. ‘Forty per cent of re­spon­dents said they were pre­pared to pay be­tween £100-£250 for a de­vice, while a fur­ther fifty per cent were will­ing to in­vest £250-£500. The sur­vey re­sults in­di­cate that the GA com­mu­nity recog­nises the need for the ex­pan­sion of elec­tronic con­spicu­ity use within the UK. The CAA be­lieves that the take-up of de­vices will im­prove over­all safety lev­els, as well as in­creas­ing airspace ac­cess for GA pi­lots. En­hanced equipage may also help the fu­ture chal­lenges such as ac­cess to airspace and in­cor­po­rat­ing the en­hanced fu­ture use of drones.’

While the sur­vey has helped to af­firm the CAA’S am­bi­tions for wide scale de­ploy­ment of ADS-B across the GA fleet, it says that ‘sig­nif­i­cant work still needs to be done with the GA com­mu­nity to en­sure the nec­es­sary tech­no­log­i­cal and sys­tem stan­dards are achieved in part­ner­ship.’

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