April 9, 2013
By Jim Moore
Avidyne Corp. President and CEO Dan Schwinn discusses the new Airborne Traffic Situational Awareness with Alerts (TSAA) system being developed in conjunction with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and FAA. The systems and protocols will be incorporated in products expected this year.
False alarms will be a thing of the past, and the next generation of traffic alerting will be better able to calculate the likelihood of conflict in the air.
Avidyne Corp. has worked since 2011 with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the FAA to develop the next generation of traffic alerting, which combines position data gleaned from Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast (ADS-B), active scanning of nearby transponders, ground radar returns, and an algorithm that constantly calculates aircraft trajectories to drastically reduce false alerts, while giving pilots at least 30 seconds of warning if a collision is imminent.
The technology, dubbed “VeriTAS,” is being flight tested now, and Avidyne President Dan Schwinn said he was encouraged by recent conversations with the FAA that certification will be possible as early as the third quarter, despite federal budget cuts known as “sequestration” that have forced the impending closure of 149 contract air traffic control towers and cutbacks in FAA payroll. The company is also working to certify the IFD 540 and IFD 440 navigation units, along with expanding the list of aircraft and configurations approved for the DFC90 autopilot, which offers safety features including envelope alerting and protection.
“They understood that these are priority programs for us,” Schwinn said of the recent conversation with FAA officials regarding certification.
The collaboration with MIT on developing the hybrid active and passive traffic alert system put Avidyne on a fast track to market with the upcoming TAS605A, TAS615A, and TAS620A systems, ranging in price from $10,990 to $20,990. The entry-level model, the TAS605A, is designed for “mid-performance aircraft and helicopters,” with a 21-nautical-mile range for ADS-B alerts.
Schwinn said that by combining all of the available routes to track surrounding aircraft (including radar signals relayed from ADS-B ground stations, ADS-B signals directly from aircraft equipped to broadcast ADS-B Out, and transponder signals), the system is able to detect the broadest possible range of targets. It then calculates, in real time, the trajectory and velocity of surrounding aircraft. Only if an aircraft is on course to conflict within 30 seconds is an alert generated—a significant improvement over older collision avoidance technology that will, for example, issue alerts when two aircraft are flying parallel approaches to different runways but not closing the distance between them.
Avidyne is offering a $2,000 upgrade option for owners of older-model 600-series traffic alerting systems, a combination of hardware and software that will add the new alerting technology. The TAS600 active-surveillance traffic system designed for single-engine piston aircraft remains available for $8,490, and all new models being shipped are ready to be upgraded when the new technology is approved (with no need to spend the $2,000). The active-surveillance system scans for transponder signals, but not ADS-B.
Avidyne’s ADS-B Out solution is the AXP340 Mode S 1090 MHz Extended Squitter transponder, previously announced.
AOPA Online Associate Editor Jim Moore joined AOPA in 2011 and is an instrument-rated private pilot who enjoys competition aerobatics.
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