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uAvionix enables ground surveillance for runway safety

uAvionix, an aviation technology company known for its ADS-B transponders and related equipment, said it delivered its surface situational awareness systems to Austin-Bergstrom International Airport in Texas and Indianapolis International Airport. Air traffic controllers are to begin using the safety systems on June 30.

Photo courtesy of uAvionix.

The safety systems, called FlightLine, are designed to help aircraft maintain safe distances from each other and avoid collisions while maneuvering on the ground. Numerous reports of runway incursions and close calls during ground operations since the beginning of 2023 have sharpened focus on runway safety. The FAA has prioritized runway safety improvement and tested new technology including ADS-B—a less expensive alternative to expanding airport surface radar coverage.

While the rise of ADS-B has made monitoring airborne traffic easier and more efficient, it is less effective on the ground in the absence of ground-based infrastructure. At most airports, controllers, pilots, and drivers rely on visual separation of aircraft and vehicles. The FlightLine monitoring system, which tracks aircraft and other airport vehicles, will allow safer and more efficient movement on the airport, uAvionix said.

“This significant milestone marks the first approvals under the FAA’s Surface Awareness Initiative (SAI), part of a broader effort to enhance runway safety across the nation,” said Christian Ramsey, chief commercial officer for uAvionix. “The uAvionix systems employ its cutting-edge Automatic Dependent Surveillance – Broadcast service called FlightLine, providing controllers with real-time, precise depictions of aircraft and vehicles on the airport surface, thereby improving situational awareness and reducing the risk of runway incursions.”

Working with the FAA and the National Air Traffic Controllers Association, the two airports installed several of uAvionix’s VTU-20 ADS-B Vehicle Movement Area Transmitters, or VMATS, on airport vehicles. The VTU-20 is an FAA-approved system that allows tower personnel to track vehicles that operate on runways and taxiways, as well as ADS-B-equipped aircraft.

The company said the recent FAA approvals support its long-term plans to improve airspace safety at airports across the nation.

Jonathan Welsh
Jonathan Welsh
Digital Media Content Producer
Jonathan Welsh is a private pilot, career journalist and lifelong aviation enthusiast who previously worked as a writer and editor with Flying Magazine and the Wall Street Journal.
Topics: Collision Avoidance, Runway Safety, Situational Awareness

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