Are you aware of the developments on the European Communication and Surveillance mandates?
Europe has been very busy in the past years to reform the way airspace is managed to build a more efficient system.
This complex restructuring requires significant changes to the current technical enablers, which are the Communications, Navigation and Surveillance Systems. The solutions proposed must fit all airspace users’ operational needs, including Business aviation.
Let us talk about communication first. Datalink represents the future in terms of communication, enabling digital communication between the pilot operating the flight and the air traffic controller. It is a crucial tool to increase flight operations’ efficiency. However, delays in deployment and unresolved performance and implementation issues have led to a situation where the amendment of the Datalink Services Implementing Rule introduces an exemption for “aircraft which have a certified maximum seating capacity of 19 passengers or less and a maximum take-off mass of 45,359 Kg (100 000 lbs.) or less, with a first individual certificate of airworthiness issued before 5 February 2020.”
This exemption is a genuine acknowledgement that ‘one size does not fit all’. The exemption means that most Business aviation operators are no longer bound to retrofit aircraft with a tool which only brings limited operational benefits. However, aircraft delivered with a first individual certificate of airworthiness issued as of 5 February 2020 must be equipped with this system.
The European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) has compiled a list of frequently asked questions (FAQs) on Datalink services and published them on their website. This FAQ is useful to enhance air operators’ (including Business aviation) understanding of the Datalink/controller-pilot Datalink (CPDLC) equipage requirements, and the flight operations using CPDLC.
Some issues remain to be solved. EBAA is in current talks with the European institutions to; harmonise the implementation of the regulation; tackle the reduced level of performance of the Datalink system, and; build the future communication infrastructure.
The airspace surveillance system also works as an essential means to guarantee flight safety and increase operational efficiency. It includes all the equipment for surveillance of flight movements of aircraft in the airspace.
One of the steps to modernise the airspace surveillance is the deployment of Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast (ADS-B). ADS-B relies on aircraft broadcasting their identity, position, and other information derived from onboard systems. EBAA supports the extension of ADS-B to aircraft weighing more than 5,700kg (or flying faster than 250kts), subject to a cost-benefit analysis of user gains, options for onboard deployment and the total cost of equipage.
Simultaneous implementation on the ground stations is needed to unleash all the benefits of ADS-B equipage. The requirements for ADS-B must address the operational needs of all airspace users and broadly accept the technical means of compliance existing elsewhere in the world. These conditions to enable a full uptake to this technology are not met yet, and the European Commission has recognised this.
Recently the European Regulation 1207/2011 ‘Laying down requirements for the performance and the interoperability of surveillance for the Single European Sky’ was amended to extend the deadline for ADS-B compliance by six months for Business aviation operators.
It also offers additional flexibility with the transition arrangements up to 7 June 2023 to comply with the mandate, as well as the exemption for aircraft ceasing operations before 31 October 2025.
Operators of aircraft made before 7 December 2020 will have until 7 June 2023 to comply with the ADS-B equipage mandate – if they have established a retrofit compliance program before the new 7 December deadline, and if the operator has not received funds from the European Union to bring the aircraft to ADS-B compliance.
The updated regulation also brings clarification with regards to the ADS-B requirements. Further work is, however, necessary to ensure; the implementation of ADS-B technology infrastructure on the ground and; the development of affordable solutions for General Aviation aircraft and adapted to the safety standards in the long-term.
ADS-B requirements should address the needs of all airspace users and ensure harmonised compliance in other regions of the world. EBAA and aviation stakeholders call on the uptake of new technologies to build tomorrow’s European air traffic control infrastructure. It cannot be done at any cost, however. The deployment of new technical solutions must be based on proper cost-benefit analysis and an appropriate concept of operations. Further work is required to build the future Communication- Navigation- Surveillance systems and EBAA is part of it.