Honeywell by the Letters - TCAS

July 6, 2016 | Author: Carrie Fan


This seemingly simple group of four letters can get really confusing…but only if you let it.

Basically, TCAS (pronounced TEE-kas) stands for Traffic Alert and Collision Avoidance System in the official Honeywell style guide but you may also see it used as Traffic Collision Avoidance System. To further add to the confusion there's the acronym ACAS for "airborne collision avoidance system," but we'll stick to regular old TCAS here, or rather TCAS II, indicating the more current implementation.

TCASIn its simplest formulation, TCAS is designed to prevent mid-air collisions by monitoring the airspace around an aircraft and warning pilots of the presence of other transponder-equipped aircraft. The great thing is that this all takes place independent of air traffic control so the system works anywhere over land or sea.

The key, however, is that both aircraft have to be equipped with a corresponding active transponder, an on-board device that produces a response when it receives a radio-frequency interrogation or "ping."

Although conceptual work on collision avoidance had been going on since the 1950s, the modern TCAS initiative grew out of a 1978 collision between a light aircraft and an airliner over San Diego. In 1986 the collision between an airliner and a light aircraft over Cerritos, California resulted in a U.S. Congressional mandate that required some categories of U.S. and foreign aircraft to be equipped with TCAS II for flight operations in U.S. airspace.

The collision between a Boeing 747 and an Ilyushin 76 near New Delhi, India in 1996 triggered the process of mandating the system known as ACAS in other parts of the world.

(If you're curious, here's a pretty good timeline history of airborne collision avoidance at the Eurocontrol website.)

There’s no question that TCAS has had a significant beneficial impact on aviation safety since initial government-mandated implementations began in the mid-1990s. And Honeywell has been at the forefront of the development of these systems since their inception.

Now, with air traffic expected to double in the next 20 years to over one billion flights, the need for enhanced situational awareness of the increasingly congested airspace is greater than ever. And Honeywell has responded by combining industry-leading technology, enhanced capability, and superior performance to mitigate the risk of a potential mid-air collision.

According to the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA), mid-air collision risk for the current implementation, known as "Change 7.0," corresponds to one mid-air collision every three years in European airspace.

As a result, further mandates have been enacted requiring Change 7.1 equipage for turbine-powered aircraft of certain weight and passenger classifications.

Honeywell has met the challenge with customer-focused solutions that not only meet the mandate requirements but provide a number of benefits ranging from fuel savings, greater situational awareness, fewer delays and expensive aircraft-on-ground (AOG) situations.

For more information, please check out the Honeywell TCAS website.

Carrie Fan

Carrie Fan

Carrie Fan is the Content Producer for Honeywell Aerospace. Previously, she worked for Honeywell Aerospace Asia Pacific as the Digital Media Manager.

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