The Airborne Separation Assistance System Spacing program – also known as Interval Management – provides information on surrounding air traffic to help pilots maintain a specified time between their aircraft and a particular aircraft ahead. Interval Management is seen as a critical component of SESAR, Europe’s Air Traffic Management (ATM) modernization program.
The test was carried out in a SESAR Joint Undertaking project under Airbus leadership, with participation from Thales, DSNA, and Honeywell.
“For the three trial approaches, we installed an Interval Management-configured Honeywell TPA-100 traffic computer on an Airbus A320 jetliner,” said Sander Roosendaal, Honeywell’s Advanced Technology Department Leader for Europe, the Middle East, Africa and India (EMEAI). “This aircraft then executed three approaches into Toulouse airport.”
During the test flights, controllers instructed the crew to maintain spacing of 180 seconds between their aircraft and the preceding aircraft. The traffic computer picked up Automatic Dependent Surveillance – Broadcast (ADS-B) signals from the preceding aircraft and relayed spacing data and other information to the A320 flight crew. Once the pilot acknowledged and accepted the spacing guidance, the Honeywell traffic computer took over, precisely maintaining the correct spacing throughout each approach.
When implemented as part of the integrated approach being defined by SESAR, Interval Management operations are expected to provide a wide range of operational benefits, such as increasing ATM capacity, enhancing safety, reducing flight crew and air traffic controller workload, and providing better flight crew awareness.
A global Honeywell team led from Honeywell Advanced Technology Europe in Brno, with members in Beijing; Brno, Czech Republic; Minneapolis; Toulouse, France; Olathe, Kan.; and Redmond, Wash., has been working on the Interval Management project for about two years, Roosendaal said.
“We’ve been involved in intense testing with Airbus and our other SESAR partners over the past several months. The success of this program shows what can be accomplished through teamwork.”
Honeywell was involved in another major SESAR milestone in early 2012 with the first live flight test of the initial four-dimensional (I-4D) flight operations concept in February. I-4D technology provides air traffic controllers with extremely precise time data that enables more precise air traffic control and more aircraft to fly safely and efficiently in the same airspace.