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Opening new transport routes from regional airports

Opening new transport routes from regional airports

Background

The European ACARE (*) Flightpath 2050 paper sets a goal for a door-to-door journey time, for transport in Europe, of maximum 4 four hours. Today, when taking a regular commercial aircraft to a European destination easily takes already 1.5 hour from the car parking lot to aircraft boarding door. A, at regional airports this can be just 30 minutes.

In addition, regional airports are closer to the places where people live. They are, thus, an ideal place to depart from and land at, saving again time and environmental impact. Europe has 1270 airports and 1300 airfields Yet, big airports are capacity bottlenecks, while regional airports and airfields have still lots of unused spare capacity.

Smaller aircraft are the ideal transport mode for operations from regional airports and airfields. Thus, If if we thus can equip those smaller aircraft with technology that allows them to operate in all weather conditions, and depart from, and land at not not-so so-well equipped airports in adverse weather, then we would open a whole new transport sector. Due to its reduced travel times and travel overheads, and due to its flexibility, this transport sector will be the best choice for many demanding travelers and cargo handlers.

Honeywell wanted to help shape the future, and thus brought together partners and set up a project that developed the needed technology for that new market sector.

COAST project

The COAST project (part of the Clean Sky 2 EU R&D program) is addressing exactly this challenge, and opening this untapped air transport capacity, by bringing innovations to this market that will lower the cost of operations, further increase safety and bring SESAR-compatible solutions. The COAST project results will enable business growth in the Small Aircraft market and therewith strengthen the European competitive position in the global market.

The COAST consortium consists of four respected and established EU partners: Honeywell CZ (leader), Centro Italiano Ricerche Aerospaziali S.c.p.a. (CIRA), Łukasiewicz – Institute of Aviation (ILOT) and Rzeszów University of Technology (PRz).

The project started in 2016 and after more than 4 four years, the first batch of innovative technologies was initially flight demonstrated on EV-55 aircraft in June 2021. The batch included the following technologies:

  • Compact Computing Platform (CCP) - a scalable, reusable, and reliable platform for advanced cockpit functions, and affordable for the CS-23. It features compact HW design, innovated SW architecture,  and enabling simple customization for different aircraft platforms. The key technology elements are parallel distributed computing, virtualization of I/O logic, design and analysis tooling and on-board connectivity.
  • Integrated Surveillance System (SURV) - an affordable surveillance system for the SAT segment addressing operational needs of the future low low-altitude operations (GA, rotorcrafts) including detection of non-cooperative threats. The system addresses interaction with new types of airspace users such as drones or Urban Air Mobility (UAM). The system provides advanced support to pilot in situations where visual separation can be difficult, e.g., due to the small size of the threat (drone). The system benefits from the technological elements developed for Unmanned Uncrewed Aerial Vehicles (UAV) / Remote Piloted Air Systems (RPAS) market (e.g., Detect and Avoid, ACAS(s) Xu,), and explores needed modifications for small aircraft operations/pilots.
  • Tactical Separation System (TSS) - ADS-B-based advanced self-separation system extending traffic situational awareness and supporting the single pilot in the decision-making process. The system provides the pilot with suggested maneuvers aimed to maintain the required separation minimal. The focus applies to affordable systems without requiring minimum aircraft coordination. Strong emphasis is given placed on supporting the SESAR concept of delegation of the separation responsibility to the flight segment, so representing an enabling technology for SAT operation in future SESAR ATC/ATM environments, while maintaining compatibility with the current and emerging ATR standards and Rules of the Air, therefore assuring compatibility with surrounding traffic as well as implement general aviation collision avoidance rules self-compatibility.
  • Advanced Weather Awareness System (AWAS) - provides complete awareness of the weather situation with (both observed and forecasted) information assisting the pilot in avoiding entry into atmospherically dangerous areas. The system consists of the onboard application, graphical human-machine interface, ground element, and integrated Satcom.  The ground element is based on the MATISSE (Meteorological AviaTIon Supporting SystEm) platform capable to consolidate weather information from different data sources (as satellite, radar in situ data and numerical weather forecasts). The system performs short-term forecasts. The weather information is available on board periodically. on-demand, periodically or based on rapidly emerging adverse weather.
  • Flight Reconfiguration System (FRS) - emergency flight path management system in case of pilot’s incapacitation. The FRS cooperates with related avionic systems, such as navigation systems, flight controls, airport database, data link, and additional sensors. The system does not require equipage by the FMS; however, it enables integration with the FMS if one is installed. In the future, the system may incorporate further advisory functions.

Those technologies have been developed and demonstrated in this European Clean Sky 2 project. They are now being further matured and will be ready for market deployment in the coming years. Watch our demonstration activities and a bit more on this project in this new video [link to YouTube].

(*) ACARE : Advisory Council for Aviation Research and innovation in Europe.

Tomas Kabrt
Program Manager - Advanced Technology

Tomas Kabrt is Program Manager working in the Advanced Technology department within Honeywell Aerospace in Europe. In his current role, Tomas is responsible for the portfolio of R&D projects in the areas of electro-mechanical actuation and avionics executed under EU and CZ research programs. Before that, Tomas worked in Honeywell in multiple positions as System Engineer, Technical Supervisor and Project Manager with a focus on Surveillance systems. Tomas is based in Prague, Czechia.

Prior to joining Honeywell in 2007, Tomas worked in Aero Vodochody as an Avionics System Engineer with responsibilities that included the integration and certification of avionics into General Aviation (GA) aircraft.

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