Steve Cooper (Barton FISO) gave a presentation at the CAA ‘Share The Air Conference’ at Royal Aeronautical Society, London on 27th June 2019.
The subject of his presentation was the Airspace4All GA Airfield ATS ADS-B Traffic Display Trial
Below are the slides from his presentation, including his speaker notes.

During the last year I, and the Air Traffic Team at Manchester Barton have been working with Airspace4All to deliver the ‘GA Airfield ATS ADS-B Traffic Display Trial’ – This is designed to measure the benefits of Electronic Conspicuity in the General Aviation Air Traffic Environment as an aid to situational awareness.

The aim of the trial is to “To gather evidence on the capability of ADS-B Traffic Displays to allow the CAA to assess this capability and give consideration to policy change authorising use of ADS-B real-time traffic displays by GA ATS units”. As many of you may be aware, until now Aerodrome FISOs have been limited to use of looking out of the window, use of strip boards and radio as their means of keeping track of aircraft . With the support and agreement of the CAA we are looking at the art of the possible and helping drive Electronic Conspicuity in the GA environment.

Whilst Barton was the first to go live on the trial on 1st March following development and agreement by ATS Standards of the Safety Case and staff training; there are two other airfields also now on board – Goodwood and North Weald. I will explain in my next slide the set up, however the basics are simple – Airspace4All have purchased the ADS-B equipment from uAvionix for loan to both the airfields and aircraft – The staff based in the tower provide the service making use of an electronic display showing the position of ADSB-Out equipped aircraft as an aid to situational awareness – we don’t control – and we feedback our experiences to Airspace4All who will report back to the CAA later this year.

The solution is simple – Aircraft transmit ADSB-Out using either via a permanently installation via their ModeS Extended Squitter, or via a portable device such as uAvionix SkyEcho1 or SkyEcho2 (Airspace4All have provided around 15 to each trial airfield). Each portable device costs only around £450 – Little more than some pilots spend on a Sunday morning flying out for a cooked breakfast !

Airspace4All have also provided a uAvionix PingStation aerial, mounted on the roofs of the control towers, to receive the ADSB transmissions – just one aerial is needed per unit. At a cost of around £1500 this is a fraction of the cost of a traditional radar. The data is then fed in to a simple Windows based PC with screen recording software installed for playback and analysis.

Why is Manchester Barton a good location to trial this technology ?

Variety of aircraft : Fixed Wing, Rotary, GA / Military
48,000 movements per year and increasing
Complex Airspace
Manchester / Liverpool CTRs
ATZ boundary with the Manchester CTR
Manchester Low Level Corridor
Restricted Area to East

NATS Infringement Prevention Award in 2014 proving our commitment to looking at new ways to mitigate the risks of Infringements.

It’s really important to appreciate that the use of the ADSB display is secondary to our primary toolset – The radio, stripboard and simply looking out of the window remain our primary tools .
The ADSB display is offset to the side of the desk, ,designed to be ‘glanced’ at by the FISO, rather than being something to be fixated on – Situational Awareness is the key phrase – Just as a pilot needs to be heads out, so do Air Traffic staff working in the visual environment.

So, what does the display actually look like – Let me try and bring this to life for you with an hours worth of traffic from a busy Saturday in June condensed in to just one minute (start video)

To the left of the screen you can see aircraft operating within 10 nautical mile of Barton – Including IFR commercial traffic landing and departing Manchester in the CTR just to the south of us. whilst to the right we’re focussed on traffic in the ATZ.

Each aircraft’s Registration, Type and Callsign is displayed as it moves around the display.

Remember that this is not reliant on the internet – the data is coming direct to the workstation from the aerial, the position of the aircraft are accurate to within one second.
This trial seeks to prove the benefits of this technology in this busy and complex environment.

So, almost four months in to the trail what have we found:

-As mentioned the costs are really low – Whilst we have had the Pingstation loaned the costs should be within the budget of licensed GA Aerodromes
-We found the deployment simple, with no need for specialist engineers
-The FISOs have found the display to be simple, intuitive and reliable – Any troubleshooting amounted at most to the reboot of the PC
-Training was provided, as determined by our agreed safety case, however adoption was swift with no negative comments and no sign that the FISOs are being distracted by the device, rather they report that their situational awareness is greatly enhanced, allowing ADSB equipped aircraft in the visual circuit and approaching the ATZ to be more easily identified
Several infringements of the Barton ATZ and Manchester CTR have been prevented by FISOs situational awareness using the display, allowing warnings to be passed
The device has assisted in at least one emergency where an aircraft with ADSB via its transponder disappearing from the display and radio, allowing the Air Traffic Team to realise it had suffered total electrical failure
We have found that some aircraft with portable devices ‘drop off’ the display when the device is shielded from line of sight to the aerial by the airframe or crew – this seems not to happen with permanently installed ADSB devices with external aerials.

Whilst not formally part of the project’s scope we have had some feedback from pilots :

They see the SkyEchos as being low cost, but would of course appreciate a cheaper price point, this may come with greater adoption,
The use of ADSB-In is of major interest to allow traffic on in cockpit apps such as SkyDemon
Pilots in the, often rainy, north west would welcome weather data, including rainfall radar, METARS and TAFs via ADSB-In as has been trialled in the south
Battery life, especially on Sky Echo 1 is a big issue in the Flying School environment where aircraft are being flown all day with little opportunity to recharge and no USB socket in older aircraft
The LEDs are hard to see on Sky Echo 1
Some pilots do not understand the difference between ADSB, PilotAware and FLARM, leading some pilots to believe they show on our display when they do not
– Restricted uptake of portable ADSB-Out devices due to CAP1391 restriction on dual use with ModeS – Removal of this would encourage greater uptake

The feedback of our team is important to the success of the trial – Since March staff have given feedback daily, and we’ve made changes as a result and to support future developments.

On the display we have added Visual Reference Point locations, added; added 10 nautical mile range ring to give an appreciation of scale.
Added trails to better emphasis aircraft track/ Added split screen providing focused ATZ view and reduces ‘clutter’ as demonstrated in the clip earlier
Filtered out overflying aircraft above 5500ft to further reduce ‘clutter’.

In the true spirit of ‘Share the air’ we’ve even added a ‘Quadcopter’ symbol to depict any ‘drones’ that may be operating in the area – more of that shortly !

So, what’s next – This project has gained a large amount of publicity, and we’re really pleased to have been invited to make use of the display in two future trials !

The first of these is ‘Project GAINS’ – General Aviation Improved Navigation and Surveillance, they are looking to conduct a flying session at Barton with a large number of GA aircraft all with ADSB-In and Out and will seek feedback on the effectiveness of in-cockpit devices and our own air traffic display when presented with many electronically conspicuous aircraft at once. (This event did not subsequently take place due to inclement weather.)

We have also been asked by Airspace4All & NATS to make use of the airfield and the display as part of their ‘Drone ADS-B Electronic Conspicuity in the GA Environment Project’ – This will see us working with The University of Manchester, and a commercial drone operator, EJS Aerial to test our and pilot’s ability to detect ADSB-Out devices mounted on drones and then to visually acquire them – a significant step in to integration of drones with manned aviation.

Before I take any questions, I thought I’d round off by just emphasising that, as I’m sure many here today will appreciate, the use of this type of display at GA airfields is very much a trial . There are several keys steps to allow the benefits to be fully realised – The next steps are:

Airspace4All report in to this trial will published Sep 2019.

CAA ADS-B Transceiver Simultaneous Transmission Trial – This is ongoing and many aircraft flying with SkyEchos and Mode S with the CAA’s approval as part of our project will have helped contribute to the outcome, enabling both is key to pilots being willing to purchase portable ADSB-Out units. (CAA have now announced that simultaneous use will be allowed, in Permit-to-Fly aircraft first and subsequently Certified aircraft.)

CAA Review of the Training, Qualification and Licensing of FISOs – This is again in progress – under the draft proposal surveillance data, such as the ADSB Display would not be permitted at AFIS airfields with no instrument approach – in my view the situational awareness is hugely beneficial, perhaps more so in the visual environment too.

CAA Electronic Conspicuity – Call For Evidence – At present the mix of ADSB, Pilot Aware and FLARM creates a mixed choice for aircraft owners, standardisation will promote device development by manufacturers with a lowering price point, driving the uptake of EC, allowing everyone to ‘Share the Air’ – Thank you !!