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SURF IA approaches launch capability

25 March 2019
SURF IA flight testing aboard a Honeywell test aircraft. Source: Honeywell

Honeywell Aerospace plans to bring a new product to market as it continues its efforts to enhance runway surface safety.

The US avionics manufacturer initially developed the Enhanced Ground Proximity Warning System (EGPWS), which uses aircraft inputs and a comprehensive database of terrain, man-made obstacles and runways to provide pilots with situational awareness and aural and visual alerts to avoid accidents. Honeywell later implemented SmartRunway as a simple software upgrade to EGPWS.

Its latest development is the Surface Indications and Alert (SURF IA) system, which has undergone extensive simulator testing and successfully completed prototype flight evaluations on company aircraft in late 2018. SURF IA is part of the Safer Airports and Flights for Europe (SAFE) safety nets project, which in turn is one of several SESAR 2020 industrial research initiatives.

Traditionally, pilots have relied entirely on their line of sight and instructions from tower controllers to avoid collisions with other aircraft on busy runways. Developed by Honeywell with partners Airbus, Dassault, and Eurocontrol, the software-based SURF IA gives pilots visual and audible warnings about infringing aircraft.

SURF IA collects position and speed data about surrounding aircraft. The new Honeywell solution, through software-based data analysis and specialised algorithms, analyses the aircraft position data and calculates other factors to provide early warning alerts to pilots. Threatening colour-coded aircraft appear on the moving map or primary flight display in the cockpit. The pilot also receives a text message showing time to collision and an audio alert.

George Papageorgiou, Honeywell’s director of advanced technology, said, “This is primarily a software development; a software upgrade, if you will. That makes it appealing.”

The solution requires minimal changes to existing avionics and uses Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast Out (ADS-B Out), a globally mandated technology upgrade due by 2020, for quick and simple installation.

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