CAA – electronic identification of light aircraft – turning ‘see and avoid’ into ‘see, be seen and avoid’

A small airplane in front of a rayblowed sky

On 23 March 2016 the UK Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) announced a new easy process to enable electronic identification of light aircraft aimed at making General Aviation (GA) flying safer, allowing pilots to make their aircraft more visible to other airspace users and encouraging pilots to voluntarily adopt technology.

Proposals for how GA aircraft and airspace users in uncontrolled UK airspace can use low cost and low power electronic devices, known as electronic conspicuity, to be more visible to each other have been released by the CAA.

The proposals, contained in CAP 1391 Electronic Conspicuity have been developed in conjunction with the GA community. The document sets out the benefits of using devices to enhance the visibility of aircraft and explains how these devices can be carried and used in flight to aid a pilot’s visual scanning by alerting other aircraft, carrying compatible devices, of their proximity.

The CAA believes that any move to make aircraft more visible is an aid to safety. In the UK there are no requirements for light aircraft flying outside controlled airspace to carry any form of electronic device, such as a transponder and there are no current plans to mandate such equipment in uncontrolled airspace.

The new plans set out an industry standard for equipment based on Automatic Dependant Surveillance-Broadcast (ADS-B) technology which is low cost and can be produced as light-weight and low power devices to take account of concerns that transponders may add too much additional weight and have unrealistic power requirements for certain aircraft.

This will turn the ‘see and avoid’ concept into ‘see, BE SEEN and avoid’ … We hope to see a reduction in the number of mid-air collisions and Airprox incidents.

Clair Muir CAA Manager of Safety Programmes

As part of the planned introduction of the proposal, the CAA are consulting with manufacturers on a new process that aims to remove regulatory barriers so making it easier for manufacturers to build a range of devices. Once the process is up and running, manufacturers will be required to make a declaration to the CAA that their device complies with the relevant approval so as to ensure that all EC devices with the declaration meet the standard set out. The administration charge for declaration has been waived for the first year of the scheme.

A list of current declarations will be published on the CAA website. It is then the responsibility of the aircraft operator to ensure that the device has a valid declaration and can be used on board.

The draft process is available at www.caa.co.uk/cap1391

The CAA is currently seeking views on this proposal via a survey which is open until 18 April 2016. Once the responses to this survey have been assessed the final process for submitting a declaration will be published on the CAA website.

Article authors: Gillie Belsham, Anna Anatolitou

 

 

 

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