French Gliding Federation bases SAR strategy on FLARM

In a meeting organized by FFVV (French Gliding Federation), the benefits of FLARM in locating missing aircraft were discussed. A presentation was given about how locating aircraft with FLARM can enable fast and efficient SAR response. The presentation was held by FFVV’s representatives Gilles Hug (Commission Formation-Sécurité) and Christophe Luquet (Comité Directeur) to those responsible for Rescue Coordination Centre (RCC) Aix-en-Provence. This RCC overlooks the whole French Alpine sector, and is part of the French Civil Aviation Authority’s “Centre en route de la navigation aérienne – Sud-Est” (DGAC / CRNA-SE).

In the meeting, the quick and precise location services provided by FLARM were explained in detail based on the SAR activities for HB-3393 (May 2012) and F-CLCC (March 2015). In both cases, FLARM provided the best location, in whose vicinity the aircraft was found. In the latter case, the pilot was found alive.

As part of FFVV’s safety goals of drastically reducing fatal gliding accidents in the next four years, FFVV will further train its members about the FLARM-based SAR process and related preparations. FFVV has decided to sponsor a countrywide infrastructure for receiving FLARM transmissions (link in French). This leverages the countrywide FLARM mandate in effect since 2013. According to the presented statistics, the number of mid-air collisions in France has been notably reduced since the introduction of FLARM.

Read about the SAR process here.

FLARM wins aerokurier Innovation Award

In mid-April, FLARM Technology participated in the large General Aviation trade show AERO 2015 in Friedrichshafen. During the show, FLARM was awarded the prestigious aerokurier Innovation Award in the Avionics category. The award was given to FLARM for the development of PowerFLARM, which substantially increases the range of FLARM signals. In addition, PowerFLARM makes it possible to receive other ADS-B and Mode-C/S transponder equipped aircraft.

The award ceremony is covered on aerokurier’s website.

More information about PowerFLARM is available here.

Omega tau podcasts about FLARM

Omega tau, the leading podcast producer for scientific and engineering content, has published two podcasts about FLARM:

Collision Avoidance with FLARM

An interview with Gerhard Wesp, Development Manager Avionics about FLARM. The talk covers the history of the FLARM system as well as newer developments such as the PowerFLARM. Mostly, however, the talk is about how FLARM works and how PowerFLARM integrates with Transponders and ADS-B systems.

Empirical research on FLARM displays (in German)

The FLARM collision avoidance system is today the de facto standard for collision avoidance in gliders and to an increasing extent also in General Aviation. In this episode Christoph Santel, Darmstadt University of Technology, is interviewed about his research on the effectiveness on different FLARM displays.

FLARM Firmware Update

Scheduled and mandatory firmware update to all FLARM and PowerFLARM devices has been released

The scheduled and mandatory firmware update (version 6) has been released. The update is required for all FLARM-compatible designs. This includes classic FLARM, PowerFLARM and FLARM manufactured by LXNAV, LX Navigation, Garrecht/Butterfly/AIR Avionics, Triadis, Ediatec, Flytec/Bräuniger, OzFlarm and others. All devices must be updated before the next flight!

The update is available now on http://flarm.com/support/firmware-updates/ at no cost. We also recommend an update to the obstacle database as data changes frequently.

If the update is not applied, the device will stop to operate after March 31, 2015 and display an error code or message.

Because of the improvements in this update, like Tracking Privacy, Stealth Mode, Frequency use, and Alert Zones (skydiver drop zones, RPAS zones, etc.), this has to be a mandatory update. More information about these and other changes is available in the Release Notes, which are published in connection with the firmware update.

Because of improvements to the radio protocol, the new firmware is not compatible with previous versions. This means that FLARM, PowerFLARM and 3rd party devices with version 6 will not see and/or issue collision warnings about non-updated devices, and vice versa. This is however only an issue until April 1, 2015, when any remaining not updated devices will cease to operate anyway. To ensure that all devices can communicate with each other until April 1, it’s essential that they are updated with the new firmware version 6 before the next flight.

Due to technical limitations of some first-generation products introduced a decade ago and still being used, we could not provide an automatic switchover as in previous updates. We will however make some changes to the firmware, so future major updates will be seamless, as part of the new update process.

New update process

Previously, updates were required every 1-4 years according to an announced schedule. This was however challenging for some aircraft owners and maintenance organizations, since there was only a short time span in which the update could be made.

In the future, every FLARM device needs to be updated with the latest firmware version at least once per year (rolling 365 days). For devices installed in aircraft, this has to be part of the Aircraft Maintenance Program (AMP). The entry in the AMP is to be made during installation. If you have a FLARM installation that is not previously monitored by the AMP, an entry should be made as soon as possible.

You will now have much more flexibility with regards to when in the year the device is updated. This also means however that you may not be reminded of any updates in the future.

More information about the new update process is available on www.flarm.com under Support / Firmware updates.

Obstacle Database

Outdated obstacle database versions (OBS files) are obsolete and will no longer work. When the device is restarted after the firmware update, it will issue Error code B1 (see manual) if the old obstacle file is still in the device. The current Obstacle database and functionality extension licenses can be purchased from shop.flarm.com.

FLARM Technology processes obstacle updates from various sources monthly and recommends frequent updating of the database in the device.