10’000. PowerFLARM verkauft


Steve Halliwell (links im Bild) erhält das 10’000. PowerFLARM Zertifikat von Mike Pettican, LX Avionics (rechts im Bild) vor Steve’s MD 500 Hubschrauber, in welchem das PowerFLARM-System installiert wurde.

Heute können wir stolz verkünden, dass wir das 10’000. PowerFLARM-System an einen britischen Kunden geliefert haben. Seit der Erfindung im Jahr 2004 wurden fast 40’000 FLARM-Systeme in allen Arten von bemannten Flugzeugen und Hubschraubern eingebaut. PowerFLARM wurde entwickelt, um den Anforderungen von motorisierten Flugzeugen und Hubschraubern gerecht zu werden. Mit dreifacher Reichweite, Antennendiversität, besserem Interferenzschutz, ADS-B/Transponderempfänger und besseren und intuitiveren Hinderniswarnungen kann PowerFLARM vor drohenden Kollisionen mit allen Flugzeugen und Hindernistypen warnen.

Der 10’000. PowerFLARM-Kunde ist Steve Halliwell aus Manchester. Er installierte das PowerFLARM-System in seinem Hubschrauber Hughes MD 500, um andere Leichtflugzeuge und Hindernisse umgehen zu können. Als er einmal mit seinem Hubschrauber in einem gebirgigen Gebiet flog, war er nur knapp 100 Fuß davon entfernt, mit einem anderen Flugzeug frontal zusammenzustossen. Wenn das nächste Mal etwas Ähnliches passiert, kann ihn das PowerFLARM unterstützen, eine Kollision frühzeitig zu vermeiden.

Das PowerFLARM-System wurde von LX Avionics am Turweston Flugplatz (EGBT) verkauft.

FLARM receives UK BGA Safety Award

Mid-air collisions have killed a number of UK glider pilots since 1975. In 2004, three Swiss pilots applied their engineering expertise to design a system that would alert pilots about an imminent collision and give an indication of the direction in which the threat lay. Today, much of the active UK glider fleet carries the FLARM system that they invented; in the UK we have had no glider-glider collisions since 2014 – the first time that there have been four such years in a row; and there has only ever been one collision between FLARM-equipped gliders.

Having invented the FLARM system and designed the first devices, Urs Rothacher, Andrea Schlapbach and Urban Mäder continued to develop the system to improve its performance, adapt its behaviour for competitions, add functionality to measure antenna performance and find lost gliders and to build in an obstacle database. New versions allowed multiple antennas for better coverage and detection of powered aircraft equipped with transponders or ADS-B. FLARM’s complex path-prediction algorithms mean that it remains the only collision-alerting system that is effective in the close manoeuvring situations such as thermals in which gliders spend so much time.

For devising, manufacturing, sustaining and continuing to develop this exceptional safety system, which has helped prevent collisions and save glider pilots’ lives across Europe, Urs, Andrea and Urban are deserving recipients of the BGA’s Bill Scull Safety Award.

The award will be presented at the BGA conference on 2nd March 2019.

GPS Week Rollover

The US DoD GPS system provides essential positioning and timing information to many applications in daily use and aviation including FLARM. As part of the GPS design, the time is encoded in a format which restarts at zero every 1024 weeks (or merely 20 years), next time in the evening of April 6, 2019.

This is currently widely discussed on the aviation community, EASA today has published a Safety Information Bulletin.

The manufacturer of the GPS receiver modules used in all of your end-user products has confirmed to us already in May 2018 that these „modules have been tested and can handle the year 2019 GPS week number rollover without issue“.

 

Neue 2019er Hindernisdaten verfügbar

Vor zwei Jahren haben wir stark verbesserte Algorithmen für PowerFLARM-Geräte vorgestellt, um Warnungen vor Hindernissen wie Seilbahnen, Antennen und Windkraftanlagen zu optimieren. In den letzten Monaten haben wir nun intensiv daran gearbeitet, sowohl die regionale Abdeckung, die Anzahl der Hindernisse, den Detaillierungsgrad als auch die Genauigkeit weiter zu steigern. Diese Verbesserungen sind für alle FLARM-Geräte verfügbar, um Ihnen den bestmöglichen Schutz zu bieten.

Neu bieten wir nun hochauflösende Datenbanken für die folgenden Regionen an: Österreich & Slowenien, Frankreich, Deutschland, Nordwestitalien, Nordostitalien, Schweiz und Großbritannien & Irland. Diese Datenbanken bieten den maximalen Detaillierungsgrad, wie er von regionalen, tief- und schlechtwetterfliegenden Betreibern bevorzugt wird, z.B. für Hubschrauber und HEMS/MEDEVAC. Dies ist auch die beste Wahl für Freizeitpiloten und Flugschulen, die nur regional fliegen.

Eine aktualisierte Datenbank der Europäischen Alpen ist ebenfalls verfügbar, sie deckt den gesamten Alpenraum ab. Sie wurde aufgrund von Feedback unserer Kunden wie folgt optimiert: Eine große Anzahl kritischer Kabel in den Alpen wurde aus neuen Datenquellen hinzugefügt. Um das gestiegene Datenvolumen auszugleichen, wurden Vertikalantennen, Türme, Windkraftanlagen und Stromleitungen (mit einigen regionalen Ausnahmen) entfernt; solche Objekte sind typischerweise gut sichtbar und stellen normalerweise keine Gefahr für Flugzeuge dar. In dieser Datenbank wurden zudem Stromleitungen in der Nähe von Flugplätzen weggelassen, um als unnötig empfundene Warnungen beim An- und Abflug zu vermeiden; eine Forderung, die regelmäßig von Flugschulen gestellt wird.

Alle Datenbanken sind in unserem Webshop verfügbar und kosten je EUR 35 (ggf. zuzüglich Mehrwertsteuer). Auf Anfrage bieten wir auch regelmäßige (z.B. monatliche/AIRAC) Großflotten-Updates für verschiedene Regionen an; kontaktieren Sie uns für Konditionen und Preise. Alle Datenbanken sollten mindestens einmal jährlich erneuert werden und laufen nach dem 31. Januar 2020 aus.

Es kann jeweils nur eine Datenbank im Gerät gespeichert werden. Der Wechsel zwischen den Datenbanken ist über SD-Karte oder USB-Stick möglich, wird aber im Flug nicht empfohlen. Es darf nur eine Hindernisdatei auf der SD-Karte oder dem USB-Stick für die Installation während des Aufstartvorgangs des Geräts vorhanden sein. Der Installationsprozess kann Flugwegaufzeichnungen löschen, daher empfehlen wir, diese vor der Installation einer neuen Datenbank zu speichern. Spezifische Anweisungen finden Sie im jeweiligen Gerätehandbuch.

In Zukunft werden wir je nach Kundenbedürfnis auch Benelux, Skandinavien, Spanien & Portugal sowie ausgewählte Regionen Osteuropas und Nordamerikas abdecken.

Fully-automated long-range UAV flights

Nice examples of two recent long-range UAV flights across Switzerland using FLARM as the only onboard technology to stay clear of other traffic.

The two independent project – one form ETH Zurich, one from a Locarno-based company – both target a fully autonomous beyond-line-of-sight fixed-wing drone flight in uncontrolled airspace using our FLARM UAV design to detect and avoid manned traffic, to be detectable by manned traffic and to be tracked by professional ground tracking services. FLARM was the only onboard traffic technology, neither ADS-B nor transponders were used.

The Oblivion Aerial project flew in December 2018 over a distance of nearly 100km, crossing the Swiss Alps. For legal reasons, the entire flight was accompanied by a manned aircraft capable of remote controlling the UAV in case required; no approval for the flight was required. Watch the video here.

The ETH Zurich project flew early January 2019, crossed the Lake of Neuchâtel at around 350ft above ground, lasted for a bit more than one hour, ended as planned on a normal airport and had an overall length of about 70km. The flight was unaccompanied. No specific danger zone was established. The flight and operations were approved by the Swiss CAA FOCA according to JARUS SORA standard procedures. Watch an interview here.

Swisscom Tests Smart Airspace Management for Drones Based on their LTE Network and FLARM

For the drone revolution to happen, applications first need to scale to be profitable, requiring a high level of automation. The largest obstacle for automation is the management of airspace: Allowing all manned and unmanned participant fair, efficient and safe access to airspace while maximizing capacity at low cost.

Traditional Air Traffic Control (ATC) struggles to provide this, with many of their processes being controlled by human operators. Clearly, new concepts are needed to achieve the scalability and automation that we need.

During the annual Innovation Week in summer 2018, Swisscom demonstrated a proof of concept that addresses the need for improving flight awareness in the lower airspace. The focus was on interoperability between legacy and new aircraft communication technologies. By aggregating multiple methods of connectivity, a much more detailed coverage of the airspace can be achieved. This concept can be seen as a supplement to the U-Space project recently announced by Skyguide, Switzerland’s Air Navigation Service Provider (ANSP).

The following systems were incorporated into the solution:

  • FLARM, the leading traffic awareness and collision avoidance technology for General Aviation, light aircraft and UAVs. Over 35,000 manned aircraft and many UAVs are already equipped with FLARM and the number is rapidly increasing. The new FLARM eID standard was developed specifically for the needs of commercial UAV operators, allowing secure tracking and identification of UAVs.
  • ADS-B, a system used by large commercial airliners to make aircraft visible to ATC with high accuracy.
  • Swisscom’s LTE cellular network for connecting UAVs to U-Space and other infrastructure services, like ground receiver networks for FLARM and ADS-B.

Combining these data sources, a more complete picture of the airspace can be obtained and presented to the drone operator and U-Space service providers. The solution was successfully demonstrated to remotely detect a conflict provoked by an intruding aircraft, leading to automatic evasive action by the drone.

For more details, contact Manuel.Haag@swisscom.com or andrea.schlapbach@flarm.com.

Learning Series: Basel Flight School


Pierre Troendle (left) and Thomas Wittwer (right) preparing for the proficiency check.

Basel Flight School is located at the tripoint between Germany, Switzerland and France, at Basel international airport. The school was founded in 1967 and was one of the first flight schools to equip its fleet with a FLARM collision avoidance system. All aircraft, a variety of Piper and Tecnam training airplanes, were equipped almost 10 years ago – except for one. For a variety of reasons, the oldest airplane, an almost 40 years old Piper Turbo Arrow, was not equipped. Regrettably, this exact airplane was involved in a mid-air collision in January 2018. It collided over southern Germany with an EC-135 helicopter from the German air ambulance operator DRF Luftrettung. The instructor and student in the Piper as well as the crew in the helicopter died in the crash.

The EC-135 helicopter, like many helicopters in Germany, was equipped with FLARM. That did unfortunately not help in this case, since this Piper did not have FLARM, as mentioned above. Would it also have been equipped, it would almost certainly have avoided the disaster. Thomas Wittwer, Chief Flying Instructor at Basel Flight School, says that today he makes sure that all aircraft that he flies have an operating FLARM system. We met Thomas at the flight school during a rainy morning in March, while preparing a proficiency check with his student Pierre Troendle in his own Partenavia P.68 twin.

Thomas, why did you install FLARM in your aircraft fleet?

I have been flying many different aircraft types for over 30 years and have over 12.000 flight hours, most of which as an instructor. During my carrier, I have had three serious airprox incidents. The closest was around five years ago when I was flying an airplane in Germany that didn’t have FLARM. Close to a glider site, coming from nowhere, a glider crossed just in front of us at the same altitude. He passed from right to left and obviously didn’t see us either. We passed just a few meters behind him.

The second time, we were descending while another airplane was below us and descending as well. We were both flying the same track. We could not see him since he was below us. We were descending faster, and we noticed him just before crossing his altitude not many seconds behind him.

The third time was in a military training aircraft. Suddenly, the student says to me: “Look, the sky is on fire”. It took a few seconds until I realized that two Tornado fighter jets were coming straight at us at high speed. I quickly banked the aircraft to increase the chance that they see us, which they did about 2 seconds before impact. Both started turning and one passed to our left and one to our right.

I think I have had enough luck not to want to risk anything like this again. Since I started using FLARM, I haven’t had any similar incidents.

What has been your experience using FLARM?

It has saved me four times, where I didn’t see the other aircraft before I got the FLARM collision warning. I never fly without FLARM anymore. For example for today’s flight, Pierre doesn’t yet have FLARM installed in his aircraft, so I’m bringing the PowerFLARM Portable with me. Pierre has been interested in installing FLARM for a while, so this is also a great opportunity for him to try it out.


Pierre Troendle setting up the PowerFLARM Portable for the flight.

What do your students and instructors say about FLARM?

If you ask any instructor with a few years in the business, they have all had at least one serious airprox. The problem is that we generally don’t talk about these incidents. That’s of course not good from a safety perspective. Most instructors that I know love FLARM once they have used it.

And many students are shocked by the number of aircraft out there that cannot be seen otherwise. Many are not in contact with ATS so there is no way of being alerted of an impending collision without a collision avoidance system. Luckily, most aircraft in Switzerland and Germany carry FLARM. For other aircraft, PowerFLARM, which we now have, can also receive and warn about transponder and ADS-B Out equipped aircraft.

Are there any challenges using FLARM?

I think the most important one is training. Airline pilots receive both theoretical and simulator training about TCAS. Many GA pilots however have no FLARM training. The system just sits there. First, it’s important to realize that it’s a collision avoidance system and not a map you should constantly be looking at. Second, you need a strategy what to do when you get a collision warning. You should first try to visually acquire the other aircraft. But many people don’t realize that if you cannot see the other aircraft, you still have to do something! The risk is otherwise high that you will collide. From this perspective, I like the LED FLARM displays, because they focus on the collision warnings and don’t steal instrument time.

Another thing is to ensure that the antenna installation is done properly. FLARM uses low power to reduce frequency congestion, and thus doesn’t suffer from the same problems as the 1090 MHz frequency. However, this also makes the antenna installation important. We currently use the internal antennas and have sufficient range in most directions. Some of the aircraft however have limited range is some directions, so we will soon start installing the external AV-75 antennas on the aircraft.

What do you recommend as a resolution when receiving a collision warning?

Either make a 90 degree turn (left or right) or change altitude, based on the circumstances. And realize that you have to act immediately. When you receive the first collision warning, you have no more than 18 seconds to the collision, minus the time you spend looking for the aircraft.

Are there any disadvantages with FLARM?

The only one I can think of is that not all aircraft have FLARM. It should be mandatory for all light aircraft. Many more lives could be saved if everyone had FLARM. We are halfway there in Europe and even more so in Switzerland. But the last percentile is always the most difficult.

Why do you think FLARM has become so prominent in the last years?

First, there are more aircraft today than a few years ago. But what I think is even more important is that airspace has become much more complex, so VFR pilots have to rely on moving map systems to a greater extent. Nobody wants an airspace infringement and subsequent fine. This leads to pilots looking down instead of out the window. This of course increases the risk of a mid-air collision.

What would you say to other flight schools and flying clubs that don’t yet have FLARM?

What are you waiting for? FLARM is proven to have saved many lives. The system is not expensive. There is simply no excuse today not to have FLARM. And make sure that all students and members receive some basic FLARM training, so they know what to do when they receive a collision warning. Your club members and students will thank you.

Thank you very much for the chat. And have a nice flight!

Thank you, I’m sure we will.

Garmin TIS and Audio Out feature licenses to be removed

The FLARM ecosystem has developed with unprecedented speed in the last few years. Not only have thousands of new FLARM installations been done in GA airplanes and helicopters, but several new PowerFLARM-based OEM FLARM devices have been released by various manufacturers. This has given us lots of knowledge about how the different products are used. In addition, different devices target different target groups (e.g. aircraft types). In these respects, we are continually evaluating our product offerings.

Based on this evaluation, we have decided to remove the Garmin TIS and Audio Out (AUD) feature licenses from our webshop. Both licenses have seen a rather low number of purchases and have come with some technical challenges.

The Garmin TIS functionality has generated an elevated number of support requests regarding compatibility with various 3rd party displays. It is also limited as it allows for a maximum of 8 intruders to be displayed concurrently, and many aspects of a full FLARM display are simply ignored (e.g. error states). Unfortunately, these limitations were not easy to understand by customers and installers.

The Audio Out license has seen a decline in sales when this functionality has been replaced by similar functionality in displays and integrated FLARM systems. In addition, due to upcoming certification requirements for FLARM in rotorcraft, audio warnings need to be more closely integrated with the specific aircraft systems and configuration, which is not possible with the current audio out implementation.

The Garmin TIS and Audio Out licenses will be removed from the webshop end of 2018. Purchases of these licenses will continue to be unrestricted until that time. Licenses that have once been purchased will continue to be functional without restriction. Devices purchased in 2018 or earlier will continue to remain eligible for the licenses. Please contact us in such cases.

These changes will have limited effect but will help us focus on the functions and features that have a high value for the users.

FLARM and uAvionix Collaborate to Create Electronic Conspicuity Solutions for Manned and Unmanned Aircraft

FLARM Technology and uAvionix today announced a partnership to collaborate on Electronic Conspicuity (EC) and Detect and Avoid (DAA) solutions for manned and unmanned aircraft. uAvionix specializes in ADS-B, Secondary Surveillance Radar (SSR) transponders, and GNSS position sources for manned and unmanned aircraft. FLARM specializes in situational awareness and active DAA solutions for General Aviation and unmanned aircraft. Both companies offer products for installation and portable use together with modern display systems such as Electronic Flight Bag (EFB) applications.

The companies plan to incorporate their respective technologies into one another’s products and to develop and sell interoperable solutions for these markets across the world. The companies also plan to collaborate on UAS remote identification standards and solutions. FLARM’s Open eID Standard, the first electronic identification standard published globally, is being trialled in Europe for DAA and remote identification purposes, a key enabler for UTM frameworks like U-Space. uAvionix’ DroneAware system is being tested as a component of the NASA UTM TCL3 demonstrations as well as three of the UAS Integration Pilot Programs in the US.

“As the airspace becomes more and more crowded, it is increasingly important to integrate existing electronic conspicuity solutions into interoperable platforms. ADS-B and FLARM are the two dominating GNSS-based solutions in use today” said Christian Ramsey, President uAvionix.

“Combining Detect and Avoid and remote ID solutions for both manned and unmanned traffic will enable the safe and efficient integration of all traffic in the same airspace and keep the responsibility where it should be: with the pilot,” said Daniel Hoffmann, General Manager FLARM Technology.