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Airbus developing ground collision alerting system

In 1977, Tenerife airport was the scene of a devastating ground collision between two 747 aircraft, the first one taking off and the other taxiing on the same runway. This remains the world’s deadliest aviation accident, claiming 583 lives.

The subsequent investigation found two main causes. The first was a misunderstanding between ATC and the flight crew of the aircraft that was taking off. The second was a lack of coordination between the flight crew members to ensure that the runway was cleared for take-off.

Based on these conclusions, the airline industry has gradually made improvements in three main areas:

• Clear communication between ATC and flight crews using standard phraseology.
• Effective Crew Resource Management (CRM) in the cockpit.
• Enhancement of flight crew awareness about traffic on the taxiway and runway.

The Tenerife accident is by no means unique, and industry has worked constantly to reduce ground collision risks over the intervening decades.

Now, Airbus says it is developing a new system to prevent runway collisions, with the installation of an onboard ‘SURFace Alerting’ system (SURF-A). The system is designed to further enhance flight crew awareness about traffic on ground with pertinent alerts. Using

Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast (ADS-B) technology, SURF-A continuously monitors surrounding traffic on the runway.

If a ground collision risk is detected while an aircraft is taking off, the system alerts the flight crew so they can take appropriate action. Similarly, if a collision risk is detected while an aircraft is on final approach, SURF-A warns the flight crew so they can perform a go-around.

Image accredited to Airbus

Author: FTN Editor

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