New Ground Safety Launched At Newark, Boston

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James E. Swickard james_swickard@aviationweek.com

Boston Logan International Airport will commission its new Airport Surface Detection Equipment-Model X (ASDE-X) tomorrow, replacing its last-generation ASDE-3. The new system provides controllers a host of new capabilities to monitor and control aircraft and vehicular traffic on the airport surface and provide a higher level protection against ground collisions or inadvertent runway incursions, even in areas that are out of direct sight of ground controllers in the control tower on in ground radar blind spots.

Newark Liberty International Airport in New Jersey brought its ASDE-X online last Wednesday, but the FAA held that announcement until this week.

ASDE-X fuses ground surveillance data from a number of sources to provide air traffic controllers with real-time, highly accurate position and location information of all aircraft and vehicles on the airport surface.

ASDE-X collects data from surface movement radar, aircraft and vehicle transponder multilateration to determine their precise location and fuse this information into a color display for controllers that maps all aircraft and vehicle surface traffic on the airport regardless of weather conditions or darkness.

The system, built by Sensis Corp., also features advanced conflict detection and alerting technology, dubbed Safety Logic, which uses complex algorithms to discern and alert controllers of potential aircraft or vehicle incursions on the runway. When a plane is approaching the airport to land, ASDE-X displays lines showing the runway edges. If another airplane or vehicle crosses those lines or moves toward them at a certain speed, an audible alarm sounds telling controllers to instruct the landing plane to go around, while a visual alert on the screen draws circles around the conflicting plane or vehicle and draws a line between them.

In addition to a view of the entire airfield, ASDE-X permits controllers to zoom in to get a closer view of what's happening in areas of interest. For example, if a multiple airplanes are waiting to depart, a controller can take a closer look at the departure end of the runway and the various taxiways or intersections from which an incursion could occur - an especially important feature in bad weather when visibility from the tower is hampered, or when investigating "blind spots" out of direct sight of the controller.

ASDE-X differentiates between aircraft sizes, displaying heavy aircraft as yellow icons and other planes in white, thereby facilitating proper departure spacing. ASDE-X also gives controllers the ability to mark taxiway closures and safety areas on the screen.

The new system is designed to integrate with future components of the NextGen System, such as ADS-B, which can be incorporated into the ASDE-X display.

ASDE-X photo credit: Sensis

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