Standards Oversight Committee Acts on Safety and Emerging Technologies

October 1, 2018

RTCA’s Program Management Committee (PMC) held its fall meeting approving four critical guidance documents addressing aircraft collision avoidance, DataComm and advanced vision technologies that assist pilots.

The standards approved cover the following areas:

•             Performance standards for new Airborne Collision Avoidance System designed to improve air safety, as a method of preventing mid-air collisions or near mid-air collisions. This new Minimum Operational Performance Standards for Airborne Collision Avoidance System X (ACAS X) (ACAS Xa and ACAS XO) standard goes beyond the current system and is designed for some of the reduced separation and traffic flows (including conventional aircraft and unmanned aircraft systems) envisioned by FAA NextGen and European SESAR initiatives.

•             Enhancements for Enhanced Flight Vision Systems (EFVS) that assist pilots with an electronic means to provide a display of the forward scene topography through imaging sensors and includes display element, sensors, computers and power supplies, indications, and controls. The document, Vision Systems for Takeoff, Safety, Performance and Interoperability Requirements Document Defining Takeoff Minima by Use of Enhanced Flight Vision Systems - provides operational, safety, performance and interoperability requirements to safely conduct takeoff operations using Enhanced Flight Vision Systems (EFVS) in natural visibilities, lower than currently authorized. 

•             Performance improvements in standards for the Data Communications (Data Comm) program that provides a direct link between ground automation and flight deck avionics for safety-of-flight clearances, instructions, traffic flow management, flight crew requests and reports.  These new improvements allow messages to be transmitted without establishing a link first – all ground stations that receive the message transmit towards destination.

  • Minimum Operational Performance Standards (MOPS), MOPS for Aircraft Very High Frequency (VHF) Digital Link (VDL) Mode 2 Physical Link and Network Layer – defines processes and test procedures for Air/Ground (A/G) data communications systems for voice and text.
  • Communications Minimum Aviation Systems Performance Standard (MASPS), Signal-in-Space for MASAP Advanced VHF Digital Data Communications Including Compatibility with Digital Voice Technique – defines requirements for principles of operation of digital data communication systems with the current analog voice system and proposed future VDL systems that will include two different modes of operation – one for carrier sense multiple access for data and one for simultaneous voice and data capability.

Chaired by Chris Hegarty, of The MITRE Corporation, the PMC is the RTCA oversight body charged with producing timely and robust standards and guidance documents to ensure interoperability of aviation systems and equipment. The standards encourage innovation and serve as the basis for meeting Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) regulations. An important responsibility of the PMC is ensuring the operational application of the technical standards.

The Committee reviewed workplans for the 18 Special Committees (SC), and approved leadership changes for two committees:

  • New Government Authorized Representative for SC-222 - Aeronautical Mobile-Satellite (R) Service
  • New Chairman for SC-236 - Standards for Wireless Avionics Intra-Communication System (WAIC) within 4300-4400 MHz

Details from the September 20, 2018 PMC meeting are contained in a letter from Chairman Hegarty to FAA Associate Administrator for Aviation Safety, Ali Bahrami