Bermuda to Develop World’s Most Modern And Efficient Airspace With Boeing Digital Aviation

(3BL Media/Justmeans) - It has been over two weeks since Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 has disappeared from the skies. This lost plane has raised the disturbing question of how a modern aircraft packed with communications equipment can vanish without trace...till now as breaking news on 24 March suggests that the Boeing 777-200ER aircraft crashed into the Indian Ocean. There were 239 people on board who left Kuala Lumpur, bound for Beijing. The Boeing 777 disappeared from air traffic control screens when its transponder signal stopped. While Global Positioning System (GPS) is now part of modern life, the world's air traffic control network is still almost entirely radar-based; though aircraft use GPS to show pilots their position on a map, this data is not usually shared with air traffic control.

Some of the most modern aircraft are able to load GPS data to satellite tracking services. However, handling large volumes of flight data is expensive, and such systems are usually only used in remote areas with no radar coverage. Over the next decade, a new system called Automatic Dependent Surveillance Broadcast (ADS-B) is expected to replace radar as the primary surveillance method for air traffic control. It will see aircraft work out their position using GPS and then relay data to the ground and other planes, though with existing secondary radar, ADS-B coverage does not extend over the oceans.

In Bermuda, Boeing [NYSE: BA] and the Bermuda Department of Airport Operations (DAO) are collaborating to study the modernisation of airspace and air traffic management in the region. By teaming with Boeing Digital Aviation, Bermuda hopes to develop some of the most modern and efficient airspace in the world. It is the first step in Bermuda’s plan to potentially develop its own Flight Information Region, which will lead to increased operational efficiencies for airplanes within the airspace encompassing the island of Bermuda. The project will also work towards an increase in the country’s ability to handle arriving and departing traffic.

Everyone from the aircraft operators, passengers and the public at large will benefit from the efficiencies attained. The study also seeks to accelerate the already fast pace Bermuda has taken in modernising its air traffic management system by developing Performance Based Navigation (PBN) procedures for arriving and departing traffic. PBN differs from traditional air navigation, where aircraft navigate between fixed, ground-based navigational aids or are steered by air traffic control. PBN uses the Global Navigation Satellite Systems to determine aircraft position very accurately, and specifies a minimum level of on-board navigational performance monitoring and alerting, facilitating more precise lateral and horizontal routing. In this way, PBN greatly reduces fuel consumption and noise emissions. All phases of flight operations stand to benefit from PBN implementation. 

Modernising Bermuda’s air traffic management system will enable airlines and other operators to realise the full potential of their modern aircraft and enhancing operational safety and improve bottom line efficiencies. In the meantime, our thoughts and prays are with the family and friends of those who had loved ones on board flight MH370.