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CAA seeks feedback on proposed low-cost electronic conspicuity devices

PUBLISHED: 15:21 31 March 2016 | UPDATED: 15:21 31 March 2016

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Proposals for how those operating in uncontrolled airspace can use low cost and low power electronic devices (known as electronic conspicuity), making them more visible to each other have been released by the UK Civil Aviation Authority (CAA).

The proposals, contained in CAP 1391 Electronic Conspicuity have been developed in conjunction with the GA community and NATS. The document sets out the benefits of using devices to enhance the visibility of aircraft. It explains how people can legally carry and use these devices in flight to aid a pilot’s visual scanning by alerting other aircraft, carrying compatible devices, of their proximity.

The CAA believes that any move to make aircraft more visible is an aid to safety. In the UK there are no requirements for light aircraft flying outside controlled airspace to carry any form of electronic device, such as a transponder. And there are no current plans to mandate such equipment in uncontrolled airspace.

Transponders may add too much weight and have unrealistic power requirements for certain aircraft. Therefore, the new plans set out an industry standard for equipment based on Automatic Dependant Surveillance-Broadcast (ADS-B) technology which is low cost and can be produced as light-weight and low power devices.

The standards have been drawn up by the GA community and the CAA, through an electronic conspicuity working group and build on scoping work that was chaired by AOPA Chief Executive Martin Robinson, representatives from other GA organisations advising the work.

Clair Muir, CAA Manager of Safety Programmes, said: “We are aiming to make it significantly easier and cheaper for pilots to be able to show other aircraft their position electronically by turning the VFR ‘see and avoid’ concept into ‘see, be seen and avoid’. The goal is to create an environment which encourages more GA pilots to equip their aircraft with a device voluntarily. If that happens then we hope to see a reduction in the number of mid-air collisions and Airprox incidents.

“As part of the planned introduction of the proposal we are consulting with manufacturers on a new process that aims to remove regulatory barriers, making it easier for manufacturers to build a range of devices. Once the process is up and running manufacturers will be required to make a declaration to the CAA that their device complies with the relevant approval. This will ensure that all EC devices, that have an acknowledged declaration, meet the standard set out for it to be used legally on board an aircraft. The administration charge for declaration has been waived for the first year of the scheme.”

A list of current declarations will be published on the CAA website. It is then the responsibility of the aircraft operator to ensure that the device has a valid declaration and can be used on board. The draft process is available at www.caa.co.uk/cap1391

The CAA is now seeking views on this proposal via a survey which is open until 18 April 2016. Once the responses to this survey have been assessed the final process for submitting a declaration will be published on the CAA website.

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