Radio Frequency (RF) and Surveillance Avionics Analysis

RF Environmental Analysis

The 1030/1090 MHz radio frequency (RF) spectrum is at the heart of the modern surveillance infrastructure. Whilst modern surveillance techniques are more RF efficient, many older systems remain in operation and these are contributing to a congested RF environment in which transponders and ground stations are struggling to cope. 

Although detailed simulations have been made of the RF environment that transponders are operating in, they are recognised as having limitations. Therefore, to obtain an accurate view of the actual status, EUROCONTROL has developed a set of test and data analysis equipment which is carried on board specially configured aircraft aircraft as they conduct their normal range of flights through the increasingly dense RF fog above Europe.

Periodically the captured data is downloaded from the aircraft and scrutinised by surveillance experts to determine a true image of the RF environment. Such information is key to developing safe and cost-effective strategies that stakeholders can implement to mitigate RF congestion. The information is also being used to provide evidence in support of the proposals being made to adapt the surveillance aspect of airborne collision avoidance systems (ACAS).

Through the RF and Surveillance Avionics Functional Performance Analysis Project the performance of the system can thus be ensured by providing a comprehensive means to investigate and test both airborne and ground-based components of the ATM surveillance infrastructure.

Surveillance Avionics Functional Performance Analysis (SAFPA)

The main objective of the Surveillance Avionics Functional and Performance Analysis is to ensure that airborne surveillance system infrastructure used in Europe provides the right function with the right performance in order to support a safe and efficient Air Traffic Control in the European airspace.

SAFPA performs proactive comprehensive monitoring of aircraft's transponder performance by analysing data provided by ANSPs across Europe. If anomalous behaviour is identified, the issue is investigated in more detail and, if necessary, the aircraft operator or transponder manufacturers are informed of the circumstances. To conduct the investigative aspect of the task, a unique laboratory test bed has been developed that fully tests the capabilities and operations of any transponder. Using this test bed it is possible to resolve transponder anomalies without recourse to expensive flight trials.

In addition any problem detected with Surveillance avionics is encouraged to be reported to the SAFPA cell that will investigate the issues and take the necessary actions together with the involved stakeholders to correct them.

The activities of the SAFPA are complemented by those of the ADS-B monitoring project.

ANSPs, aircraft operators, manufacturers (airframe, avionics and ground systems) and regulators can contact SAFPA for any question on implementation of Surveillance Avionics.

The point of contact for more inforamtion, to report issues or request support is our SAFPA Support team.

SAFPA Support

Contact us for more information, to request support or to report an issue.