FAA Proposes collision avoidance systems for cargo aircraft

by Canadian Shipper

The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has proposed that cargo airlines install electronic collision avoidance systems that would reduce the risk of mid-air collisions.

The FAA proposes to use aircraft weight and performance, rather than passenger-seating configuration, to determine which aircraft must have a collision avoidance system.

This would standardize the collision avoidance system requirements for airplanes of similar size and capability, regardless of whether they carry passengers or freight.

Such systems would have to be operated on all affected aircraft after
Oct. 31, 2003.

“Today, cargo air carriers operate more than 1,100 airplanes and the demand for air cargo services continues to grow. This rule extends the well-proven benefits of collision avoidance systems to this vital segment of aviation,” said FAA Administrator Jane F. Garvey.

The FAA currently requires all passenger aircraft with more than 10 seats to have Traffic Alert and Collision Avoidance System (TCAS) equipment. The system works by interacting with transponders (electronic identification devices) in other aircraft to determine whether they could become a potential collision threat.

The NPRM responds to a section of the Wendell H. Ford Aviation Investment and Reform Act (AIR-21) that became law on April 5, 2000. AIR-21 directs the FAA to require that all-cargo airplanes with a maximum certified takeoff weight of more than 15,000
kilograms (33,000 pounds) be equipped with collision avoidance equipment by December 31, 2002. The law allows a two-year extension.

This proposed rule also addresses a September 1999 recommendation from the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), although the FAA’s rule is broader in scope than the actions recommended by the NTSB.

The language of the proposed rule allows for systems equivalent to TCAS that the FAA may approve in the future.

The FAA will accept comments on the NPRM for 60 days following publication of the proposed rule.

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