In November 2021, the UK Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) and Department for Transport (DfT) established the Surveillance Standards Task Force with industry to develop surveillance specifications, including a national, voluntary standard for Electronic Conspicuity (EC).
The broad scope of the Task Force was to:
- Identify the operational need for an EC standard from future airspace scenarios;
- Identify the minimum standards which would satisfy the operational needs;
- Identify the minimum standards that could fill the recognised gaps in the UK regulatory framework; and,
- Create a Roadmap for updates to the regulatory framework that support implementation.
The aim of a new EC specification is to enable the delivery of the Airspace Modernisation Strategy, integrate new airspace users while reducing the associated risk of mid-air collision in UK airspace, enhancing safety. To facilitate this work, a study was commissioned by the DfT to explore the options. This work was conducted in three phases by Egis, an independent aviation consultancy firm:
Phase 1 recommended an approach utilising existing global standards (operating on 1090 MHz for piloted aircraft and 978 Mhz for unpiloted aircraft (UAS) respectively), focussing on voluntary uptake where possible, and mandatory carriage only where necessary.
Phase 2 developed scenarios to identify the operational requirements and assumptions needed to deliver the recommended approach and assessed the potential costs of transition to possible new standards. It also conducted a gap analysis of the existing UK regulatory framework.
Phase 3 developed a suggested regulatory roadmap required to support implementation of the preferred recommendation.
The DfT and CAA will agree a programme of work to deliver a new EC specification in the UK, aligned to the aims of the Airspace Modernisation Strategy, to support the rapidly evolving needs of new airspace users and to provide additional safety benefits to airspace users in Class G airspace in the UK.
This will require significant engagement with the airspace user and equipment provider communities to ensure transparency and understanding and allow individuals to make the right choices. There will be detailed consultation on how existing and new supporting policies may be amended or created. This will include specific issues packaged together to provide a fuller picture of change, ensure coherent development, and an effective approach for consultees to feed into.
The DfT and CAA both support the recommendations made by Egis in their report for aircraft to be equipped with regulated EC devices that meet the proposed specifications.
We strongly encourage voluntary use of EC devices in all airspace to enhance their visibility to other traffic.
The Egis reports can be found here:
- Phase 1 report – www.caa.co.uk/CAP2498A
- Phase 2 report – www.caa.co.uk/CAP2498B
- Phase 3 report – www.caa.co.uk/CAP2498C
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