Geofencing goes into battle against runway incursions

21 April 2017
With DRIWS, controllers have full visibility and control of the traffic lights inside vehicles. Source: RISE

Systems are making strides on both sides of the Atlantic

A prototype Digital Runway Incursion Warning System (DRIWS) from Saab company Combitech is being trialled at Umeå Airport in Sweden.

"We're now in the verification test phase, awaiting approval from the Swedish flight safety authority [Transportstyrelsen]," said Ingemar Roth, Combitech director of system integration.

DRIWS uses global navigation satellite system (GNSS) satellite data to reduce the risk of runway incursions caused by vehicles. It replaces holding lights with miniature traffic lights, installed on the driver dashboard of vehicles operating airside near runways and taxiways.

DRIWS progressed from the drawing board to a prototype in 18 months. It began as a research project involving RISE Viktoria - part of Research Institutes of Sweden - and Swedish air navigation service provider LFV. Combitech subsequently worked with LFV to develop DRIWS into an operational and commercially available system.

DRIWS includes a traffic light for access roads that is mounted inside the vehicle on the driver dashboard. The traffic light complies with an European Aviation Safety Authority (EASA) Certification Specification (CS) for road-holding position lights.

As the driver approaches a holding position, a red light with the associated signal is indicated by the vehicle device. When air traffic control (ATC) has authorises the vehicle to enter the runway area, a green light will appear. DRIWS also automatically transmits braking action reports to ATC.

Position data and other information (including braking action reports) are transferred in real time from devices on the GNSS sensor-equipped vehicle to ATC, with up to 10 updates per second. Enhanced precision is delivered via real-time kinematic (RTK) satellite navigation. "We offered three alternatives due to cost, but the controllers prefer RTK, where it is possible to have accuracy of a few centimetres," Roth explained to Jane's.

A geofencing function creates zones near runways and taxiways: a red zone means that the driver should contact tower control, while an orange zone covers a predefined distance from the centre of the runway.

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