COSPAS-SARSAT TG-2 2017: GRICAS impresses the participants with the first flight tests results

From June 20th to June 26th, GRICAS technical manager took part to COSPAS-SARSAT TG-2 on “Second-generation beacon (SGB) and SGB/FGB ELT(DT) development of operational documents, development of C/S A.003 (system monitoring and reporting), and QMS” in Montréal, Quebec, Canada.

GRICAS presented the information paper 10 “Localization Performances Of SGB ELT(DT) On-Board A Flying Airplane”. This paper presented the results of the first in-flight test of GRICAS end-to-end demonstrator of an Autonomous Distress Tracking system based on C/S SGB. The demonstrator completed successfully the Test Case Plan developed by the engineering team to validate the compliance of GRICAS solution to ICAO recommendations and EUROCAE specifications and thus demonstrated the relevance of using C/S for Autonomous Distress Tracking.

France, as leader of the GRICAS project, organized and supervised the first in-flight demonstration of the ELT(DT) SGB prototype on-board a CESSNA 182 test airplane in April 2017 (see previous posts on this web site for more information). The results of the real-time processing and the post-processing of the data collected for the SGB ELT(DT) reception and independent localization performances were gathered in the paper. For comparison purpose, few tests were also conducted with an FGB (typical ELT), for which the results are also provided. A proposition to use the 9 spare bits in Rotating Field 1 for ELT-DT was also presented to provide pitch and roll angle values.

Concluding the presentation of the paper, France invited the Task Group to:

Note that the project which started beginning of 2016 to demonstrate the operational and performance compliance of the Cospas-Sarsat System to the ICAO requirements, based on end-to-end demonstrations, using an SGB mounted on aircraft coupled with a second-generation capable MEOLUT, has successfully performed its first in-flight demonstration;

Note that the performances of single-burst moving SGB independent localisation with accuracy are better than 1 km at 95%

Note that it is recommended the MEOLUTs to transmit to the MCC for fast-moving beacons all single-bursts localizations. Since there can be until 6 single-bursts localizations per minute, it is in addition recommended to transmit several dated positions inside the same message to the MCC, to separate the capability to deliver several positions and the requirements on latency and volume flow. For instance, this could be one SIT message per 30 seconds containing at maximum 3 positions. The same logic would be applied for communications of SIT between MCCs.

Note the second and third in-flight demonstrations will take place in July 2017 in the region of Toulouse on-board an helicopter, in Dakar in September 2017 on-board an ATR 42 and finally end of 2017 or beginning of 2018 on-board a Falcon 20 or a ATR 42 with RLS use. All the results available on time will be reported to Joint Committee 31 in October 2017 and to the adequate C/S meetings in 2018 for the last field trials.

Note the possible use of the spare bits in C/S T.018 Rotating Field 1 proposed in this paper.

GRICAS results were very well received by TG-2 participants. And “the Task Group noted general agreement to: thank France for initiating and conducting its ambitious in-flight SGB ELT(DT) demonstration test campaign and for providing the results of its first test to this meeting; and invite France to continue its SGB ELT(DT) demonstrations, and share the collected test data and results with interested participants.” (extract from C/S TG-2 report).

But beyond presenting of the general progress of the project, the first in-flight tests results and the planning of future in-flight field trials, GRICAS consortium is also involved in several major topics discussed during C/S TG-2 like the MEOSAR QMS definition, the writing of C/S ELT-DT ConOps or the technical and operational discussions on the definition of an ELT combining both the DT and AF capacities.

TG-2 was also the opportunity to talk about the NASA/GRICAS cooperation on SGB ELT-DT development. Summer will now be dedicated to analyzing in a more detailed way the data collected during GRICAS 1st field trial and also to collect some more during the next field trial this time on-board an helicopter flying in the region of Toulouse. GRICAS being willing to promote SGB development and ELT-DT in particular, the information related the next field trial and the following ones will be made available upon request to any COSPAS-SARSAT participants.