As a crew of the Flight Inspection Unit of the Airports Authority of India, our task involves undertaking commissioning, calibration, and trials of the various Navigation Aids at airports across India and in the neighboring countries. During one such exercise, we recently undertook the Transponder Landing System (TLS) trials at Safdarjung Airport, New Delhi. TLS is quite an interesting system, not many of us have read about. In the succeeding paragraphs, I have briefly explained the system.
Advanced Navigation and Positioning Corp. developed the Transponder Landing System. Though the system was conceptualized in the mid-90s, it has been under regular upgradation and development to improve further and enhance its functioning. TLS is an all-weather, precision landing system that uses existing airborne transponder and Instrument Landing System (ILS) equipment to create a precision approach at a location where an ILS would normally not be available.
A Conventional ILS system broadcasts using a number of "single purpose" antennas. One, located just off the end of the runway, provides a fan-shaped signal for azimuth direction (side to side), and another, located beside the runway, provides elevation to indicate a standard glideslope.
However, there are only a few components in the TLS system. The most visible are four units mounted in a 50-meter radius alongside the runway. There is a base station unit, a Calibration/Built-in-Test (BIT) unit that monitors station accuracy and integrity, and two angles of arrival antennas. The localizer and glideslope angle of arrival (AOA) sensors are used to define the flight path from the transponder system as it nears the runway. A central processor in the base station computes the aircraft's position in three dimensions, calculates where it should be in relation to the approach, and transmits corrections to the aircraft over the localizer and glideslope transmitter. The TLS complies with ICAO standards and recommended practices (SARPS) for ILS, secondary surveillance (SSR), and precision approach radar (PAR). TLS performance meets all FAA and ICAO Annex 10 requirements for a Category I approach in terms of Accuracy, Integrity, and Reliability.
The TLS detects all aircraft within the service volume by interrogating Mode-A/C /S/IFF transponders. Once the ATC clears an aircraft for the TLS approach, the pilot must tune and identify the TLS localizer frequency as they would with a traditional ILS. TLS broadcasts RF signals to the aircraft ILS equipment to provide a Category I approach. The pilot training and airborne equipment required for TLS approaches are identical to that for traditional ILS or precision approach radar. Any aircraft equipped with an ILS localizer and glide slope receiver, Horizontal Situation Indicator (HSI) or Course Deviation Indicator (CDI), and a Mode 3/A or Mode S compatible transponder can fly a TLS approach. The guidance is presented to the pilot just as it would be for an ILS approach.
The key to TLS technology is a compact footprint of an SSR interrogator and ground-based sensors that track an aircraft’s location in range, azimuth (horizontal position), and elevation (vertical position) with very high accuracy. The range and azimuth for the surveillance tracks are computed using multilateration techniques on the arrival time of synchronous replies from the aircraft’s radar beacon transponder. The elevation information for the surveillance targets uses the transponder Mode C reply. When an aircraft cleared for the TLS approach enters the approach volume, the system uses differential phase measurements on the transponder reply’s carrier signal. These phase measurements are used to generate the target's precise azimuth and elevation positions. The TLS then computes the aircraft’s offset from the programmed approach path and generates the ILS correction for this offset. The TLS UHF/VHF guidance transmitters then broadcast this emulated ILS signal throughout the guidance volume. The guidance appears to the pilot as needle movements on the ILS course deviation indicator in the cockpit that are identical to an ILS and can be flown by the cleared aircraft down to the minimum descent altitude. The aircraft position can also be displayed on the ground console with a format matching a Precision Approach Radar display for use in Ground Controlled Approach operations. For Ground Controlled Approach (GCA) operations, the TLS provides controllers with a secondary radar display of area aircraft traffic. For landing multiple aircraft using precision approach radar consoles, up to four individual PAR consoles can be used for controllers to guide up to four aircraft independently.
Aircraft position tracks All aircraft positions within the display field of view are depicted
Single aircraft may be selected for each of the operator consoles to provide talk-down guidance
Key differences as Compared to an ILS
First, the approach profile for TLS is not a function of alignment between the approach path and antennas like a traditional ILS that radiates the signal without tracking the aircraft's position. The approach path is configured using virtual point technology, meaning the localizer and glideslope aiming points are mathematical points programmed into the site’s TLS configuration. The TLS can inherently support offset and non-linear approach procedures where a straight-in approach is not feasible due to noise abatement or obstacle clearance issues. Virtual point technology also allows the TLS to provide a localizer signal that complies with ICAO tolerances regardless of the runway length or obstacles at the end of the runway.
Second, while a traditional ILS signal to an aircraft is impacted by multipath due to buildings and the surrounding terrain, for the TLS, the aircraft’s transponder replies are affected by multipath. ANPC has developed multipath mitigation with antenna selection and signal processing. Additionally, the TLS tracking algorithms smooth the received measurements. Included in these mitigation techniques, is a site-specific calibration process that models the multipath received at each sensor array.
Third, though the TLS provides a signal identical to an ILS, it does so with equipment sitting that is more compact than an ILS. This may enable many airports to have a precision ILS approaches which would otherwise not be feasible with the traditional ILS equipment.
TLS over ILS
Trials were recently conducted for an Unmanned Aerial System (UAS) or Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) to operate and navigate in an environment devoid of a Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS) such as the Global Positioning System (GPS). Trials were undertaken by interrogating an aviation transponder (either mode C or S) that is carried by the UAS and measuring the time elapsed for the response to multiple, ground-based antennas and using triangulation.
(multilateration) to locate the transponder and, by association, the UAS. The ground-based system then routed this position information back to the UAS via the UAS's data telemetry link. The autopilot utilized this position information for navigation like it would utilize a GPS-based position report. These trials successfully demonstrated that the TLS system can guide a UAS through a series of waypoints without GPS signals. The serviced area for a TLS system may extend up to 100 Nautical miles.
The Transponder Landing System offers many advantages and can provide landing guidance at places that the traditional Instrument Landing System cannot serve. The TLS has been successfully used by helicopters to approach an Oil rig/Heliports where visual approaches in below VMC conditions have often resulted in accidents. The TLS may also effectively provide an offset and non-linear precision approach in hilly terrain where CFIT has resulted in numerous accidents.
This article was first published in the January 2022 edition of 100 Knots Magazine.
In the ever-evolving world of aviation, exciting developments are always on the horizon. A recent wave of news has unveiled the intriguing possibility of Boeing securing an order for approximately 25 wide-body aircraft from IndiGo, India's largest airline. As of August 14, 2023, the aviation industry's attention is squarely fixed on this development, which could signify a major step forward for both Boeing and IndiGo.
Exploring IndiGo's Expanding Horizons
The Date and the Decision
On the 14th of August, 2023, aviation enthusiasts and industry observers wereon the edge of their seats as IndiGo, India's premier airline, navigates its way through a crucial decision. The stakes are high, and the implications are far-reaching as the airline charts a course for its future expansion.
The Scope of Expansion
IndiGo's ambitions know no bounds as it endeavors to broaden its horizons on the international stage. As air travel continues to evolve and global connectivity becomes more integral, airlines are vying for competitive edges. IndiGo, known for its efficient operations and customer-centric approach, is poised to embark on a journey that could redefine its role in the industry.
The Front-Runner Emerges
Boeing, a renowned name in the aviation industry, has emerged as the leading contender for a significant order of wide-body aircraft from IndiGo. According to insiders familiar with the matter, talks have been ongoing regarding IndiGo's interest in acquiring Boeing's 787 series of twin-aisle aircraft. This strategic move aligns with IndiGo's aspirations to expand its international presence, connecting more travelers to captivating destinations around the world.
A Clash of Titans: Boeing 787 vs. Airbus A330neo
As discussions unfold behind closed doors, the aircraft under consideration face an interesting standoff. Boeing's 787 series finds itself in direct competition with Airbus A330neo jets. This rivalry showcases the innovation and prowess of both aircraft manufacturers, each vying for the chance to contribute to IndiGo's expansion plans. As passengers and industry enthusiasts wait in anticipation, the decision promises to have a lasting impact on the airline's future operations.
Veiled in Secrecy: The Negotiation Process
Amidst the buzz surrounding this potential partnership, a shroud of secrecy envelops the negotiation process. Sources, preferring anonymity due to the confidential nature of the discussions, reveal that no final decision has been reached yet. This veil of secrecy adds an air of suspense to the unfolding narrative, leaving the industry to speculate about the outcomes that these negotiations might yield.
Muted Responses: Statements from Industry Giants
IndiGo, maintaining a poised stance, refrains from commenting on the swirling speculations. This silence hints at the sensitivity and significance of the ongoing negotiations. Airbus, equally enigmatic, states its policy of not engaging in commentary about potential discussions with existing or prospective clients. Boeing, too, declines to offer any insights, fostering an aura of suspense around the situation.
Unveiling the Future: What Lies Ahead?
The outcome of these negotiations extends beyond mere aircraft acquisition. It's a reflection of IndiGo's aspirations and a blueprint for its future endeavors. The aircraft of choice will dictate the airline's capabilities, its reach, and the experiences it offers to its passengers. As Boeing and Airbus contend for this sought-after deal, their technological prowess and commitment to innovation come to the forefront.
A Glimpse into the Future
The potential collaboration between Boeing and IndiGo holds the promise of reshaping the aviation landscape. With the prowess of Boeing's 787 series and IndiGo's ambitious expansion goals, the partnership could pave the way for enhanced travel experiences and connectivity. Passengers eagerly anticipate the unveiling of the chosen aircraft, eagerly imagining the destinations they might soon explore.
In the dynamic world of aviation, decisions have far-reaching consequences. As the clock ticks and speculations continue to mount, IndiGo's choice between Boeing and Airbus represents more than just an aircraft order. It embodies the airline's vision for the future, its commitment to excellence, and its determination to soar to new heights.
With Inputs from Reuters
Budget carrier SpiceJet swung to a first-quarter profit on Monday as lower expenses more than offset a fall in revenue. SpiceJet reported a consolidated net profit of INR 197.64 crore for the quarter ended June 30, 2023, versus a net loss of INR 783.72 crore in the year-ago period. The company simultaneously announced its March quarter earnings where it reported a net loss of INR 6.22 crore.
The low-cost carrier had reported a profit of INR 110 crore in the third quarter of FY23, a loss of INR 458 crore in the quarter ended March 2021-22, and a loss of INR 789 crore in the June quarter of FY23. The revenue from operations for the June ended quarter stood at INR 1,917.43 crore, down 19% from INR 2,371.53 crore reported in the year-ago period. In the March quarter of the last financial year, the revenue from operations stood at INR 2,043.91 crore.
The total revenue from operations for the January-March 2023 quarter came in at INR 2,145 crore, slightly higher than INR 1,870.5 crore reported in the year-ago quarter. The revenue for the Q1FY24 came in at INR 2,003.5, 18.5% lower from Rs 2,457 crore in the same period a year ago.
"I firmly believe in the potential of our airline, and I am pleased to have contributed to its growth by infusing INR 500 Crore into the Company. This infusion will help bolster our efforts in reviving our grounded planes, for which we have been working tirelessly, strengthening our fleet and expanding our cargo operations," chairman and managing director Ajay Singh said in a press release.
The company's profit was on the back of a 36% decline in total expenses for the said quarter to INR 2,069.24 crore. In the March quarter, the company incurred expenses worth INR 2,504.79 crore. In FY23, SpiceJet said it lowered its losses to INR 1,503 crore against to INR 1,725 crore in FY22. For the same comparative period, it reported operating revenue of INR 8,869 crore in FY23 as against INR 6,557 crore in FY22.
On April 1, 2023, SpiceJet completed the hive-off of its logistics platform into a separate entity, SpiceXpress and Logistics Pvt Ltd. "Consequent to the hive-off there is an improvement of net worth in SpiceJet to the tune of INR 2,557 crore (from negative INR 4,288 crore to negative INR 3,232 crore i.e. positive variance by 25%), it said.
"To strengthen the financial position of the company, promoter/promoter group to infuse INR 500 crore by way of subscription to equity shares and/or convertible securities/equity share warrants on a preferential basis. It received the disbursement of funds under the Emergency Credit Line Guarantee Scheme, which has been utilised towards ungrounding of aircraft. The airline plans to bring around 25 of its grounded planes back into service. Further, the aforesaid infusion by the promoter will provide access to additional INR 200 crore disbursement under the ECLGS," it further mentioned.
SpiceJet has been reeling under financial stress, with the carrier losing INR 1,516 crore in the first three quarters of the previous financial year and earning a profit in just one. For the 11 quarters since the start of COVID-19, the airline amassed cumulative losses of INR 4,220 crore.
On March 31, 2023, the airline’s net worth was negative INR 3,231.6 crore. The airline is battling multiple court cases regarding claims of payments from claimants including its earlier promoter Kalanithi Maran and has been trying to raise funds for many months now. The Supreme Court had last month directed the airline to pay INR 380 crore to Maran.
The Board of SpiceJet had deferred the release of Q4FY23 and Q1FY23 results for today after the company could only partially complete the agenda items listed during its Friday board meeting. SpiceJet delayed announcing the results of the fourth quarter of 2022-23 as a key member of its audit committee was ill. This is the second time in a row that the airline delayed its fourth-quarter results. The Q4FY22 result was delayed due to a ransomware attack.
Shares of SpiceJet rose sharply after the earnings were out today. The stock jumped 6.02% to hit a day high of INR 33.45 over its previous close of INR 31.55.
El Al Israel Airlines Confirms Talks With Airbus for Potential A321 Neo Aircraft Order
Israel-based El Al has confirmed that it is currently in talks with Airbus about a potential A321neo order, with the final decision to be made during 2024. In an interview with Reuters, the airline’s Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Ben Tal Ganancia said that the negotiations with Airbus were “serious” and that the Israeli carrier is discussing with Airbus and Boeing over a potential narrow-body aircraft order. “They are coming back and forth to Israel to show us their business cases and we are examining them,” Ganancia added.
The executive’s statement confirms what the airline said during its Q1 2023 financial results presentation in May 2023: El Al wants to expand and renew its fleet starting by 2025. The carrier sent a Request for Proposals (RFP) to Airbus, Boeing, and engine manufacturers over its next-generation single-aisle jets. In its Q2 2023 financial update presentation, El Al outlined its plans to grow its narrow-body fleet to between 28 and 31 aircraft by 2028, including the introduction of next-generation aircraft like the A321neo. According to the airline’s estimates, its Boeing 787 fleet is scheduled to grow to 22 aircraft by 2028.
Since its inception in 1948, El Al has maintained an all-Boeing fleet, owing to Israel's close ties with chief ally the United States, so a break would be a significant policy change. It is normal for airlines to seek quotes from both major planemakers and the change of supplier is not guaranteed. Boeing is certain to try to defend its longstanding position at the carrier. But the A321neo, with more seats and a longer range, has been steadily winning market share in the lucrative top end of the single-aisle market.
Current Fleet Analysis
Currently, the airline operates a total of 46 aircraft: 16 Boeing 737-800s, eight 737-900ERs, six 777-200ERs, four 787-8s, and 12?787-9s. However, its Boeing 737s are ageing, with the average age of the 737-800 and 737-900ER being 18.9 and 8.6 years, respectively. Replacing them would help the airline to reduce direct and indirect operating costs, such as fuel and airport-related expenses.
Acquiring them on short notice would be difficult, though, as both manufacturers are sold out several years in advance. On the other hand, turning to aircraft leasing companies that hold earlier delivery slots could help El Al get access to newer aircraft. For short-haul flights, it plans to replace its fleet of 24 Boeing 737-800 - which have an average age of 19 years - and 737-900 planes, while possibly buying another six. The purchase would be done in several tranches, said Ben Tal Ganancia.
In recent years, El Al has been upgrading its longer-haul fleet. It currently has 16 Boeing 787 Dreamliner aircraft, with plans to reach 22 as it expands its route network further to Asia, Australia and North America. It is also retrofitting four Boeing 777 aircraft for longer routes. This year it launched flights to Istanbul, Dublin and Tokyo and expects to add Mumbai and Fort Lauderdale later in 2023.
Toulouse-headquartered Airbus has also been making further inroads in the Middle East. In December 2021, the United Arab Emirates agreed to spend $19 billion on 80 Rafales and a dozen military helicopters from French aerospace giant Airbus, in what was France’s largest-ever foreign military sale. The deal contributed over $17 billion to French arms exports in 2022 alone, Agence France-Presse reported.
Good Financial Results
El Al is targeting USD 3.5 billion in annual revenue and 7.7 million passengers in 2028 for a 24% market share at Ben Gurion International Airport near Tel Aviv. It expects revenue of $2.4 billion in 2023, up from USD 2.0 billion last year.
In the second quarter, El Al earned a net of USD 59 million versus a net profit of USD 100 million a year earlier. Excluding a large one-time gain from the sale of its frequent flier club, El Al recorded a USD 15 million net loss in the second quarter of 2022.
Its bottom line this year was helped by a 29% decline in fuel costs, though salary expenses rose 37.5% in the quarter. Revenue grew 22% to USD 630 million, above USD 584 million in the second quarter of 2019 before the pandemic hit travel. Its load factor - a measure of seats filled - reached 87%, from 82% a year earlier, while El Al maintained a 23% market share at Ben Gurion International Airport.
The aviation industry has faced unprecedented challenges since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. However, a glimmer of hope shines through as Frankfurt Airport (FRA) experiences a significant milestone in its journey to recovery. In July 2023, FRA welcomed more than 6 million monthly passengers for the first time since the COVID-19 epidemic, marking a remarkable achievement and indicating a strong resurgence for the aviation sector.
A Promising Sign of Recovery
A Leap Towards Normalcy
The month of July 2023 witnessed a monumental achievement for Frankfurt Airport as it proudly hosted over 6 million passengers. This milestone signifies a substantial 20% increase from July 2022, reflecting the gradual return of travelers' confidence in air travel.
A Steady Climb
While the figure remains 13.1% lower than the pre-crisis level of 2019, the consistent growth over the past year is a testament to the aviation industry's resilience. The steady recovery trajectory showcases the adaptability of airports like FRA in the face of adversity.
A Glimpse of Normality
The surge in passenger traffic aligns with global efforts to combat the pandemic. With vaccinations becoming more accessible and safety measures in place, travelers are once again embracing the joy of exploration, and FRA stands as a gateway to their journeys.
Cargo Movement Takes Flight Too
A Boost in Cargo Traffic
It's not just passengers who contributed to FRA's resurgence; cargo traffic also played a pivotal role. In July 2023, FRA's cargo throughput, encompassing both airfreight and airmail, experienced a commendable 2.3% increase compared to July 2022, reaching a total of 164,503 metric tons.
Elevating the Industry
This upward trend in cargo movement speaks volumes about the recovering global economy. As industries regain their footing, the need for efficient cargo transportation becomes more crucial than ever, with airports like FRA acting as vital facilitators.
Taking to the Skies: Aircraft Movements Soar
The skies above Frankfurt Airport have been bustling with activity. The reported 16.1% year-on-year increase in aircraft movements, totaling 40,626 takeoffs and landings, paints a picture of revitalized connectivity and mobility.
Paving the Runway to Prosperity
This surge in aircraft movements echoes the sentiments of a world eager to reconnect. As business and leisure travel regain momentum, FRA emerges as a hub of opportunities, linking people and markets with seamless efficiency.
Powering the Recovery: Total Maximum Takeoff Weights
Total Maximum Takeoff Weights (MTOWs) witnessed a notable surge as well, ascending by 13.5% year on year to approximately 2.5 million metric tons in July 2023. This statistic underscores the revival of not only passenger travel but also the transportation of goods and services.
Symbol of Progress
The increasing MTOWs symbolize the aviation industry's resolute march towards recovery. The higher weights indicate growing confidence in air travel, translating to increased economic activity and opportunities on a global scale.
A Collective Triumph and the Path Forward
The milestones achieved by Frankfurt Airport in July 2023 are a testament to the collective resilience of the aviation industry. These achievements were made possible through the dedication of airport staff, airlines, and passengers who navigated challenging times together.
Navigating the New Norm
While the numbers reflect a positive trajectory, challenges still exist. Navigating the evolving landscape of travel requirements and health protocols remains crucial for the sustained recovery of FRA and the aviation sector as a whole.
Building Back Better
As Frankfurt Airport continues its journey of recovery, it's poised to emerge stronger and more adaptable. The lessons learned during the pandemic have paved the way for innovative approaches that will shape the future of air travel.
In July 2023, Frankfurt Airport achieved a monumental milestone by welcoming over 6 million monthly passengers, a significant step towards post-pandemic recovery. The resurgence in passenger traffic, cargo movement, aircraft operations, and total maximum takeoff weights collectively signify the industry's remarkable rebound. While challenges persist, FRA's journey stands as a beacon of hope, illustrating the aviation sector's ability to adapt, evolve, and overcome adversity.
With Inputs from Fraport
The aviation industry has long been a crucial part of a nation's identity, economy, and global connectivity. Biman Bangladesh, as the national flag carrier of Bangladesh, has held a significant role in representing the country's air travel prowess. However, recent developments have cast a shadow over the airline's reputation, as it finds itself under the scrutiny of national and international authorities for alleged violations of pilot recruiting regulations.
The Allegations Surface
The storm began when allegations of Biman Bangladesh violating both national and international pilot recruiting regulations started circulating. These allegations, if proven true, could not only dent the airline's image but also raise questions about safety and adherence to industry standards.
A Directive from the High Court
In response to these alarming allegations, the nation's high court stepped in. The court's intervention showcases the seriousness of the situation and the need for a thorough investigation. The directive, which requires authorities to present an official report within a month, signals the urgency and importance attached to this matter.
On Wednesday, a bench comprising Justices JBM Hasan and Razik-Al-Jalil issued an order to probe the carrier's pilot recruitment practices. The three-member committee was constituted in response to the legal notification received on March 27 to investigate the allegations. The committee consists of the secretary to the Ministry of Civil Aviation and Tourism, a senior Biman official, and a senior Civil Aviation Authority official.
The investigation into the flag carrier began when the Bangladesh Airlines Pilots Association (BAPA) claimed that the national flag carrier's leadership had significantly breached international and its own standards in recruiting pilots. The airline's regular operations are being hampered by regulatory violations. To maintain seamless operations, BAPA sought an inquiry into the recruitment.
The Investigative Process
The investigation process will involve a comprehensive analysis of the pilot recruiting procedures followed by Biman Bangladesh. This includes evaluating whether the airline has adhered to the required qualifications, background checks, and training programs for pilots. The inquiry aims to determine if any shortcuts were taken in the recruitment process, potentially compromising aviation safety.
National and International Ramifications
The allegations extend beyond national borders, as they concern international regulations as well. If found guilty, Biman Bangladesh could face consequences not only at home but also in terms of its international operations. This raises questions about the airline's reputation on a global scale and its ability to maintain partnerships and collaborations with other carriers.
According to BAPA's letter to the airline, "Due to Biman's severe irresponsibility, the crews of the Boeing 787 flight had to travel abroad to retake two trainings known as ZFTT and PPC, resulting in a massive financial loss for Biman."
Safety at the Core
Aviation safety is paramount, and any breach of recruiting regulations poses a threat to passengers, crew, and aviation personnel. The investigation serves as a reminder that compliance with these regulations is not just a legal obligation but a responsibility towards the safety and well-being of everyone involved in air travel.
The repercussions of this investigation stretch beyond Biman Bangladesh alone. The entire aviation industry could undergo increased scrutiny, as regulatory bodies and passengers alike demand transparency and adherence to guidelines. This incident could prompt a reevaluation of recruiting practices across airlines to ensure that safety is never compromised.
The Way Forward
As the investigation unfolds, Biman Bangladesh faces a critical juncture. The airline must cooperate fully with authorities, provide all necessary documentation, and address any concerns raised during the inquiry. Transparency and accountability will be key factors in mitigating the damage to the airline's reputation.
The aviation industry thrives on the trust of passengers. Incidents like this serve as a reminder that trust can be fragile and easily shattered. Biman Bangladesh must take this opportunity to reestablish its commitment to safety, transparency, and adherence to regulations.
In conclusion, the investigation into Biman Bangladesh's alleged violations of pilot recruiting regulations holds significant implications for the airline and the broader aviation sector. The industry's commitment to safety and adherence to guidelines is under scrutiny, emphasizing the importance of maintaining a culture of compliance and accountability.
With Inputs from UNB