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Where there is no law, but every man does what is right in his own eyes, there is the least of real liberty
Henry M. Robert

Airspace navigator

Ukrainians design unique system to prevent midair collisions
27 September, 2005 - 00:00

Ukraine is the second country in the world to design a traffic collision avoidance system (TCAS). This idea was brought to life in 2003 by the Kyiv-based scientific research institute Buran, which has been specializing in avionics for civilian and military transport aircraft since 1987. Virtually all civilian planes in the CIS are equipped with Buran radars. Buran made headlines recently after announcing the creation of a TCAS complex called SPZ-2000, which can guarantee flight safety while working autonomously onboard the aircraft. Since 2003 the International Civil Aviation Organization has banned all planes without TCAS systems from entering airspace. Buran’s technical director Oleksiy KOSYNSKY discusses the new system in the following interview with The Day.

“After creating the TCAS complex, the United States monopolized this sector. The fact is, no country except the US ever managed to develop an autonomous flight safety system that would meet the technical requirements of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), not even Russia, the European countries, or Japan. As a result, the world’s aviation industry came to depend on the US. Meanwhile, over a period of two years beginning in 2000 we designed our own traffic collision avoidance system SPZ-2000, making Ukraine the second country in the world to design and start mass production of such a system. Before that the TCAS system was manufactured only by two US firms. Before the USSR’s collapse, the St. Petersburg-based All-Union Scientific Research Institute of Radio Equipment was developing a similar system. It spent tens of millions of rubles, but could not complete this system. Now they have only reached the certification stage. Meanwhile, we had our system certified by the International Aviation Committee in January 2003. Our system has been approved by Eurocontrol [European Organization for the Safety of Air Navigation] and aviation services in other countries. Eurocontrol’s standards are tougher than America’s. Even the US manufacturers of TCAS were forced to upgrade their system to Eurocontrol’s requirements. Interestingly enough, our plans to develop this system were met with skepticism in Ukraine. But Azerbaijan believed in us, and we successfully tested it onboard an Azerbaijani Il-76 plane. Then SPZ-2000 was subjected to thorough testing in Ukraine onboard the An-12, An-26, and An-140 planes, which was conducted by specialists of the State Aviation Service of Ukraine and the Antonov Design Bureau. Even though our SPZ-2000 system appeared after the American system, its design is unique.

“Taking into account ICAO’s decision to ban planes without TCAS systems from entering airspace starting in 2003, you can imagine how much dependence this system has helped us to avoid.”

“This in fact means the end of the American monopoly in the sector. If so, where can this system’s export potential be realized?”

“This is in fact so, which should ensure a good demand for the SPZ- 2000 complex both in Ukraine and elsewhere. As for regions where this complex can be exported, these are primarily our aviation industry partners and nations that buy Ukrainian technologies, such as the CIS countries, the Middle East, Central and South East Asia as well as various North African nations.”

“What are the technical advantages of SPZ-2000, and what can this complex do in flight?”

“SPZ-2000 incorporates state-of-the-art radiolocation, cybernetics, navigation, and air traffic control. It is both a radio-technical and cybernetic system. It is an intelligent system that autonomously controls airspace, exchanges information, and makes decisions. It performs a whole spectrum of tasks and instantly prompts the pilot to prevent or handle conflict situations in flight, which makes it indispensable for guaranteeing safety. The flight parameters of the aircraft, the coordinates and flight trajectory of so-called conflict planes, calculations of collision probability, and issuance of commands for performing maneuvers to prevent collisions — this is just a short list of what SPZ-2000 can do. SPZ- 2000 is also used to exchange information with other planes and flight dispatchers, which opens up possibilities for coordinating commands for a collision avoidance maneuver. The crew’s role is reduced to strictly following collision avoidance maneuver commands.

“Speaking of technical advantages, Buran specialists succeeded in creating multiple-mode antennas and transceivers that work in all types of aircraft collision avoidance and traffic control without limitations. Meanwhile, the American system was created on the basis of four antennas and standalone equipment for controlling air traffic.

“The SPZ-2000 system won a certificate from the Fourth International Aerosvit Airspace Show that was held in Kyiv in the fall of 2004, and in 2005 SPZ-2000 was successfully demonstrated at the 46th International Paris Air Show in Le Bourget.”

“Obviously, such a system could not be created from scratch.”

“No, indeed, our scientific research institute has a quite long professional history. At one time we even took part in developing a radio-electronic complex for the military transport plane An-70. Speaking of our main specialization, I should also mention the meteorological radar MNRLS-85, which is installed on Il-96 and Tu-204 planes, radio locators Buran-72 and Buran-74, and the meteorological radar MNRLS Buran-A140, which is installed on planes from the An series, as well as Buran-A200 for the Be-200 plane and Buran-114 for the Il-114. These radars meet international standards.”

Interviewed by Valentyn BADRAK