uAvionix is participating in a Civil Aviation Authority-endorsed large-scale trial using ground-based ADS-B obstruction beacons operating on 978MHz Universal Access Transceiver (UAT) in the UK. A first-ever trial to use ADS-B to enhance the safety of glider, hang gliding, paragliding, and model flying operations, the trials will commence in the autumn of 2022 at various sites throughout the UK, supported by the UK Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) Airspace Modernisation Strategy (AMS).
Collision risks associated with hazardous overflight of winch launch gliding sites are well known to operators, yet frequent incidents continue to be reported. As part of the AMS, the CAA is seeking to implement measures to mitigate this and similar risk utilizing underutilized 978Mhz spectrum, commonly used in the USA as a secondary ADS-B frequency and for Traffic Information System Broadcast (TIS-B) and Flight Information System – Broadcast (FIS-B).
As the global market leader in UAT ADS-B devices, uAvionix is supporting the trials by providing purpose-built powered obstruction beacons that will be placed at 13 club sites throughout the UK, enabling the sites to be visualized when operational on any Electronic Flight Bag (EFB) utilizing ADS-B IN devices such as the uAvionix skyEcho2. The obstruction beacons will be switched on and broadcast only when flying activities are underway at the participating club sites.
The project will trial new airspace safety functionality built upon ground-based ADS-B obstruction beacons broadcasting on 978MHz UAT ADS-B protocols. Approved by the CAA, the project will be undertaken between September 1st and October 31st, 2022. The trials are a collaboration between uAvionix, the CAA, Association Head Office and member clubs of the British Gliding Association (BGA), British Hang Gliding & Paragliding Association (BHPA), and the British Model Flying Association & Large Model Association (BMFA & LMA).
Suitably equipped General Aviation pilots flying within the vicinity of these Beacons will be alerted in real-time to these aerial activities to enhance their situational awareness and safety. Other airspace users and interested parties may also benefit. The project will be seeking feedback from all relevant stakeholders.
The trial is approved by the CAA to evaluate digital Flight Information Service provision as part of the Airspace Modernisation Strategy.
Club Sites Participating in the Trial
|Club||Lat/Long||Beacon ID||Beacon Alt AMSL (ft)|
|Burn Gliding Club||534707N 0010551W||UKWLBURN||3100|
|Cambridge Gliding Club||521109N 0000640W||UKWLCAMB||3300|
|The Gliding Centre, Husbands Bosworth||522626N 0010238W||UKWLHUSB||3500|
|Lasham Airfield||511118N 0010152W||UKWLEGHL||3625|
|Derbyshire & Lancashire Gliding Club||531817N 0014345W||UKWLDLGC||3400|
|Challow Paragliding Club||513629N, 0012843W||UKHPCHAL||1300|
|Wessex HGPG||505229N 0021728W||UKHPWESS||2800|
|Avon HGPG||513715N 0024325W||UKHPAVON||2800|
|Cambridge Aerotow Club||523839N 0000641E||UKHPCAMB||2000|
|LMA North West Site||532646N 0022821W||UKMFLMNW||475|
|BMFA Buckminster||524650N 0004242W||UKMFBUCK||1950|
|Wimbourne Model Aero Club||505532N 0020117W||UKMFWIMB||1850|
|Phoenix Model Flying Club||514259N 0001541W||UKMFPHOE||1775|
Further information will be made available on the uAvionix website, where future updates will be posted. This will be shared as widely as possible to raise awareness with all stakeholders.
Notifications will also be published via official aviation channels, such as NOTAMs and AIS.
“The trial of functionality such as ADS-B Obstruction Beacons helps us understand and evaluate the benefits of deploying digital Flight Information Services as part of the Airspace Modernisation Strategy. We are pleased to fund this trial via the Airspace Modernisation Strategy Support Fund (AMSSF) and that uAvionix have chosen to work with some of our key General Aviation stakeholders to improve the promulgation and awareness of their activities at the trial locations, to deliver a safety benefit.”
“The BGA has for several years recorded and raised awareness of hazardous overflights of glider winch launch sites by aeroplanes and helicopters. These sites are depicted on ½ mil charts and described within the AIP. Participating in the obstruction beacon trial will contribute to an understanding of the effectiveness of using technology to highlight a fixed airspace hazard during flight and in doing so reduce mid-air conflict risk. It is important too that the equipment is reliable and affordable. We’re pleased to be working with others to identify the wider benefits of voluntary equipage of electronic conspicuity.”
“The BMFA and LMA are excited to be involved in this trial. We see it as an important stepping stone on the route to integrated airspace, where all manned, unmanned and autonomous aircraft can safely coexist, especially at low altitudes. We are looking for the trial to show how model aircraft will practically continue to fly while being in electronically conspicuous airspace that is visible to other traffic, increasing situational awareness and improving safety.”
“For many years the BHPA has sought to raise awareness amongst the UK aviation industry of the extent of UK hang glider and paraglider flights made by its membership operating in excess of 7500 aircraft. Operating far from established airfields in most cases, often from sites not marked on air charts, these aircraft can be foot-launched from hills or towed from flat ground into the air by winch or behind a microlight. They can also launch using a power unit from any reasonably flat area. The activities are described within the UK AIP as operating anywhere in the open FIR.
Unpowered thermal flights take place from ground level to cloudbase, which even in the UK, can occasionally be up to 10,000 feet. Flights of hundreds of km can, routinely, be made using thermals (the current UK distance record for an unpowered paraglider stands at 317km from Elan Valley, mid Wales, to Scarborough). A significant proportion of soaring and circuit flight activity takes place within 500ft of the ground and remains within a mile or so of a take-off area. It is common for fifty or more gliders to be flying soaring patterns above a ridge and or an area of hillside.
The very low airspeed of hang gliders and paragliders enables them to fly in close proximity to each other using ‘see and avoid’ as an effective means of collision avoidance. However, they lack the manoeuvrability to take significant collision avoidance action against faster heavier aircraft. On-board ADS-B has not yet been demonstrated to be fully effective and compatible with the open-cockpit nature of hang gliders and paragliders. The BHPA hopes that its participation in the ADS-B Obstruction Beacon trial will provide a means of evaluating how ground-based electronic conspicuity can assist pilots in identifying local areas of high intensity hang gliding and paragliding activity, and will ultimately lead to the development of an effective system allowing all air users to ‘see and avoid’ our comparatively stationary aircraft.“