SWISS trials promising new airborne surveillance system

9 February 2012

SWISS has equipped three of its Airbus A330-300s with a new Airborne Traffic Situational Awareness (ATSAW) system under a pioneering project that is being conducted by EUROCONTROL. SWISS is the first of five participating airlines to use the new system, which provides pilots with additional information on the air traffic in their vicinity. The ATSAW system and the new procedures it permits will enable operators to optimize their flying routes and better avoid turbulence, too. The prime aim of the project at present is to conduct extensive trials of the new system in commercial operation. The first such flight – SWISS’s LX 86 from Zurich to Montreal – departed with the new system aboard on Tuesday 7 February.

SWISS has been selected as one of five carriers worldwide to participate in the ATSAW Pioneer project, which has been initiated by EUROCONTROL. The ultimate aim of the project is to support the deployment of the so-called “ADS-B In” technology on board aircraft. To this end, three SWISS Airbus A330-300s have had the new Airborne Traffic Situational Awareness (ATSAW) system installed.

ATSAW provides pilots with real-time information on aircraft in their vicinity (such as position, aircraft identification, speed and altitude), enabling them to better assess their current airspace situation. The ability to do so should be of particular benefit over the North Atlantic, where it will allow flights to move more frequently to their preferred cruising altitude and thus save fuel. The capability also permits flights to better avoid areas of turbulence en route.

In an initial step, the new ATSAW system is being used aboard three SWISS aircraft. The data collected will then be assessed in order to verify the system’s benefits and support its further deployment in regular commercial service, in coordination with EUROCONTROL and the other project partners.

In participating in the ATSAW project, SWISS is investing its time and resources in further enhancing flight safety, which has always been its paramount concern. The project should also offer additional possibilities for enhancing the efficiency of SWISS’s flight operations and thereby further reducing their carbon dioxide emissions.