Experimental validation of PALM - a system for precise aircraft location
April 29, 1975
MIT Lincoln Laboratory Report TN-1975-29
A ground based system to precisely locate aircraft in three dimensions based on transponder replies has been designed. Field tests have been conducted to validate the design of the elevation performance. This document reports on the principle of operation, experimental hardware and field test of the Precision Altitude and Landing Monitor (PALM). The key features incorporated in the PALM design include: (a) no new avionics required, i.e., uses standard aircraft transponder; (b) high accuracy position data, i.e., a 1-mrad (0.06 degree) rms error in elevation and in azimuth; (c) broad airspace coverage, e.g., 40 degrees in elevation, 120 degrees in azimuth (expandable to 360 degrees) and several 10s of miles in range; and (d) low life cycle equipment cost. The high accuracy in the difficult airport multipath environment is a direct result of (a) newly developed antenna synthesis procedure, (b) the development of adaptive multipath suppression techniques, and (c) the use of digital signal processing. The program, to date, has focused on an experimental evaluation of the elevation performance. The electronics required for the tests have been built into a self-powered van to facilitate experiments at remote airports. The actual flight test data demonstrated experimental errors on the order of 1 mrad; moreover, as predicted by theory, the resulting errors were essentially independent of elevation angle. Potential applications for the PALM position data include parallel approach monitoring, independent altitude monitoring, and/or performance assurance monitoring of landing guidance systems.