A new approach for designing safer collision avoidance systems
January 1, 2012
The Traffic Alert and Collision Avoidance System significantly reduces the risk of mid-air collision and is mandated worldwide on transport aircraft. Engineering the avoidance logic was costly and spanned decades. The development followed an iterative process where the logic was specified using pseudocode, evaluated in simulation, and revised based on performance against a set of metrics. Modifying the logic is difficult because the pseudocode contains many heuristic rules that interact in complex ways. With the introduction of next-generation air traffic control procedures and surveillance systems, the logic will require significant revision to prevent unnecessary alerts. Recent work has explored an approach for designing collision avoidance systems that will shorten the development cycle, improve maintainability, and enhance safety with fewer false alerts. The approach involves computationally deriving optimized logic from encounter models and performance metrics. This paper outlines the approach and discusses the anticipated impact on development, safety, and operation.