Trials of ground-based ADS-B ‘obstruction beacons’ commenced in August at gliding sites around the UK. When activated, pilots flying with suitable equipment will see a real-time warning that gliding activities, such as winch-launching, are taking place. The trials are being supported by uAvionix, which is providing purpose-built powered obstruction beacons that are being placed at thirteen gliding sites throughout Britain. The sites will be shown when operational on any Electronic Flight Bag (EFB) with an ADS-B IN device, such as uAvionix skyEcho2 and ForeFlight Sentry.

The obstruction beacons will broadcast only when flying activities are underway
at the participating club sites. The project will be active until 31 October 2022. Stuart Lindsey, Head of Airspace Modernisation Strategy at the CAA, said, “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. Pete Stratten, CEO of the British Gliding Association, added, “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 half-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.”

The trial is part of the CAA’s Airspace Modernisation Strategy, as the authority looks for ways to alleviate the risks of overflying winch launch sites, and other similar threats, by using the 978Mhz spectrum. This is frequently used in America as a secondary ADS-B frequency and for Traffic Information System Broadcast (TIS-B) and Flight Information System – Broadcast (FIS-B).

Image: Keith Wilson