LDACS - the new air-to-ground communications standard

LDACS (L-band Digital Aeronautical Communications System)

The new air-to-ground communications standard

Rohde & Schwarz unveils the future with LDACS

LDACS (L-band Digital Aeronautical Communications System) is a new air-to-ground communications standard for air traffic control (ATC) communication system that offers a significant increase in bandwidth. It allows modern IP-based datalink communications, an important technology within the future communications infrastructure for aviation. LDACS offers additional security functionalities and can integrate navigation and surveillance services in addition to ATC communication services (CNS integration).

LDACS is a digital broadband radio link that enables a connection between an aircraft and the terrestrial infrastructure, just like in cellular telephony. This secure, scalable and spectrum efficient data link with embedded navigation capability is the first truly integrated CNS (communications, navigation, and surveillance) system. LDACS is being standardized by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) and first flight tests with Rohde & Schwarz demonstrators have successfully validated LDACS capabilities. Large amounts of data can be exchanged in real time, like flight trajectories or flight plans. This will ultimately enable new ATC concepts like the upcoming four-dimensional (4D) trajectory or business trajectory concept and sectorless flying, both of which bring the environmental benefit of reducing emissions of CO2 and therefore the impact on climate change via optimal routing and lower fuel usage.

Rohde & Schwarz, with its decades of experience in VHF, UHF and HF communications, which are used by aircraft pilots as well as air traffic controllers, is best placed to drive the future of LDACS.

4D trajectory concept – A future concept enabled by LDACS

LDACS is foreseen to enable future air traffic management (ATM) modernization as for example the 4D trajectory concept. This concept connects aircraft and terrestrial infrastructure to optimize trajectory in three dimensions (altitude, latitude and longitude) plus time with real-time exchange of trajectory information between aircraft and air navigation service providers (ANSP). Aircraft are able to automatically adapt their speed and trajectory in-flight to arrive at a given point in space at a time pre-agreed with air traffic control. It is the key to the concept of the future Air Traffic Management (ATM) system being developed by the Single European Sky ATM Research (SESAR) programm, of which Rohde & Schwarz is a very active member.

Sectorless flying – A future concept enabled by LDACS

LDACS is one of the main enablers for future air traffic management (ATM) modernization as for example the sectorless flying concept. This enables en-route ATC without conventional sectors, where one controller will be assigned several aircraft regardless of their location and will guide these aircraft during their entire flight. This will bring a significant increase in capacity and controller efficiency, more flexibility, fewer handovers and enables user-preferred routes.

LDACS flight tests

In partnership with the German Aerospace Center DLR and the German air air navigation service provider, DFS Deutsche Flugsicherung GmbH, Rohde & Schwarz is heavily involved in various German research projects funded by the Federal Ministry of Economics and Technology (BWMi), such as the Aeronautics Research Program LUFO.

In this context, Rohde & Schwarz built LDACS demonstrator devices and carried out flight tests with a DLR test aircraft. The aim was to validate LDACS’ basic functions. These flight tests have proven the capabilities and maturity of LDACS. As part of this research project, Rohde & Schwarz will now implement new, miniaturized demonstrators for both ground and avionics applications. In addition, a ground infrastructure was implemented at three DFS locations, which will serve as a future reference for air-to-ground and ground-to-air interoperability.

Rohde & Schwarz is one of the few manufacturers that is deeply involved in the implementation of both ground and airborne LDACS equipment. For this reason, Rohde & Schwarz can guarantee interoperability in ground and air communications better than any competitor.

Application video: LDACS paves the way to ATM digitalization.

Application video: LDACS paves the way to ATM digitalization

Rohde & Schwarz has been involved in air-to-ground and ground-to-air communications solutions, i.e. the radios that aircraft pilots as well as air traffic control operators use.

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