Use of the Phrase “Autonomous Airborne Devices”

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Use of the Phrase “Autonomous Airborne Devices”

35TH ANNUAL CONFERENCE, Tunis, Tunisia, 15-19 April 1996

WP No. 114

Use of the Phrase “Autonomous Airborne Devices”


The current IFATCA policy regarding ACAS has been developed from 1973 , through the development of Beacon Collision Avoidance System (BCAS) to the present day Traffic Collision Avoidance System (TCAS).

The SICASP/5 meeting held in 1993 identified a requirement to consider proposals for other uses of ACAS. It was decided to delegate this task to Working Group/2 who in turn formed a dedicated sub group to consider the concept of an Airborne Separation Assurance System (ASAS).


The current policy states:

“Autonomous airborne devices should not be a consideration in the provision of adequate air traffic services”.


This statement inhibits full participation by IFATCA in the SICASP WG2 discussions on ASAS therefore this paper proposes an amendment to overcome this difficulty.

The development of ASAS and the use of TCAS technology in association with other technologies, to provide identification , positional information etc., is currently taking place. It remains paramount for IFATCA policy to state that TCAS is an independent system and to be used only as a last ditch safety net and must be separate from other autonomous airborne devices.

The current policy statement:

“Autonomous airborne devices should not be a consideration in the provision of adequate air traffic services”


will prevent the IFATCA representative in the SICASP WG 2 from full and positive participation in the discussion regarding ASAS, as the policy is quite specific regarding any airborne device.

The pressure from various interests to achieve early cost benefit from large investment in such developments as TCAS will encourage aggressive development for other uses for which it was not originally intended. IFATCA has a vital role to ensure that the controllers’ interests are protected by participating in developments such as ASAS. Also, it should be noted that our participation is regarded as highly important in these forums.


There is evidence that the current policy denies a flexible approach by the representatives in various forums. Retaining current policy, could be seen as an inflexible approach by IFATCA, and deny future involvement. The representatives will not be able to influence the decisions taken with regard to ASAS.


The last phrase in the current policy be amended by the deletion of “Autonomous airborne” and replaced with “TCAS”.

Last Update: September 28, 2020  

December 24, 2019   608   Jean-Francois Lepage    1996    

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