The research airport Braunschweig-Wolfsburg has a unique sensor system that enables the high-precision surveillance of objects on approach and departure as well as on the ground. This environment allows new procedures and technology to be tested under realistic conditions.
Modern aircraft are capable of following pre-defined flight routes and taxiways precisely and adhering to exact time-related specifications. The problem in this context is position control on the ground.
Aircraft position is often still determined using conventional radar, which is far less precise than modern systems. This is where the sensor system of the research airport Braunschweig comes into play: its autonomous, ground-based systems enable highly precise and reliable surveillance, completely independent of aircraft position reports.
This test platform allows technical systems to be assessed and their benefits in an operational environment to be determined. In particular, this test platform can be used to assess how safety-related procedures and concepts interact based on autonomous systems for pilots and controllers. This would require equivalent navigation equipment in the aircraft and on the ground.
The installations can be adapted to different requirements in a highly flexible manner, and different types of sensors can be added.
Taxiing guidance: The research work of the German Aerospace Center (DLR) has largely shaped the development and standardization of taxiing guidance at airports. At the research airport, the sensor system can be used to gain a traffic overview of the entire airport and to monitor taxi clearances. This also involves work on a "safety network" on the ground that is being researched given the ever rising volume of ground traffic.
Air-ground communication: New air-ground communication procedures are being developed and technically implemented. Particular emphasis is placed on their acceptance by controllers and pilots.
Remote monitoring of airports: The remote monitoring of airports is being assessed and tested, for example in order to control several smaller airports centrally. Braunschweig airport is the first in Germany to have such a camera system.
Operational procedures: New technologies and operational procedures are being developed that have the potential to enhance punctuality without impacting safety. The key to achieving this is by better supporting controllers and pilots.
The sensor system comprises nine multilateration stations (MLAT). They determine an object's position by measuring the time difference of arrival of transmitted signals. The system has a position accuracy of 7.5m on the ground. Two of the sensor stations are located outside the terminal area and are used for the surveillance of approaches and departures up to 40km around the airport. The position accuracy in this case is up to 50m. The position data calculated and transmitted by the aircraft (ADS-B) can also be received and evaluated at the airport. A multicamera system enables all operational areas of the airport to be remotely monitored by video. Digital air-ground communication is possible via the standard VDL2. The airport is equipped with the state-of-the-art satellite-based precision landing system GBAS (Ground Based Augmentation System)for high-precision variable arrival routes.