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Volume 14,Issue 3 Autumn 2012

The best test tool for ATC radar


Intersoft Electronics NV started its activities as an engineering company in 1983. IE product-line covers a wide spectrum of instruments supporting radar engineers in the complete quality assessment of primary and secondary surveillance radars and ADS-B equipment. IE retains a long list of users from all over the world, including CAA, FAA, Eurocontrol, as well as radar manufacturers (EADS, Raytheon, Lockheed Martin, etc…)
As an integral part of Air Traffic Management (ATM), radar positional data constitutes the principal means of surveillance of aircraft for the safe and efficient execution of air traffic control. The performance characteristics of the radar sensors used in air traffic control play a major role in the way separation standards are applied to aircraft within controlled airspace. The establishment of a performance monitoring program to comprehensively assess the quality of these surveillance systems is critical in the provision of safe and efficient air traffic control services. The maintenance of these systems, as well as the acceptance of equipment after new installation, deployment of equipment or refurbishment of parts, requires precise tools. Up to now, maintenance has been relied mainly on standard RF equipment, such as spectrum analyzers, power meters, scopes, etc. But IE Engineers develops and produces a wide range of high-tech quality control tools for radar testing. RASS-R - Real Time Monitoring (RASS level 1) A RASS Level 1 analysis provides near real time monitoring of key radar quality parameters on a 24/7 basis. Key performance parameters are monitored through trend analysis to ensure correct operation of a sensor. By monitoring performance trends it is possible to provide early detection of system degradation before system failure occurs. These analyses are completed through the use of the RASS-R family of COTS products. Real time monitoring is commenced on a radar sensor only after the sensor’s baseline performance has been established. RASS-S - Sensor Baseline Campaign (RASS level 2) A RASS Level 2 campaign provides a detailed technical analysis of the performance of the individual sub-systems that comprise the radar system. This analysis will result in definition of the sensors coverage capabilities and operational performance capabilities and/or limitations against established standards or requirements. The level 2 campaign is conducted using the RASS-S family of COTS hardware and software components. A baseline campaign can identify the reasons for possible performance degradation of a radar sensor. The baseline campaign also provides the ability to test the efficacy of the radar sensor’s optimization. Special Campaigns (RASS level 3) A RASS Level 3 campaign can be a single or multiple series of special tests designed to assess a radar system at a deeper level than the tests conducted in a sensor baseline campaign. These tests are typically conducted during Factory Acceptance Testing (FAT) or Site Acceptance Testing (SAT). A special campaign can also be used to assess the readiness of a radar sensor for flight inspection by injecting MSSR or PSR targets and comparing the results while the radar is working in its full operational state. Level 3 campaigns are made using the RASS-S family of equipment as well as specialist COTS equipment such as the Radar Environment Simulator (RES) and Radar Target Generator (RTG). More than a decade ago, Uniworld introduced the IE RASS system into China. Presently, the Chinese users include CAAC’s ATMB, the 2nd Research Institute of CAAC, East China ATMB and Air China. During the past decade, IE’s radar testing technology have been applied into the China ATC market and made a lot of excellent performance. It is worth mentioning that at Sichuan earthquake on May 12th, 2008 destroyed a lot of ATC facilities, control towers and a number of important radar equipment of Chengdu Shuangliu International Airport were adversely affected. It is very important to resume the ATC capabilities, for restoring the airport operation, securing the relief materials’ transpiration, and evacuating the retained travelers, which was also a tough task for the ATC department. The structure of radar system is very complex and hard to maintain, and there was no time for requesting the help from the manufacturer. So the ATC experts tried to use the standard RF equipment, i.e. spectrum analyses, power meters, scopes and etc., but the testing period would take too long and a number of tests were totally different from the technical manual. At the time of being on thorns, the engineers from the 2nd Research Institute brought the RASS-S to the site, which imported from IE. RASS-S system is a third party product independent from the radar manufacturer. It can be operated smoothly in different radar format, testing each components of the radar in a quick method, and recording and replaying all the radar signals. It also can check the radar from top to down, from the antenna to the transmission and then to the Interrogator and finally to the processor to complete the whole and overall analysis. It only took two days for them to complete the emergency check and test of the radars in Mumashan and Shuangliang Airport. It correctly judged the basic function of the radars, and quickly put them into ATC services, to secure the transpiration tasks for earthquake relief. At the new era, IE’s mission of providing a safer ATC operation environment would not change, and they will keep on making great effects for the technology renovation.

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