Air Transport World

Equipping for FANS. (FANS technology)

The pace of industry adoption of FANS technology has accelerated from a walk to a trot. By the end of next year, certificated FANS avionics packages will be avail able for both production line and retrofit on many, if not all, of the principal air craft types in service, especially long-haul aircraft.

Avionics manufacturers are confident about new production aircraft. Most will have the ability to achieve FANS-level performance quickly as they roll off the production line, and with the absolute certainty of FANS' becoming the standard during their useful lives, new airplanes are certain to be equipped, sooner or later. The retrofit market is what has them puzzled. That it will be big, they are sure. But the great variety of pressures at work on that market makes them uncertain about exactly how big it will be and a key element of that calculation is how many narrowbodies get retrofitted to fly into the FANS future.

The pace of airline equipage to date has been tied closely to the ability of the ground-based air-traffic-management system to provide FANS services. That airline trot toward FANS will become a fully developed gallop when civil aviation authorities as sure that they are committed to upgrading both long-haul and domestic airspace to FANS standards, capable of providing the economic benefits that carriers are demanding before opening their wallets.

Avionics experts believe that every opening of an airspace to FANS flights inspires ATC providers of adjoining airspaces to upgrade to recapture revenue lost from the diversion of traffic to the more efficient airspace, creating a domino effect to push a substantial percentage of the key air routes into the world of FANS.

But there are other motivations for choosing to equip with one of the numerous navigation, communication and traffic-control technologies that make up the suite of avionics advances known collectively as FANS. Bob Ellis, marketing manager-CNS/ATN systems at Rockwell Collins Air Transport Div., says: "We can see an acceleration in the interest of carriers over last 3-4 months. Their initial focus was on the FANS routes over the Pacific and new equipment running on those routes. The business case a carrier builds [to support FANS acquisition] is highly specific not only to aircraft type but to the routes they are flying on."

In the long-haul markets, "the change in the last few months is the extension of the FANS routes across India, which has added an amount of interest from some of the European carriers in equipping some of their classics fleet that was not even envisioned in anyone's business case six months ago. …

Log in to your account to read this article – and millions more.