Nats Aware - GPS Airspace Warning unit.

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John Brady
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Post by John Brady » Sat Jan 16, 2010 10:45 am

Just wanted to say in response to an earlier post that the Airspace Aware map update process brings all the chart airspace data up to date every 28 days which is better than the 1/2 mil update rate. It is true that if someone builds a new motorway or coastal erosion changes the shape of Norfolk then you will need to buy a basic chart update. But for the purpose this device is intended for, having all the airspace boundaries updated (in 3D) every 28 days will do the biz.

And where someone in another post was decrying the NATS for not doing more sooner; I think this is an imaginative and bold move in which NATS has splashed out a considerable sum to develop and produce this excellent device for you and me and I have nothing but praise for them for doing it.

Of note the head of safety at NATS under whose leadership this project was delivered has just moved on and is now the director, Safety Regulation Group at the CAA.

John

steveneale
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Post by steveneale » Sat Jan 16, 2010 5:39 pm

Dave Hall wrote:Re Brian Hope's response, I did question it publicly exactly because there did seem to be doubt at the Strut meeting, which certainly went against my understanding and practise.

Interesting point. The discussion at our meeting was whether there is legal requirement to carry a paper chart as well as an electronic version. I'm not advocating people don't carry paper but if, like this new GPS, a electronic version is on-board then that would appear to satisfy CAP393.

CAP393 (2010) says:

"(2) Maps, charts, codes and other documents and navigational equipment necessary, in addition to
any other equipment required under this Order, for the intended flight of the aircraft including any
diversion which may reasonably be expected."

I does not say the chart has to be paper.

Steve

Brian Hope
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Post by Brian Hope » Sun Jan 17, 2010 10:53 am

Steve, I would hope that commonsense answers the question of whether a paper chart is necessary, and the legal argument therefore becomes completely irrelevant. It is nothing short of idiotic not to have a paper chart when flying cross country.

steveneale
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Post by steveneale » Sun Jan 17, 2010 8:01 pm

Twas just one of those strut discussions on the legality ignoring all other factors (like common sense).

Steve

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Bob F
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Post by Bob F » Sun Jan 17, 2010 8:02 pm

Common sense & Luddites are being confused in this thread. I, for one, would not like to try & convince a CAA legal eagle that a GPS was a "Chart". But even if you convince yourself that it is, when it goes U/S, you are definitely illegal. More chance of leniency if you said your paper chart blew out of the storm window than your GPS failed! GPS is fine but why not have a back up system to it that you can rely on?
Bob Farrell
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Nigel Hitchman
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Post by Nigel Hitchman » Sun Jan 17, 2010 8:11 pm

Yes, Id say you certainly still want to have a paper chart. Although maybe you can zoom out to see an entire route, I would have thought it would be much easier and better to be able to look at the entire route on a paper chart, to give you a good overview. And still keep your "finger on the map" as you go along, while backing it up looking at the GPS.

Interestingly the "rules" as quoted by Steve dont actually say you must have any kind of chart- just what is "necessary" for the intended flight. If I know the way, then legally, I dont need any chart paper or electronic, although I certainly wouldnt set off without one!

sounds like a great device from NATS. Does it just give your position and show the chart pictorially, or can you input routes, or GOTO etc.
It will be interesting to see how it copes with the very cluttered airspace where one bit of controlled airspace overlaps another and requires detailed studying of the charts to actaully see which bits you can fly through!

John Brady
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Post by John Brady » Sun Jan 17, 2010 8:36 pm

Nigel,

full details and a comparison of options can be found here

The unit is now available to buy and the only feedback I have so far is that it works as advertised but there is a paucity of instructions on how to operate the navigation upgrade.

John

Richard Mole
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Post by Richard Mole » Tue Jan 19, 2010 2:04 pm

It sounds very good value for money and well suited to its primary purpose for advising the pilot about UK airspace and waring against unintended airspace intrusions. I have ordered one and hope to explore its capabilities when weather permits.

Meanwhile I have a dumb question; does the unit have any use beyond the UK geographical or airspace limits? Put another way, does the airspace data base include any European airspace such as any LFRR or LFFF airspace details for the bits of the French coastal strip shown on the Southern England 1/2 million chart? If so it would really help with avoiding Penly, Paluel & Le Havre nuclear electricity stations for example!
Richard

MikeGodsell
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Post by MikeGodsell » Tue Jan 19, 2010 7:27 pm

Thats it, I am convinced, now my family know what to buy for my birthday! :D
Only one other item on my wish list.. a stand-alone digital compass that never lies, especially in turbulence. I saw one on a yacht but it was a bit big for an aircraft.

Simon Ring
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Post by Simon Ring » Fri Jan 22, 2010 11:00 pm

What is the latest regarding delivery times? I have ordered mine and await delivery.

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Post by IanTadd » Sat Jan 23, 2010 4:12 pm

I agree with Dave Halls point regarding the integration of paper and digital data, buying a package of both makes a lot of sense from the safety-redundancy perspective.

From another perspective this device sets a new value for money standard for GPS navigation. I think we should remember this is only the mk1 and I am sure functionality will be expanded and modified as feedback from pilots is received.

I also believe it dispels the myth held by some that NATS are institutionally anti the pleasure pilot. A considerable effort and expense must have been made by NATS to bring this to market at a price that I consider to be nothing short of remarkable.

I would go as far as to say that the team/individual behind this should be considered for a CAA General Aviation Safety Award. This award has been recently amended to include those who make a substantial contribution to air safety as well as those who are awarded for their actions during an incident. I think this represents safety at a very low price making widespread take up viable and therefore the potential to make a substantial improvement in safety.


Nominations can be made on line at the CAA website

http://www.caa.co.uk/default.aspx?catid ... geid=11141

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Bob F
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Post by Bob F » Sat Jan 23, 2010 8:46 pm

Ian,

Good points about both NATS & the Safety Award.
Bob Farrell
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NATS General Aviation Lead
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Post by NATS General Aviation Lead » Sun Jan 24, 2010 9:23 pm

Of course I am biased but also incredibly excited to see a simple low cost Airspace Warning Device available to the GA community for the first time. The shared excitement and all round enthusiasm that I have experienced when talking to pilots about the development of this device is only matched by seeing the concept turn into reality thanks to Airbox and NATS.

I have one of the prototype devices running the currently deployed software and the simplicity of the unit is what gets me every time. You switch it on, it shows you where you are, graphically in relation to a 1/2 mil aviation chart and generates alerts in relation to airspace that you are approaching or penetrating, nothing more - nothing less. This presentation is supported by a continuously updated textual description of where you are i.e. "5nms northeast of Fleetlands" . That simple little piece of functionality has generated lots of interest alone. It instantly disarms that situation when a controller asks "What is your current position" as well as continuously providing reassuring orientation that a planned route is indeed being successfully executed.

Ultimately, NATS primary interest in this project is the possibility of seeing the wide-scale deployment of an affordable, simple device which will actually prevent or mitigate the threat posed by airspace infringements.

I look forward to reading everyones experiences with this new and exciting product.

Nigel Hitchman
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Post by Nigel Hitchman » Wed Jan 27, 2010 5:35 pm

I had a look at the Airbox the other day in the AFE shop, this is the same as the NATS one but with the flightplanning software in it and much more expensive. It looks very good for showing your position relative to the airspace and confirming your position. I think it is excellent for that.
However, Im now convinced this cant replace having a paper chart to give you the "big picture", plan you route and look at where you are actually going. I dont see this as a disadvantage as the NATS device should be used to confirm your accurate position and give you the up to date airspace information.
The reason being is that the Airbox or NATS unit looks great when used at a scale similar to the real paper chart, but if you zoom out to give a wider view of your route, the chart doesnt change, it just gets smaller, so you cant read anything and it becomes too cluttered, so for me this view is no good, even compared to my old Pilot III GPS.

This isnt meant to be a criticism as I think based on what Ive seen the NATS unit will do exactly the job its designed to in giving you reliable easy to read position information and airspace information.
So dont throw away your charts yet- you really still need them with this device, but maybe you dont need a new one!

Agree with the idea of NATS getting the safety award for this.
Now when are they going to come up with that portable battery powered mode S transponder for £150 too??

John Wighton
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Post by John Wighton » Thu Feb 11, 2010 3:33 pm

I think NATS has met that challenge. They supply a lifetime update of all 1/2mil charts for life for £150. And you get a (free!) GPS device to read them from. Its the NATS Aware GPS chart viewer - the subject of this post!

The fact you can also use the GPS in your car for navigation, etc etc is a bonus.

How cheap does this thing have to be before people understand it is (almost) a givaway?

I ordered mine last Monday, it arrived on Saturday. 5*****

John Wighton

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