Taxi!

From 2006 pilots could use an electronic moving airport map rather than paper versions to find their route to the arrival gate and avoid the risk of a runway incursion.

Today, pilots and co-pilots have to work together to take information from air traffic control and use handheld maps to navigate through runways and taxiways as other aircraft are landing, taking off and taxiing.

Major airports can be complex in layout, adding to the possibility of confusion and the danger of taking a wrong turn. With the arrival of the A340-600 and the forthcoming A380, aircraft are also becoming larger, making ground manoeuvring more difficult, according to European civilian aircraft manufacturer Airbus.

The firm, part of the EADS group, is developing an electronic moving map that will operate through an aircraft’s navigation display, planned for deployment in 2006.

The company decided to develop the map display, called Taxi Driver, five years ago, according to Yves Saint-Upery, head of cockpit engineering operations. ‘The user can zoom in and out and can centre the map on his or her aircraft. The map will also orientate to the direction the aircraft is going. The user can identify their destination with a flag symbol and then manoeuvre the aircraft toward it.’

A database of European and major US airports has already been compiled usingaerial photography and satellite images.

Official government data has been added to the maps for runway and taxiway designations, while discussions have been held on US and European standards for the maps. The maps will have three levels of accuracy – low, or 10m resolution; medium, or 5m resolution; and high, 1m resolution.

Airbus hopes to add functions including object/aircraft detection, hazard avoidance, air traffic control instruction reception and the identification of other aircraft traffic.

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