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Commission's Rules Governing Certain Aviation Ground Station Equipment

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Released: March 24, 2014

Federal Communications Commission

Washington, D.C. 20554
March 24, 2014

DA 14-402

Small Entity Compliance Guide

Report and Order

Amendment of the Commission’s Rules Governing Certain Aviation Ground

Station Equipment

FCC 13-30
WT Docket No. 10-61

This Guide is prepared in accordance with the requirements of Section 212 of
the Small Business Regulatory Enforcement Fairness Act of 1996. It is intended
to help small entities—small businesses, small organizations (non-profits), and
small governmental jurisdictions—comply with the new rules adopted in the
above-referenced FCC rulemaking docket(s). This Guide is not intended to
replace the rules and, therefore, final authority rests solely with the rules.
Although we have attempted to cover all parts of the rules that might be
especially important to small entities, the coverage may not be exhaustive. This
Guide may, perhaps, not apply in a particular situation based upon the
circumstances, and the FCC retains the discretion to adopt approaches on a
case-by-case basis that may differ from this Guide, where appropriate. Any
decisions regarding a particular small entity will be based on the statute and
regulations.

In any civil or administrative action against a small entity for a violation of
rules, the content of the Small Entity Compliance Guide may be considered as
evidence of the reasonableness or appropriateness of proposed fines, penalties or
damages. Interested parties are free to file comments regarding this Guide and
the appropriateness of its application to a particular situation; the FCC will
consider whether the recommendations or interpretations in the Guide are
appropriate in that situation. The FCC may decide to revise this Guide without
public notice to reflect changes in the FCC’s approach to implementing a rule,
or to clarify or update the text of the Guide. Direct your comments and
recommendations, or calls for further assistance, to the FCC’s Consumer
Center:

1-888-CALL-FCC (1-888-225-5322)

TTY: 1-888-TELL-FCC (1-888-835-5322)

Fax: 1-866-418-0232

fccinfo@fcc.gov

TABLE OF CONTENTS

I.

OBJECTIVES OF THE PROCEEDING........................................................................................... 3
II. REGULATIONS AND POLICIES THAT THE COMMISSION ADOPTED OR

MODIFIED, INCLUDING COMPLIANCE REQUIREMENTS ................................................... 3
A. Vehicle Squitters ............................................................................................................................ 3

B. Audio Visual Warning Systems (AVWS)..................................................................................... 4
C. Aircraft Data Link Test Equipment............................................................................................. 4


III. RECORDKEEPING AND OTHER COMPLIANCE REQUIREMENTS..................................... 5
IV. WEBLINK ............................................................................................................................................ 5


2

I.

OBJECTIVES OF THE PROCEEDING

In the Report and Order in WT Docket No. 10-61, the Commission took action to authorize new
ground station technologies that will promote aviation safety. The rules adopted in this Report and Order
are intended to ensure that the Commission’s Part 87 rules governing the Aviation Radio Service remain
up to date and continue to further the Commission’s goals of accommodating new technologies, facilitate
aeronautical spectrum efficiency and use effectiveness, avoid unnecessary regulation, and, above all,
enhance flight safety.
The Commission amended Part 87 of the Commission’s Rules to allow the use of frequency 1090
MHz by aeronautical utility mobile stations for airport surface detection equipment, commonly referred to
as vehicle “squitters,”1 to help reduce collisions between aircraft and airport ground vehicles. In addition,
the Commission established service rules for audio visual warning systems to help aircraft in flight avoid
antenna structures and other obstacles and adopted rules to permit ground testing of aviation data link
systems.
The benefits of the rule changes adopted in this Report and Order outweigh any potential costs.
The rules will promote aviation safety by allowing the use of frequency 1090 MHz by aeronautical utility
mobile stations for airport surface detection equipment. The rules will also help aircraft in flight avoid
antenna structures and other obstacles. In addition, the rules will benefit the public by ensuring the
reliability of aviation data link test systems and thereby enhancing aviation safety. These rules do not
impose new obligations on any licensee or prospective licensee. Rather, they give licensees new options
to enhance the safety and reliability of their aviation-related operations. In light of the substantial public
safety benefits associated with these rules and the costs and burdens they impose, such as the costs that
may be incurred in coordinating with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) or the aeronautical
enroute licensee, the Commission determined that the benefits outweighed the potential costs.

II.

REGULATIONS AND POLICIES THAT THE COMMISSION ADOPTED OR
MODIFIED, INCLUDING COMPLIANCE REQUIREMENTS

In the Report and Order the Commission took the following actions:

Amended Part 87 of the Commission’s Rules to allow the use of frequency 1090 MHz by
aeronautical utility mobile stations for airport surface detection equipment, commonly
referred to as vehicle “squitters”;

Established service rules for audio visual warning systems to help aircraft in flight avoid
antenna structures and other obstacles;

Adopted rules to permit aviation data link system ground testing.

A.

Vehicle Squitters

The Commission concluded that permitting the use of frequency 1090 MHz by vehicle squitters
to facilitate tracking of ground vehicle movements on the airport surface will further the public interest.
Rules adopted will enhance the safety of airline passengers and airport workers, and reduce the costs
associated with runway incursions (including direct costs due to collision damage and indirect costs such

1 “Squitter” refers to random output pulses from a transponder caused by ambient noise or by an intentional random
triggering system, but not by the interrogation pulses.
3

as delay, plane changes, and fuel inefficiencies), without causing harmful interference to other uses of the
frequency.
The Commission will coordinate FCC-filed applications with the FAA through the National
Telecommunications and Information Administration’s Interdepartment Radio Advisory Committee
(IRAC). Before filing, however, prospective applicants themselves will be required to pre-coordinate
with the relevant FAA Regional Office. (FAA Regional Offices are listed at
http://www.faa.gov/about/office_org/headquarters_offices/arc/ro_center/">http://www.faa.gov/about/office_org/headquarters_offices/arc/ro_center/.) Pre-coordination will expedite
the licensing process. Vehicle squitters will be licensed as aeronautical mobility stations (station class of
MOU), which by the Commission’s rules are limited to operation in the airport movement area.

B.

Audio Visual Warning Systems (AVWS)

An AVWS is an integrated air hazard notification system that activates obstruction lighting and
transmits audible warnings to aircraft on a potential collision course with an obstacle such as a power line,
wind turbine, or tower. The Commission concluded that allowing the owners of antenna structure and
other aviation obstacles to use AVWS stations to help aircraft avoid potential collisions will benefit the
public by enhancing aviation safety, without causing harmful interference to other communications.
Other potential benefits of AVWS include lower energy consumption, reduced light pollution, and
increased migratory bird population protection.
An AVWS includes a radar unit and a radio capable of transmitting in the VHF aeronautical band
(118-136 MHz). When the radar unit detects an aircraft in a pre-defined warning zone, the AVWS
activates an obstruction lighting visual warning. If the aircraft continues into a second warning zone, the
VHF radio transmits an audible warning. The radar unit and the VHF transmitter will be licensed under a
single Part 87 authorization, as a form of radio determination station. The 1300-1350 MHz radar band
will be available for AVWS use. With respect to the VHF transmitter, the Commission will permit
AVWS operation only on aeronautical advisory (unicom) frequencies, multicom frequencies, aviation
support frequencies 123.300 MHz and 123.500 MHz, and air-to-air frequencies 122.75 MHz and 123.025
MHz. The Commission will coordinate FCC-filed applications with the FAA through the IRAC.
The Commission concluded that requiring automatic monitoring of the lighting of AVWS-
equipped structures could impose unnecessary costs with no commensurate benefit. AVWS equipment
monitoring requires monitoring obstacle light activation components: the radar and the radar-to-lights
communication link as well as the monitoring of the lighting system itself. However, an owner that
believes that it can visually monitor an AVWS-equipped antenna structure’s lighting without automatic
monitoring (such as by flying an aircraft into the warning zone every day) may do so to comply with
Section 17.47. However, regardless of how an antenna structure owner carries out its inspections, the
owner is responsible if the lights fail to function.

C.

Aircraft Data Link Test Equipment

Aviation data link systems transmit data automatically between ground personnel and aircraft, but
the Commission’s rules did not authorize the use of equipment to test aircraft data link systems. In the
Report and Order, the Commission concluded that licensing the ground testing of aviation data link test
(DLT) systems will benefit the public by ensuring the reliability of these test systems, and will enhance
aviation safety. Because aviation data link systems operate on aeronautical enroute frequencies,
applicants must obtain consent to operate from Aviation Spectrum Resources, Inc. (ASRI), which is the
exclusive aeronautical enroute service licensee, prior to filing an application with the Commission. The
Commission concluded that DLT station applications will not be coordinated with the FAA.
4

III.

RECORDKEEPING AND OTHER COMPLIANCE REQUIREMENTS

Some of the rules adopted in the Report and Order may affect small businesses that manufacture
aviation radio equipment, if they choose to manufacture any of the new ground station technologies
authorized by the rule changes in the Report and Order. Also, the rule changes adopted in the Report and
Order
will require manufacturers to meet certain criteria, and for potential licensees to operate the
equipment as prescribed in the Rules, including prior coordination with the FAA and ASRI. The other final
rules will have no significant effect on the compliance burdens of regulatees. The Report and Order
requires DLT system applicants to coordinate with the aeronautical enroute licensee for the frequencies
on which the DLT applicant proposes to operate. This requirement affects small and large companies
equally. The compliance requirement is no greater than the requirement to coordinate with the FAA
applications to operate analogous radio navigation land test system equipment.
The Commission believes that the Report and Order does not impose any significant additional
reporting, recordkeeping, or other compliance requirements on small entities. The rules adopted in the
Report and Order authorize new ground station technologies that will promote the overriding issue of
aviation safety.
For details of other compliance requirements refer to the Report and Order.

IV.

WEBLINK

The Report and Order, FCC 13-30, was adopted February 28, 2013 and released March 1, 2013.
Final rules adopted in the Report and Order are effective on November 4, 2013.
http://hraunfoss.fcc.gov/edocs_public/attachmatch/FCC-13-30A1.doc">http://hraunfoss.fcc.gov/edocs_public/attachmatch/FCC-13-30A1.doc
http://hraunfoss.fcc.gov/edocs_public/attachmatch/FCC-13-30A1.pdf">http://hraunfoss.fcc.gov/edocs_public/attachmatch/FCC-13-30A1.pdf
http://hraunfoss.fcc.gov/edocs_public/attachmatch/FCC-13-30A1.txt">http://hraunfoss.fcc.gov/edocs_public/attachmatch/FCC-13-30A1.txt
For further information, contact Tim Maguire, Wireless Telecommunications Bureau, (202) 418-
2155, tim.maguire@fcc.gov.
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Document Outline


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