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FLARM

Old 19th Nov 2017, 14:50
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FLARM

I thought it might be useful as people are talking about collision avoidance systems to give you my experience of FLARM

I have installed FLARM and also I am ADS-B out. This is just my experience of GA aircraft.

I have a Eurostar which has good visibility but on many occasions I have had alarms about other transponder equipped aircraft sometimes behind me or ahead which I had not yet seen.

With ADS-B out - (which is very cheap to install if you have a gps cost me just 12 for a cable but the process with the LAA and BMAA is currently too complicated needing access to a PilotAware system) other systems can see you for example PilotAware.

With FLARM if the other transponder equipped aircraft has Mode C it will also tell me if the aircraft is above, below or at the same level. Also it computes a rough distance from me and then lets me know if the source is getting closer or moving away. If the other aircraft is ADS-B out (which some are) it shows me where to look for the other aircraft.

It is a bit expensive but very cheap if it saves you once. Much cheaper than a funeral. After a years use I would recommend it and something like this should be mandated for GA as FLARM is in many worldwide gliding environments.
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Old 19th Nov 2017, 17:55
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Got PowerFLARM over two years ago and agree with most of what you say.

Will get ADS-B out as soon as I get a Mode S transponder.

Despite this, and big improvements in PilotAware, I think the long best long term solution is ADS-B in/out.
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Old 21st Nov 2017, 16:30
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I'm sure it's been discussed before, but I would find it very helpful if someone knowledgeable could post an update explaining what systems are available today. I'm particularly interested in portable devices as I rent rather than own these days. My searches so far seem to suggest upwards of 2k for the Powerflarm portable device, around 150 for the Pilotaware system and a project called openflarm. Like many I suspect, I would want something which could integrate with Skydemon on my iPad. Thanks..

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Old 21st Nov 2017, 18:08
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We have a problem in the UK right now.

There are...

- FLARM & PowerFLARM (about 1800 systems in use)
- PilotAware (1500-2000 systems in use)
- Various ADS-B / Mode-S based systems, one of which (about 50 units) is about to be trialled by FASVIG, and this of course co-ordinates with TCAS in airliners, which is universal in large aeroplanes.

The fundamental problem is that these three protocols are, largely incompatible with each other. This is really not helpful.

This was discussed at the RAeS light aviation conference on Monday, and I must admit I was rather shocked at the level of anger between at least two of the delegates about the lack of co-ordination between these teams and systems. There was some hope by the end of the day that the three might actually sit down, perhaps under the RAeS umbrella, and try and work towards an end point of a single universally agreed, granddaughter system that will give everybody a single system they can buy into.

All of these systems are good, with varying strengths and weaknesses - but having three basic systems is a silly position to be in.

G
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Old 21st Nov 2017, 18:55
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But they are performing different roles.

FLARM is designed with glider collision avoidance in mind. It has a short range but includes parameters to aid collision detection.

ADS-B over 1090 is designed for ATM applications, and has a much greater power/range than the others, as it operates on a protected aviation band.

PilotAware is by far the lowest cost system, which has strongly supported its adoption (which is, after all, key to winning any standards battle).
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Old 21st Nov 2017, 19:03
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I have Power Flarm Portable feeding SkyDemon on an ipad mini. It gives me the benefit of both Head up and head down displays. The head up display is I think very important as there is too much temptation to go head down for an extended period.
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Old 21st Nov 2017, 19:04
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In my view...

We need agreement on a single system or full compatibility across all systems.

We need legislation to make the carriage of a working, switched on unit in EVERY airborne vehicle, including gliders and paramotors absolutely mandatory. NO bimbling about in your non-electric Cub or SSDR etc without being fully visible electronically to the rest of the World.

However, are we sure that the carriage of such a system by both aircraft would have prevented the mid-air collisions in the past few years? I'm not so sure...

TOO
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Old 22nd Nov 2017, 07:12
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I've been flying a couple of PowerFlarm-equipped towplanes in Western Canada for the past two years and I'm unimpressed.

A lot of the time it doesn't work - a nearby glider will disappear from the display as the azimuth changes (which I assume is due to antenna issues) and when it does work, there is a tendency to fixate on the display.

My SOP now is to ignore the display, look out of the window for traffic, but be prepared to react if I hear a warning over my headset.
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Old 22nd Nov 2017, 09:32
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Originally Posted by julianwebb View Post
...something like this should be mandated for GA...
The 'M' word!
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Old 22nd Nov 2017, 11:16
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FLARM -

On the question of common system ADS-B works with PowerFlarm and Pilot aware.

If you want either of them to work well you really need to install external antennas the internal ones are really not good enough so if you have PowerFlarm and its not working its the installation you would need to look at not the device or software.

I fully agree the co-ordination is not good but in the end its going to be ADS-B. This is favoured by NATS and the CAA. If you get PowerFlarm or Pilot Aware and ADS-B out we will all be working together as this is what is common to both. Both also work with Skydemon.
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Old 22nd Nov 2017, 14:02
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India 42, are you sure you are expecting the right stuff from Flarm?

It displays threats.
Example: when passing a circling glider, your display should light up when the glider is pointing at you, but should not otherwise.

It ain't radar
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Old 22nd Nov 2017, 16:22
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I42, were external antennae mounted on the C-182?

I suspect an all metal plane needs external antennae on the top and bottom for the PF to be effective.
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Old 22nd Nov 2017, 20:14
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With PowerFLARM portable, I found that FLARM signal transmission strength was improved considerably (as reported on the Kiss Technologies FLARM Range analyzer and SAR info website) by using a separate aerial mounted high up in the cockpit rather than relying on the aerial on the device. Above average signals are reported up to 25km, although there is quite a lot of variation depending on direction. I am sure that an external aerial would be even better.

ADS-B reception is more than adequate with the second device mounted aerial- I regularly detect airliners at more than 20nm range.

However, the same aerial often detects transponder signals (still by far the most common in my experience) very late- I think an external aerial is definitely needed to improve this.

Last edited by Forfoxake; 22nd Nov 2017 at 20:42.
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Old 22nd Nov 2017, 20:40
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Originally Posted by 460 View Post
India 42, are you sure you are expecting the right stuff from Flarm?

It displays threats.
Example: when passing a circling glider, your display should light up when the glider is pointing at you, but should not otherwise.

It ain't radar
And it's not radar you want. Virtual radar displays on Skydemon etc are entertaining but you really do not need to know about all the traffic around you. It's only the ones that might hit you that are important!

That's why I like FLARM/PowerFLARM. FLARM was designed as a collision warning device and if it can help warn gliders in close proximity of imminent collision, PowerFLARM, with it's greater range, must work even better in other aircraft which spend most of their time travelling in straight lines. The display on PowerFLARM portable certainly gets my attention if it bleeps and flashes red but immediately afterwards (and most of the rest of the time) it is crucial to look out. Apart from anything else, there is still lots of traffic without electronic conspicuity.

So I hope that any system based on ADS-B in/out has collision warning algorithms built in and is cheap enough to allow almost everyone (including drones) to fit it.
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Old 22nd Nov 2017, 21:38
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So I hope that any system based on ADS-B in/out has collision warning algorithms built in
That is TCAS-IV. But may not be cheap! But maybe a simplified version could be developed without all the fancy displays and RAs.
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Old 22nd Nov 2017, 22:20
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Drones Using Flarm

The Flarm manufacturer is working with the drone community. Some projects are already using Flarm technology on drones.

At some point in time the air carrier folks might decide that Flarm will significantly reduce the risk of an engine swallowing a drone.

GA will benefit as a Flarm installation is much cheaper and less power hungry than a transponder with approved GPS source
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