Support of Helicopter “Free-Flight” Operations in the 1996 Olympics 965632
“Operation Heli-STAR” (Helicopter Short-haul Transportation and Aviation Research)
“An Olympic Moment”
The microcosm of activity surrounding the 1996 Olympic Games provided researchers an opportunity for demonstrating state-of-the art technology in the first large-scale deployment of a prototype digital communication/ navigation/ surveillance system in a confined environment. At the same time it provided an ideal opportunity for transportation officials to showcase the merits of an integrated transportation system in meeting the operational needs to transport time sensitive goods and provide public safety services under a real-world conditions.
Five aeronautical CNS functions using a digital datalink system were chosen for operational flight testing onboard 91 aircraft, most of them helicopters, participating in the Atlanta Short-Haul Transportation System. These included: GPS-based Automatic Dependent Surveillance, Cockpit Display of Traffic Information, Controller-Pilot Communications, Graphical Weather Information (uplink), and Automated Electronic Pilot Reporting (downlink).
Atlanta provided the first opportunity to demonstrate, in an actual operating environment, key datalink functions which would enhance flight safety and situational awareness for the pilot and supplement conventional air traffic control. The knowledge gained from such a large-scale deployment will help system designers in development of a national infrastructure where aircraft would have the ability to navigate autonomously.