Cuban expert reports on Almanac MLAT system performance

CRTS’ Almanac MLAT system has proved its performance as surveillance contingency solution, according to a surveillance expert.

The Russian multilateration surveillance system also helped support the investigation of an air accident in Havana and the collision of two aircraft over Cuban airspace in addition to providing contingency when radio signals were unlawfully jammed which disrupted traditional radar operations.

This was reported by Iran Antonio Ormigo Puertas, a surveillance expert at Jose Marti airport, Havana who was a member of a delegation sent from the Republic of Cuba aeronautical provider visiting St Petersburg  to discuss the Almanac MLAT system manufactured by CRTS.

According to Iran Puertas, the surveillance information from the Almanac MLAT system contributed to the two significant investigations.

“The first is the air crash in Havana, all the information about the last minutes was taken from the Almanac MLAT system. The Americans, who investigated the incident, praised the quality of information. The second incident, fortunately, was averted when a Venezuelan aircraft almost collided at 19,000 feet with another aircraft. For the investigation, we took information from the MLAT system. We saw how TCAS (Traffic alert and Collision Avoidance System) worked and analysed the pilots’ reaction,” he said.

Caribbean is characterised by thunderstorms and powerful lightning strikes which can impact transport infrastructure such as traditional radar installations.

“One day in Havana the lightning knocked out two secondary radars at once including the contingency radar that should serve as a back-up. They are located at a distance of 15 km from each other: one is based at the airport, the other – on the radar position Manocal.”

“Havana was left without surveillance. Fortunately, there was an integrated Almanac MLAT system at the airport, which did not suffer from the lightning. Due to high quality redundancy, the failed radar stations did not affect the system operation as a whole as the Almanac system acted as the source of ATC information while the radars were being repaired,” Puertas said.

The Cuban delegation also confirmed the high performance of the Almanac MLAT system in solving the cyber security problems in aviation:

“There was a source of interference appeared not far from Havana, at a frequency of 1090 MHz used in civil aviation. This interference caused the radar to become “blind” in one of the directions and no longer provide surveillance information. At the same time, the MLAT system worked normally.”

The integrated Almanac MLAT system is a network of geographically distributed surveillance stations that identify aircraft and determine their exact location by the mathematical method of real-time triangulation. The system is an independent means of air traffic monitoring and effectively solves the problems of cyber threats, such as jamming (signal suppression by radio interference) and spoofing (simulation of false objects).