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Organizations around the globe
are turning to this revolutionary technology.

But what exactly is multilateration? How does it work?

Why are ANSPs and airports increasingly adopting it?
What are its benefits? What about certification? E x e c u t i v e R e f ere n c e G u i d e

E x e c u t i v e R e f ere n c e G u i d e
How will it aid in the transition to ADS-B?
Most importantly, how can it benefit your organization?

This guide was developed to provide an easy-to-read reference

for air traffic management, airport and airline professionals
to answer these questions and more.


d e s i g n e d a n d d i s t r i b u t e d by


w i t h s u p p o rt f r o m

era corporation

Multilateration - noun: In an effort to increase

efficiency, streamline
1. Locating an object by computing operations, minimize
the Time Difference of Arrival infrastructure costs and,
(TDOA) of a signal to three or most importantly, improve
more receivers.
safety, many ANSPs
2. Method of delivering are turning away
next-generation from traditional
surveillance today. radars and
looking toward
a different technology:
Global air traffic is increasing at multilateration.
an exponential pace. Within
the next decade, the But what exactly is
amount of passengers multilateration?
that take to the already How does it
crowded skies will work? Why
double. More passengers are ANSPs
mean more planes. Air and airports
travel, however, is already increasingly adopting
plagued with delays. it? What are its benefits?
What about certification?
Air Navigation Service Providers How will it aid in the
(ANSPs) are responsible for not transition to ADS-B? Most
only the safe passage of the ever importantly, how can it
expanding grid of air traffic, but benefit your organization?
the efficiency as well. ANSPs
have come to the undeniable This book is aimed at
realization that radar simply answering these and other
cannot keep up with the questions in the most
growing demand. straightforward fashion to

Table of Contents
3110 45AD05
Introduction: Radar ......................................................................................... 4 280 406
ADS-B ....................................................................................... 6
Multilateration ........................................................................ 8

Chapter 1: Applications of Multilateration 10

Airport Surface ������������������������������������������������������������������� 12

Terminal Area ���������������������������������������������������������������������� 14
Wide Area . ............................................................................ 15
Precision Runway Monitoring ����������������������������������������� 16
Height Monitoring Unit ���������������������������������������������������� 18
Environmental Management............................................. 20
Airport Operations and Revenue Management . .......... 20

Chapter 4: ADS-B and Multilateration 36

Chapter 2: Pioneers of Multilateration 21
Built-in MLAT with ADS-B .............................................. 38
Going Where Radar Cannot ............................................. 22
One System, Many Benefits . ............................................ 24
MLAT’s Future Role . ......................................................... 26 Chapter 5: Benefits of Multilateration 40

Cost ���������������������������������������������������������������������������������������� 40
Chapter 3: Worldwide Adoption of Multilateration 28
Performance . ........................................................................ 41
Operational Availability . ................................................... 42
China . ................................................................................... 30
Network Expansion . ........................................................... 44
Austria . ................................................................................. 30
Cross-Border Coverage ...................................................... 46
USA ........................................................................................ 31
Environmental Impact ������������������������������������������������������� 47
Australia . ............................................................................... 32
Canada ................................................................................... 32
North Sea .............................................................................. 33 Appendix: Further Reading and Resources . ...................................... 48
New Zealand ........................................................................ 33
Certification . ....................................................................... 34

2 multilateration: executive reference guide table of contents 3

Radar As the SSR antenna continues SSR has seen many refinements
“Traditional radar
rotating, once every 4 – 12 over the past 50 years, since its
seconds, each aircraft will development for civil use from technology will not be
In today’s world, the vast majority
of all air traffic monitoring is carried continue to be interrogated military technology. However, able to fully support very
out by ground based Secondary and will reply on each the technology remains just advanced ATM concept
Surveillance Radars (sometimes consecutive sweep, allowing that, technology developed
their targets to progressively during World War II. Many feel
called Secondary Radars, or SSRs)
and aircraft based radar transponders. move across the controller’s that its further development
screen in small “jumps.” is limited, and its inherently
Heribert Lafferton
SSRs use a continuously rotating and Dr. Roland Mallwitz
antenna that “sweeps” the The screen also displays the high acquisition, installation
Surveillance Transition Scenario
surrounding airspace with a narrow local airways and terminal and maintenance costs are
for German Airspace,
beam that transmits “interrogation” areas, thereby allowing the substantial. There are also
DFS Deutsche Flugsicherung GmbH
signals. When the beam sweeps past controller to ensure that all severe coverage and capacity
an aircraft, its transponder sends back aircraft are keeping to their limitations resulting from line of
a coded “reply,” which contains the assigned routes, altitudes site issues due to terrain
aircraft’s identification, altitude and, and speeds. obstacles, such as mountains
depending on the transponder type, and buildings.
SSR antennas rotate once every
additional coded information. 300 4-12 seconds, receiving replies from
200 aircraft with Mode A, C and S
By knowing the direction of the 100 Mode A/C/S transponders.
FT 333

radar’s antenna when it sweeps 23.66

past an aircraft, and by measuring FT 2212

Mode A/C/S
FT 564

the time between the radar’s

interrogation signal going out and

the aircraft transponder’s reply 200

being received, the radar’s computer 300

establishes the aircraft’s direction Interrogation

and distance from the radar. This
information, plus the individual
aircraft’s reply data, is sent to the air
traffic controller’s display screen,
where it appears as a “target,” with
Mode A/C/S
an accompanying identification Response
“tag” with its individual data.

4 multilateration: executive reference guide introduction 5

ADS-B One of the main reasons
that ADS-B will not be fully
Automatic Dependent Surveillance- GNSS implemented for many years
Broadcast (ADS-B) will be a is the expensive cost of
key element of future air traffic equipping aircraft with all of
management systems, such as the essential avionics to both
Europe’s SESAR and the United transmit and receive ADS-B
States’ NextGen program. However, information. As such, there
its widespread implementation will be an extremely slow
is not expected until sometime transition period complicated
between 2020 and 2025. by the fact that ADS-B and radar
use very different technology.
Unlike the current surveillance Fortunately, there is a
technique, where a ground-based technology that is able to decode
radar transmits “interrogating” Broadcast both traditional radar avionics
signals and uses the “replies” from and ADS-B.
aircraft transponders to determine
location, ADS-B equipped aircraft
will broadcast their GNSS positions
once per second. The information “The essence of
received by air traffic controllers,
and other ADS-B aircraft, includes
multilateration is that
the aircraft’s identification, altitude, it provides an elegant
speed, velocity, projected path and transition to ADS-B by
other useful information.
With ADS-B, an aircraft’s using the same ground
ADS-B data will be received by
position is detected by GNSS and infrastructure, while
broadcast along with other data,
dedicated ground receivers, which
such as path, heading, and speed,
providing early benefits
will immediately pass them to the through improved
to ground stations, which decode
controllers’ screens at the nearest
air traffic control center. In turn, the
and transmit the information surveillance.”
to ATC automation systems for
control center will be able to uplink
weather and other data to aircraft
display on the screens of air traffic Michael Harrison
controllers. Editor, ATCA Journal of
via the ground station’s transmitter. Air Traffic Control

6 multilateration: executive reference guide introduction 7

Multilateration ( MLAT ) These units listen for “replies,” Furthermore, while the radar “Multilateration offers
typically to interrogation signals and multilateration “targets” on
Multilateration is a proven transmitted from a local SSR or a controller’s screen are identical
ANSPs the possibility
technology that has been in a multilateration station. Since in appearance, the very high of providing a
use for many decades. It was individual aircraft will be at update rate of the multilateration- surveillance service
developed for military purposes different distances from each of derived targets makes them
to accurately locate aircraft —
at a potentially much
the ground stations, their replies instantly recognizable by their
many of which did not wish to will be received by each station at smooth movement across the lower cost, greater
be “seen” — by using a method fractionally different times. Using screen. A screen displaying reliability and higher
known as Time Difference of advanced computer processing multilateration information can levels of accuracy than
Arrival (TDOA). techniques, these individual time be set to update as fast as every
differences allow an aircraft’s second, compared with the 4 - 12
conventional SSR.”
Multilateration employs a position to be precisely calculated. second position “jumps” of the
number of ground stations, radar-derived targets. Alexander ter Kuile
which are placed in strategic CANSO Secretary General
Multilateration requires no
locations around an airport, its additional avionics equipment, as
local terminal area or a wider area it uses replies from Mode A, C and
that covers the larger surrounding S transponders, as well as military
airspace. IFF and ADS-B transponders.

AA 220
X, Y, Z

MLAT in Action
MLAT ground stations
receive replies from all y
aircraft, including legacy
radar and ADS-B avionics,
and determine aircraft
position based on the
time difference of arrival
(TDOA) of the x
replies. Mode A/C/S Mode A/C/S Reply, TDOA Hyperbolic
Interrogation ADS-B, IFF Processing Positioning

8 multilateration: executive reference guide introduction 9

1 Applications
of Multilateration
Multilateration has introduced Furthermore, future surveillance
a completely new way of changes that are required to
thinking about meeting the accommodate new approach,
needs of ANSPs to upgrade, departure or over flight procedures Airport Surface Terminal Area Wide Area
expand or create new areas of can be readily and inexpensively
airspace surveillance. In the achieved by the addition of the
past, the requirement to cover system’s small, unmanned and
a given airspace could only be easily installed sensor stations.
1000 m
considered in terms of traditional
SSR performance, where the This extreme flexibility allows
system’s limitations often called a totally different planning
for compromises in coverage, approach to traditional, radar-
Precision Runway Height Monitoring
the need for additional “gap based airspace reconfiguration. Monitoring Unit
filling” installations or limitations In a radar environment, the
on where aircraft could safely controlling factor in airspace
maneuver. With multilateration, changes has always been to
those limitations no longer apply. restrict any desired changes to
those that can either remain
Multilateration’s unique ability with the fixed coverage of the
to be precisely “tailored” to established SSR, or those that
completely meet the coverage will require major investment in Environmental Airport Operations &
requirements for a wide range relocating the radar or acquiring Management Revenue Management
of applications has resulted in additional units.
the elimination of surveillance
gaps. This has been coupled with Multilateration can therefore
equivalent — and often superior be seen as not only a tool to
Any multilateration This allows for
— performance over SSR increase airspace utilization and
ground station can be used greater cost savings
throughout the covered area, at a operational efficiency, but as also
for multiple applications. and expansion capabilities.
significantly lower cost. offering significant economic
benefits and flexibility.

10 multilateration: executive reference guide applications of multilateration 11

Airport Surface The addition of strategically Copenhagen Airport
positioned multilateration
While the multilateration Copenhagen Airport’s A-SMGCS
stations provides ground
fuses highly accurate position and
concept was originally developed controllers with a clear view identification data from MLAT
for military air surveillance of every “hidden” area of the ground stations and vehicle
purposes, one of its earliest civil airport surface, with greatly tracking units with SMR data.
aviation applications was in the enhanced accuracy and
monitoring of aircraft movements improved target discrimination,
on the airport’s surface. Today, regardless of the weather
S 47801A
6017 S A481AB

multilateration is a vital element conditions. 6005 S 478387

623 S 456E47V 0477 S 4A983
of Advanced Surface Movement 4073 S 45091
0000 S 45B64C
Guidance and Control Systems Unlike SMR, multilateration 4134 S 45AC32
0000 S 47 833B
(A-SMGCS), which are currently also provides unique 0000 S 47 922B
being deployed at many of the identification of all aircraft — 6001 S 45872

world’s major airports. and not just a “blob” — and

stops tags from jumping from Airplane
Prior to the introduction of Vehicle
one target to another as they
multilateration, airport surface would get near each other. 0260 S 478011

surveillance was performed by

radar — called either Airport Another benefit is that small
Surface Detection Equipment squitter devices, with unique
(ASDE) or Surface Movement identification codes, can be
Radar (SMR) — with its rapidly mounted on surface vehicles
6001 S 45B425
rotating antenna typically and fully integrated into the
mounted above the control A-SMGCS.
tower for optimum view of the Advanced Surface
airport surface. However, it was Multilateration-supported Movement Guidance
quickly realized that the radar’s A-SMGCS installations are in and Control Systems
line of sight was blocked by the very wide use at major airports (A-SMGCS)
large airport terminal buildings, around the world, and have
hangars and other obstacles, A-SMGCS platforms utilizing multilateration
made a major contribution
preventing its view of many have become the industry standard at the world’s busiest airports
to the reduction in
critical movement areas. Heavy to reduce the increasing risk of runway incursions as operations grow and
runway incursion
rain was also found to severely surface congestion increases. MLAT expands coverage areas, identifies aircraft,
affect SMR performance. tracks vehicles and maintains performance in all weather conditions.

12 13
Terminal Area One solution for those airports Wide Area Multilateration On the other hand,
could have been the installation multilateration has also been
At a number of airports around of one or more secondary As the need for traffic surveillance chosen in situations where an
the world, lower altitude radars at or near the airport. expands over areas not presently existing “legacy” secondary
operations in the terminal area But economic analyses by covered by conventional radar has had to be replaced.
are restricted by the presence both ANSPs showed there secondary radar, many ANSPs In Armenia, for example, cost
of high terrain, which can block would be substantial cost are taking advantage of the cost and performance analyses
aircraft interrogations from and operational advantages benefits of multilateration versus showed the clear advantages of
nearby secondary radars. In turn, in adopting multilateration new radar installations. multilateration over replacing the
this prevents local controllers surveillance systems. Not only earlier secondary radar, and the
from monitoring terminal area would multilateration be cheaper In wide area multilateration wide area solution was chosen.
traffic below a certain altitude. As in acquisition, installation and (WAM), the stations are spread
a result, such airports experience maintenance, but it would much further apart, at distances In addition, in the North Sea,
high diversion rates in instrument provide optimum terminal area of up to 100 km between each between the UK and northern
weather conditions. coverage and — perhaps equally other. Installations in Tasmania Europe and Scandinavia, the
important — faster and more and the Czech Republic are small, lightweight and low
This was the problem facing accurate tracking down to the typical, but the same economic powered multilateration units
authorities at Innsbruck, airport surface. imperatives have seen wide will be mounted on offshore
Austria and Ostrava in the area installations planned for drilling platforms to provide
Czech Republic, for example. Colorado, The North Sea, “better than radar” performance
At Innsbruck, surrounding Taiwan and East Midlands. In down to the surface, in locations
mountains forced the minimum such locations, multilateration where secondary radar would
decision altitude (MDA) to be provides superior range over have been impractical.
3,100 feet above the airport. At secondary radar, more accurate
Ostrava, aircraft were prevented tracking, significantly lower
from descending below 6,000 costs, and significantly earlier
feet due to local high terrain. operational readiness following
contract award.

14 15
Precision Runway Aircraft are then “staggered” However, the system’s acceptance and new zoning legislation are
Monitoring along each approach path with was extremely limited due to its limiting airport expansion and
significant in-trail spacing significant acquisition, installation may force new runways to be built
An important application of between them, greatly reducing and maintenance costs. within existing airport boundaries
multilateration is its proven airport throughput, especially as closely spaced parallels to
ability to provide greater safety during inclement weather While e-scan radars were cost- existing runways to accommodate
while significantly increasing conditions. prohibitive, multilateration has rising future demands.
landing capacity. now been demonstrated to meet
An early solution was the and exceed radar specifications for With such immediate and clear
For airports with parallel runways, introduction of a dedicated, very precision runway monitoring, at economic benefits, multilateration
aircraft fly adjacent paths towards accurate, electronically-scanned substantially lower cost. MLAT PRM systems are expected
their separately assigned runways. radar called the Precision PRM capacity gains have been to increase in the future, with
But at many airports, the runways Runway Monitor (PRM), which reported to be 30 percent or more, systems currently being deployed
are too closely spaced for aircraft allowed adjacent approaches to especially during peak periods at Beijing, Kuala Lumpur, Sydney
to safely fly adjacent to each other runways spaced as close as with adverse weather conditions. and Detroit.
under instrument conditions. 3,300 feet apart.
BA 220
X, Y, Z Further, environmental pressures
BA 5270
X, Y, Z

With PRM System

BA 220
Airports with closely spaced parallels can maintain independent approaches,
X, Y, Z
even during adverse weather conditions, which greatly improves capacity.

BA 220

Without PRM System

X, Y, Z

Airports with closely spaced parallels

must maintain staggered approaches, BA 5270
X, Y, Z

which decreases throughput,

especially during peak periods
and inclement weather.

BA 5270
X, Y, Z

16 17
Height Monitoring Unit However, while all aircraft Multilateration was chosen as the
intending to operate in RVSM best technique to perform this task
“En-route WAM
As high-altitude jet traffic increased airspace were re-equipped to and purpose-built systems were systems can also
by the 1980’s, aircraft capacity meet the new requirement, it installed and are still operating at provide accurate
in the upper airspace became was necessary to initially verify various points around the world.
height measurement
crowded, particularly between and periodically check that the The addition of flight levels at
29,000 feet and 41,000 feet — the new equipment installations the most fuel efficient — and information which
altitude band preferred by airlines were operating within stated thus most popular — cruising is not available from
for fuel economy. However, the tolerances. levels means traffic flows can be MSSR.”
lowered air density above 29,000 more flexible and offer reduced
feet caused traditional pressure MLAT Supports Reduced congestion and fuel consumption. Wide Area Multilateration
altimeters to be less accurate. Vertical Separation to Yield Report on EATMP
While aircraft flying below 29,000 Additional Capacity LA 220
X, Y, Z
feet could be safely separated
vertically by 1,000 feet, aircraft
flying above that altitude were FL400
required to maintain vertical
spacing of 2,000 feet. UA110
X, Y, Z

New altimeter technology FL390

introduced in the 1990’s
produced significant
improvements in altitude BA 1450

measurement and led to the Additional X, Y, Z

p y
worldwide introduction of FL380
Reduced Vertical Separation
Minima (RVSM), which allowed
BA 882
aircraft to be vertically separated X, Y, Z

by the normal 1,000 feet at

altitudes up to 41,000 feet. FL370

Mulilateration-based HMU systems AA 90

have been deployed for RVSM at X, Y, Z

various locations around the globe. FL360

18 multilateration: executive reference guide applications of multilateration 19

Environmental Airport Operations &
Management Revenue Management
Pioneers of
Today, many airports require Airports need to constantly
strict adherence to noise measure and analyze aircraft and Spotlight on (IATCC) in Jenec, just
abatement procedures. However, vehicle movements, as a backup 11 miles (18 km) from Prague,
noise complaints from nearby in any given area on an airport’s are complemented by the
residential areas are a continuing surface can create a domino effect center’s stunningly modern, yet
concern to airport operators, and that cripples an airport’s operation. totally functional, architecture.
In 1995, the government of the
identifying the aircraft which
Czech Republic became one of
caused such complaints is often Multilateration systems provide The Czech ANS prides itself
the earliest administrations in the
difficult. airline and airport personnel on being forward thinking.
world to transfer the responsibilities
with real-time, shared situational They were the first ANSP to
of its air traffic services to a self-
One of the early applications of awareness and tracking that commission a multilateration
governing commercial enterprise
multilateration was to perform supports Collaborative Decision system for surface surveillance
corporation. This entity went on to
this function. The system records Making (CDM) for the planning in 1999. In 2001, the Czech
become the nation’s air navigation
the identification of every and scheduling of airport resources ANS management decided to
service provider (ANSP), known as
arriving and departing aircraft, to improve gate management and leapfrog conventional air traffic
the Czech Air Navigation Service
along with its precise path over orchestrate ramp movements. surveillance solutions and move
the ground, and can show the forward into the future use of
exact time it passed over any Typically, airports have relied multilateration technology.
Today, the Czech ANS operates
point on its path. The recorded on airlines or aircraft to self- This was a pioneering step,
one of the world’s most modern
data have already been accepted report their usage of key revenue since at that time, no civil
air traffic management centers,
as legal evidence in certain generators, such as landing fees, aviation authority had deployed
where controllers employ leading-
jurisdictions. de-icing costs, gate usage, etc. This multilateration for anything
edge technologies to handle
has undoubtedly led to a faulted other than the support of
aircraft movements in some of
As other environmental system, as airports have had no Advanced Surface Movement
the busiest airspace in the world.
regulations come into effect, system to check accuracy, which Guidance and Control Systems
The advanced systems employed
multilateration can provide has in turn led to lost revenue. (A-SMGCS) in monitoring
at its new Integrated ATC Center
airport management with an aircraft and vehicle movements
extremely effective and rapidly Multilateration provides flight on the airport itself.
accessible source of information track and identification data to
on noise, emissions and other automatically produce timely and
flight operations data. accurate invoices.

20 multilateration: executive reference guide 21

Going Where Radar Cannot ANS Director General until his ICAO Annex 10 interrogation and accuracy allowed the CAA
retirement in late 2007, and a 34 and Eurocontrol radar to certify it for 3 NM terminal
The chosen location for the year veteran of Czech aviation surveillance standards. Flight tests traffic separation, rather than
first wide area installation was and air navigation services, put established coverage out to the more typical 5 NM under
Ostrava, the nation’s third busiest it, “We were one of the first to 80 NM, with surveillance down SSRs. No other terminal area
airport. Ostrava was surrounded recognize the potential of this to the Ostrava airport surface. But multilateration system in the
by mountains, which prevented new concept — its technical subsequent testing brought even world has been certified to the
any surveillance coverage below potential — because it provides better news. The system’s stability 3 NM standard.
FL60 (6,000 feet) from the closest very accurate information, which
secondary surveillance radar can be amalgamated with radar
(SSR). Therefore, the airport’s in the system. It was also a very
terminal airspace required aircraft cost efficient solution, and with
to be subject to time-consuming the pressure on reducing the cost
control procedures, which of air traffic management, it was 3351

drastically reduced throughput a system which could help very 3351

and efficiency. In addition, there much.” ~


was a need to improve radar data

reliability in the northeast sector The installation, which was 3354

of the Prague FIR. completed in 2002, consisted 3352

of five receiver stations and two

The conventional solution would interrogators, and included SSR MLAT

have been to install a local SSR, remote control and monitoring

but more detailed analysis of systems at Ostrava. The
the requirement showed that system was type certified
multilateration, which had by the national
not been previously used for Civil Aviation
airspace surveillance, had distinct Authority FL60
advantages. against

Based on intensive evaluations UA 2320

X, Y, Z

undertaken in 1998, ANS officials

determined that multilateration was
the way ahead. As Petr Materna,


22 multilateration: executive reference guide pioneers of multilateration 23

One System, Many Benefits first, to assure that the necessary specified system range of 80 NM Do controllers see any
high accuracy and probability was substantially exceeded, difference on their screens when
Due to their overwhelming of detection would support the with 98 - 99% probability of multilateration switches on? No,
success with multilateration monitoring of approaches on detection as far away as 120 NM according to ANS surveillance
in Ostrava, ANS officials the airport’s planned parallel and demonstrated significant manager Ivan Uhlir. “There is no
launched a program to install runways. Second, it needed to improvement in accuracy and difference,” he states, “between
a much larger multilateration provide the precision, resolution target resolution over the present multilateration and radar from
surveillance network around and low altitude detection of SSR serving the Prague FIR. an operational perspective. The
Prague’s Ruzyne Airport. The all aircraft in the terminal area. controllers have exactly the same
system needed to provide the Third, it had to provide flight As well, the new system had picture.”
full-time surveillance redundancy operating services throughout another advantage. While the
required by Eurocontrol for major the FIR, with a required two conventional radars were By taking this step and
airports. While Prague’s terminal overlap of at least 30 NM with operating, the multilateration supplanting radar with wide
airspace was already served by neighboring countries’ FIRs. receiver stations would continue area multilateration to meet
two SSRs, the new requirement to monitor all traffic in its Eurocontrol’s new terminal
called for continuous operation After extensive feasibility and passive, i.e., non-interrogating, area requirement, the ANS
of two surveillance systems at all cost studies, multilateration surveillance mode. In this set- established yet another world
times, which meant that three was the clear choice and up, the system would provide an first in air traffic management.
surveillance sources had to be installation of the wide area independent, non-radar check
constantly available if any one configuration commenced. of radar performance. However,
of them experienced failure or The MLAT system included 10 should its monitoring of the two
required maintenance. receiver stations, interrogators radars indicate an incipient or
and test transponders, and actual failure of either, it would
Besides meeting the Eurocontrol its surveillance data was fully immediately commence active
mandate, the new system needed integrated into Eurocontrol’s interrogation to assure a seamless
to fulfill three key objectives for ARTAS. Technical testing changeover.
the ANS as well. These were, showed that the originally

Prague-Ruzyne International Airport

The Czech ANS first deployed a surface multilateration system

and later extended the coverage for wide area surveillance.

24 25
MLAT’s Future Role to trans-border system sharing “and I know there are many signs But Jan Klas’s vision goes beyond
by supporting the seamless of interest from other ANSPs.” his country’s immediate borders,
Ivan Uhlir is confident that within surveillance of air traffic between Plans are being developed for and recognizes that Czech ANS
five to seven years, multilateration neighboring states. Second, with a new multilateration network expertise can be applied wherever
systems will reach equality in its extensive experience in the centered on Brno in Czech it could be needed. “There are
surveillance versus traditional application, planning, installation Moravia, which lies along the windows of opportunities in the
SSRs, and will exceed them in and certification of multilateration Austrian border to the south. future where we can promote this
perhaps 10 to 12 years. Plans are systems, the ANS is one of The Brno system is especially technology, not only as a user,
already underway at the ANS to the foremost multilateration necessary, because Austrocontrol but potentially as a partner to
decommission one SSR in the authorities in the world and is intends to decommission its industry.”
center of the country within the ready to offer that expertise to SSR at Buschberg, near Vienna,
next two or three years as a result other ANSPs. that currently provides low level Much has happened with
of linking the Ostrava and Prague surveillance over the south of the multilateration since those
multilateration systems. Jan Klas, the new Director Czech Republic. early days in 1998, when Czech
General of the ANS, is anxious engineers set out to evaluate
However, the Czech ANS is to move ahead on these two “This technology,” says Jan Klas, the possible development and
also looking beyond its borders fronts. “I see great potential “is very supportive of the single application of a former military
for two reasons. First, for multilateration in both sky concept, which is particularly detection system to the equally
multilateration areas,” he says, important in Central Europe, exacting challenge of civil aircraft
lends itself where the airspace is very surveillance. From simple tests ten
perfectly fragmented.” Looking further years ago in a small park outside
ahead, he feels that there Prague, the system has swept
are important operational through the whole spectrum of air
and cost advantages to traffic management applications,
g be gained from cross winning ready acceptance around
border cooperation. “I the world. Yet in the words of
believe it would be very one Czech ANS engineer, “Over
Czech Republic Ostrava
good to share the costs, the past ten years, we have
the service and the probably only begun to realize
MLAT Brno logistics support, which multilateration’s full potential.”
Coverage could be from regional
service centers, rather than
being restricted to within each
Wide Area
nations’ borders.”

26 multilateration: executive reference guide pioneers of multilateration 27

3 Worldwide Adoption which are very different
technically — would be required
of Multilateration to meet identical levels of
The use of multilateration has been “performance-based” standard
growing globally in recent years. applicable to all systems in each
The section closes with a brief
Interestingly, the very nature of of the three CNS groups. Under The global adoption of
description of key aviation
multilateration deployments this new certification approach multilateration is illustrated in
organizations who are currently
around the world, their various to surveillance, for example, the map below with highlighted
developing future performance-
applications and characteristics, multilateration and secondary countries deploying multilateration
based standards for surveillance
underscores the tremendous radar — systems across six continents.
flexibility of the technology.

This section highlights some

unique worldwide applications
of multilateration, and discusses
the specific requirements of each
that the system has
successfully addressed.
This is followed
by a description
of the certification
process used in these
applications to assure
that the performance and safety
levels traditionally applied to
secondary radar are met, and
in many areas exceeded, by
multilateration surveillance systems.

Currently, aviation’s Communications,

Navigation and Surveillance (CNS) systems
are gradually transitioning from the traditional
approach of specifying the precise technical
characteristics of individual systems to a

28 worldwide adoption of multilateration 29

China United States of America

With a new runway under construction to handle the ASDE-X

increased traffic for the 2008 Olympic Games, and parallel
to the Capitol airport’s existing main runways, Beijing airport The US Federal Aviation Administration was an
authorities opted for a multilateration system to provide early adopter of multilateration when it launched
continuous monitoring of the parallel runways when all were its ASDE-X program in 2000. The system fuses returns from a primary
in simultaneous use. The multilateration parallel runway monitor is an surface radar with data from an array of multilateration sensors around an
extension of the airport’s mulitilateration-based A-SMGCS providing airport to provide a complete picture of surface movements. The system
surface surveillance at the airport. is currently being installed at 35 leading US airports, replacing earlier,
non-multilateration radar systems. ASDE-X also incorporates a predictive
multilateration program to alert controllers of potential conflicts between
Austria surface traffic and approaching aircraft.

Surrounded by over 8,000 foot mountains, Austria’s

Innsbruck Airport posed a severe surveillance challenge
to air traffic for controllers monitoring traffic arriving and departing the
Colorado, one of America’s leading winter vacation destinations, has
narrow valley airport. Conventional radar installations on the sides or on
launched a state-wide multilateration program to dramatically increase
top of the mountains were impractical and several units would be required
access to ten mountain airports. Poor radar coverage had imposed 30 NM
to adequately cover the necessary airspace. Austro Control’s solution was
“buffers” between approaching aircraft, resulting in excessive delays and
multilateration, whose small receivers could be inexpensively located in
cancellations. Purchasing traditional radars to adequately cover each
positions inaccessible to large radars to provide fully redundant signal
airport was estimated at $7 million per radar, excluding installation
and maintenance, for a total of $70 million. Small, high accuracy
Innsbruck multilateration stations covering all airports, and bringing 5-mile approach
Airport separations, will total $15 million. Colorado is purchasing the equipment,
with the FAA assuming ownership, operation and maintenance after

30 31
Australia North Sea
When improved air traffic monitoring was required for regional aircraft Maintaining coastal radar surveillance of helicopters flying
flying over the mountainous area between Hobart and Launceston in to and from offshore oilfields is clearly difficult, since the
Tasmania, Airservices Australia assessed multilateration and secondary traffic quickly goes below the radar’s line of sight. As a
radar surveillance options. It is understood that around 12 SSRs would result, both the Netherlands’ LVNL and the UK’s NATS have chosen
have been required to provide the necessary coverage, at a reported average multilateration to monitor traffic supporting the North Sea oilfields in
cost of approximately $3 million per location. Airservices opted for their respective territories. Here, the small multilateration receiver stations
multilateration to provide equivalent coverage over the whole are easily located on the oil platforms themselves, and provide high
route, for what has been unofficially reported as less than the cost accuracy surveillance coverage down to the surface.
of a single radar installation.

New Zealand
Located in the mountainous, fast growing, tourist resort area of
Vancouver’s fjord-like Inner Harbor is home to a large number of private New Zealand’s South Island, the Queenstown airport requires
seaplanes, larger commercial scheduled seaplanes and helicopters, many special high accuracy procedures to guide aircraft on their final
of which arrive and depart below the fight paths of airline jets landing and landing approaches under instrument weather conditions.
taking off from the nearby Vancouver International But first, they must descend around the local mountain range. There,
airport. Radar surveillance was impractical, as the Airways New Zealand has selected a multilateration surveillance network
harbor has mountains on one side and city high to allow air traffic controllers to closely monitor the safe descent flight
rise buildings on the other. Nav Canada chose paths of arriving aircraft prior to their landing approaches and, later, their
multilateration, with tracking accuracy of 25 feet in the departures over the same challenging terrain. “Multilateration provides
heavy traffic areas. “Multilateration has the advantages coverage in difficult terrain areas, which was the basis for Airways’ recent
of high-accuracy coverage that can be tailored, and investment at Queenstown,” said Ashley Smout, CEO
relatively low cost,” said Sid Koslow, Vice President of Airways New Zealand. Queenstown
of Engineering for Nav Canada. “Near-term Airport
applications at Nav Canada include use in difficult
to cover areas and as a supplement to traditional
surface radar.”
Inner Harbor

32 33
Certification So how can multilateration Standards And Recommended the new “performance-based”
be certified for civil Practices (SARPS) expected philosophy, its characteristics
The rapid acceptance of aviation use today? within the next year. Parallel must equal those of secondary
multilateration is unprecedented supporting activities are ongoing surveillance radar. The approach
in the history of air traffic control Essentially, it is because national at Eurocontrol’s Multilateration being taken by ICAO and other
systems. However, it has also regulatory authorities agree that Task Force, Eurocae’s WG70 groups is therefore to develop
had the unprecedented effect of multilateration has demonstrated and at ICAO regional meetings multilateration legislation to
user demand outstripping the that it meets — and in many ways and individual ANSPs. Since bring it into compliance with
pace of traditional aviation rule exceeds — all the certification multilateration’s current and current ICAO secondary radar
making, just as the technology criteria for secondary radar future role is to supplement or standards, reflecting the practice
itself has, in many locations, already specified by ICAO. In replace secondary radar, it has already adopted by national
outstripped the implementation turn, this means that national been accepted that, following regulators.
of more costly, but less efficient, regulators can certify the
traditional aids, like secondary conformance of a multilateration
radar. Organization Description
installation against the established
standards of the radar it is
The good news is that leading intended to replace. In no cases Eurocontrol has established the Multilateration
ANSPs have demonstrated that have multilateration systems been Task Force to coordinate the standardization
it is not necessary to wait for rejected by regulators for non- of multilateration within Europe and ICAO.
traditional aviation rulemaking compliance with ICAO secondary The Task Force brings together all stakeholders
to catch up in order to realize the radar standards. interested in the technology and acts as a platform
benefits of multilateration. They for information exchange. It is engaged in the
have shown that operational Are ICAO Standards standardization of multilateration at the protocol
certification of MLAT-based level (ASTERIX), ICAO level as well with Eurocae.
being updated to formally
applications is readily achievable
recognize multilateration?
today. Because it has been
Eurocae has created the WG 70 working group
repeatedly proven by authorities
Yes. This process is well specifically for wide area multilateration. The
that have certified MLAT
underway in ICAO’s WG 70 is tasked with developing a technical
performance to be equal to or
Aeronautical Surveillance Panel specification for wide area multilateration systems,
better than SSR.
(ASP) and its Separation and covering terminal, en-route and parallel runway
Airspace Safety Panel (SASP), monitoring applications. The WG 70 is made
both staffed by international up of representatives from all major wide area
surveillance specialists, multilateration manufacturers and many ANSPs.
with formal issue of ICAO

34 multilateration: executive reference guide worldwide adoption of multilateration 35

4 ADS-B and
FA 990
X, Y, Z

FA 220
X, Y, Z

In the future ADS-B Four other important ADS-B

environment, today’s secondary considerations also arise.
surveillance radars will essentially First, an installation of a Mode
be decommissioned or become multilateration network, to either
backup systems. ANSPs that have serve a new area of airspace or to
announced ADS-B programs, replace a legacy SSR, will be the
such as Airservices Australia and initial step towards the eventual
the FAA, have also stated their transition to ADS-B. This is MLAT Provides
intention to correspondingly so because the newly installed 100% Coverage Reports
reduce their SSR installations by network can immediately track
Throughout the MLAT
Transition to ADS-B ADS-B and MLAT
as much as 50 percent. early-equipped ADS-B aircraft.

Many ANSPs are also Second, as the transition
considering multilateration as to ADS-B draws closer,
a more economical solution to multilateration sensors can serve
future backup requirements, after as full-featured ADS-B ground
analyzing the continuing costs of stations at significant cost savings.
SSR maintenance, power,
fuel and other expenditures. Third, the already installed

Fleet Equipage
multilateration network can
Another key consideration is perform both essential ADS-B
that multilateration systems backup and validation functions.
have built-in ADS-B capabilities,
with today’s ground-based Finally, the multilateration system
multilateration sensors capable will continue to track non-ADS-B
of tracking aircraft ADS-B traffic throughout and beyond Time 2025+
transmissions as equally effective the authorities’ lengthy expected
as those from Modes A, C, S and transition period, making the Because MLAT is backward compatible with existing SSR transponders and
military IFF transponders. service available at minimal or no forward compatible with ADS-B, it provides full fleet coverage today and in the
additional cost to the ANSP. future — independent of the pace of aircraft equipage.

36 multilateration: executive reference guide ads-b and multilateration 37

Built-in MLAT with ADS-B The multilateration system also MLAT Included with ADS-B “MLAT will be an
acts as a real-time backup for the at No Additional Cost
Even when ANSPs decide to ADS-B surveillance network,
indispensable element
transition “straight to ADS-B,” especially in higher (en-route) 500 NM to facilitate both the
multilateration processing at the elevations, but this can also be transition to ADS-B and
ADS-B ground stations provides easily extended to lower levels 450 NM the operational ADS-B
powerful benefits without and terminal approach. In the
additional costs or infrastructure. event of ADS-B interruptions phase itself.”
400 NM
Given an ADS-B requirement (such as sun spot activity),
for a given number of sites and
Heribert Lafferton
surveillance capabilities can
aerodromes, multilateration
350 NM and Dr. Roland Mallwitz
continue and total operational Surveillance Transition Scenerio
provides a level of redundancy availability is greatly improved. for German Airspace,
300 NM
and validation, ostensibly for DFS Deutsche Flugsicherung GmbH
free with no additional ground While leveraging the same
stations. 250 NM
ground stations means that
multilateration is by definition
The combined multilateration more economical than 200 NM
and ADS-B solution provides a secondary radar redundancy,
number of benefits to ANSPs. the multilateration system’s 150 NM
First, the ANSP can offer performance also makes it
separation services without capable of providing superior 100 NM
mandating or waiting for 100% backup. Importantly, the
ADS-B fleet equipage. update intervals can match 50 NM
or outperform ADS-B
Secondly, the ADS-B position meaning system performance
reports can be validated with the is maintained during outage
simultaneous multilateration on scenarios.
those ADS-B transmissions. This
assists not only in the transition
stage, but also in the long term, Without adding a single ground
where issues of legal liability station to an ADS-B installation,
on ADS-B data are still being MLAT provides additional
discussed globally. coverage area – giving ANSPs ML AT
equipage-independent surveillance,
backup and validation. ADS-B

38 multilateration: executive reference guide ads-b and multilateration 39

5 Benefits Performance
of Multilateration In accordance with the
“performance-based” philosophy
Cost “WAM systems are
“WAM is expected which is currently being developed
by the ICAO working groups potentially capable of
While industry averages vary to reduce
within reasonable ranges, and the complementary activities significantly higher
the life-cycle-cost at Eurocontrol and Eurocae, the
multilateration has proven to accuracies than an
be a dramatically lower cost of ground based performance of multilateration
systems has been regarded by equivalent radar
surveillance solution than acquisition
traditional radar. The analysis national certification agencies as service.”
infrastructure being equal to ICAO secondary
below estimates a total cost of
ownership (TCO) benefit of
systems by about radar standards. However, over a Wide Area Multilateration
Report on EATMP
nearly 5 million euros for a life 20-35% or more.” number of separate evaluations
cycle of 15 years. and in-service operational
Comparative Assessment of measurements, multilateration
SSR vs. Wide Area MLAT, systems have routinely been proven
Comparing Radar & MLAT Eurocontrol
Eurocontrol reported that
to greatly exceed the performance
Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) multilateration greatly
standards of radar in terms of outperformed the accuracy of SSR
accuracy. where coverage existed.
€ 10,000,000

Expected Accuracy in Feet 200 400 600 800 1000 1200 1400

€ 5,000,000
200 200

100 100

Range /NM

Range /NM
Acquisition Annual 15 Year 0

-100 -100
Radar € 2,500,000 € 270,757 € 6,561,355

MLAT -200 -200

€ 1,250,000 € 50,000 € 2,000,000
-200 -100 0 100 200 -200 -100 0 100 200
All prices listed in Euros (€) and are based on reported industry averages. SSR MLAT

40 multilateration: executive reference guide benefits of multilateration 41

Operational Availability Aerial Coverage
Horizontal Coverage
When looking at traditional
radar, it is easy to see that the
maintenance of a multilateration
system is easier and less costly.
For one, a multilateration system
has no moving parts. Secondly,
each sensor is small and easy
to reach. What may seem
less obvious is the dramatic
improvement possible in terms
of operational availability due to
the network architecture of an
Radar Radar
MLAT surveillance system.

Multilateration provides levels

of redundancy that are a direct
result of its network design.
Typically referred to as N-1
redundancy, the basic concept
is that if any single ground
station were to experience an
outage, the coverage would not
degrade as remaining ground
stations continue to provide the
required coverage. Regardless of
whether the outage is a planned Multilateration Multilateration
maintenance task, scheduled
power outage, or an unplanned
models “build-in” various “N-1” redundancy and Radar Coverage
event localized to a site, the
levels of redundancy to achieve system design tools not only MLAT No Coverage
multilateration system is able to
provide continuous operational operational availability and safety allow ANSPs to schedule Site Outage
availability and coverage. requirements. These models can maintenance without any
simulate the outage of one or more coverage degradation, but also A site outage, whether planned
With traditional radar, a power ground stations and the resulting dramatically improve availability
surveillance coverage for each (e.g. maintenance) or unplanned
outage or site maintenance would when things don’t go according
scenario and event combinations. to plan. (e.g. power outage), demonstrates
result in a loss of surveillance
coverage. With multilateration, Multilateration’s network the superior operational availability
sophisticated system design architecture, inherent of multilateration compared to SSR.

42 multilateration: executive reference guide benefits of multilateration 43

Network Expansion accuracy surveillance of With multilateration, the “ATNS considers that
the runway approach paths. system can be expanded
Unlike any air traffic management This configuration can then without any loss of investment.
system before it, multilateration be augmented with sensors Numerous ANSPs have will form an important
supports a very wide range of deployed further from the expanded multilateration part of its surveillance
surveillance applications without airport, where the data can be surface systems for terminal network going forward,
changing its basic equipment directed to controllers handling and en route coverage.
characteristics. The sensor units, incoming and departing traffic as it provides
data processing, communication in the surrounding terminal Such application flexibility a cost effective
links and essential infrastructure airspace. offers significant financial and high performance
remain essentially identical, benefit through minimal
whatever the application. Finally, the identical sensors inventories of sensors and
means of extending
can be installed at much greater support spares, as well as the surveillance services
Multilateration units distances away where they greatly reduced costs of service to areas not previously
supporting A-SMGCS surface can be arrayed in a wide area technician training compared covered.”
surveillance can be expanded configuration to cover en route to radar. And because of single
by the addition of further airspace between airports. unit familiarity, it also offers Wrenelle Stander
sensor units to provide high much faster fault diagnosis ATNS CEO
and repair, should that ever be
MLAT’s Unique Expansion Capability UA 440
X, Y, Z

MLAT’s support for multiple applications and expansion capability gives

ANSPs a powerful ability to leverage investment. Numerous ANSPs around the
world are exploiting this benefit to expand systems — for example, extending UA 440
X, Y, Z
surface coverage for PRM, terminal or en route area coverage.

Surface Precision Runway Terminal En Route

Surveillance Monitoring Surveillance Surveillance

UA 440
X, Y, Z
UA 440
X, Y, Z

10 NM 30 NM 60 NM 200 NM

44 multilateration: executive reference guide benefits of multilateration 45

Cross-Border Coverage As multilateration systems are Environmental Impact Multilateration does not have
progressively adopted worldwide, this same problem, as each
Multilateration systems have been air traffic management planners In today’s world, the sensor can be placed on already
planned and installed by ANSPs in adjacent states can achieve environmental impact of existing structures, such as cell
to provide optimum coverage significant economic benefits machinery and technology is phone towers, building tops,
within the borders of their own by jointly assessing their very closely watched. Resources etc. Multilateration sensors
nations. As occurred often with respective national needs in are finite and anything do not face the environmental
SSR, surveillance coverage order to optimize their future emitting harmful pollution is challenges that plague any radar
often extends to “spill over” into multilateration configurations. understandably scrutinized. site because they are stationary
a neighboring state’s airspace. This not only brings cost savings, More and more ANSPs face and require little power.
However, unlike traditional radar, but can also produce seamless extreme restrictions on where
multilateration’s unique expansion aircraft monitoring across their they can place radars, due to
capability offers the capability of common borders. the footprint that the machine
extending the existing investment takes up, but also because of the
of one ANSP and enabling Extending MLAT enables EM pollution that is created.
cost-sharing and cooperation cost-sharing and cooperation not
models never before possible. possible with traditional radar.

Expanding Cross-Border Existing MLAT Additional MLAT

MLAT Coverage Existing Coverage Expanded Coverage

SSR necessitates a dramatically

larger environmental footprint
with massive power and dedicated
infrastructure vs. MLAT which is
easily placed on existing structures.
Country A
Radar consumes over 200 times
the power (12 kilowatts vs. 50
watts) and weighs over 100 times
Country B (2500 kg vs. 24 kg) as much as an
MLAT ground station.

46 47
Further Reading & Resources
Papers Articles

Wide Area Multilateration, MLAT Systems Gain Ground

Report on EATMP TRS 131/04, Jane’s AIRPORT REVIEW. March,
Version 1.1, Eurocontrol. W.H.L. 2007. Volume 19. Issue 2. Page 20.
Neven, T.J. Quilter, R. Weedon,
and R.A. Hogendoorn. August Multilateration: Radar’s
2005. Replacement? Avionics. Callan
James. April, 2007. Pages 30-34.
Surveillance Transition Scenario
for German Airspace. Results of Multilateration: The Challenges
the DFS ADS-B Study Group. Ahead. Air Traffic Management.
DFS Deutsche Flugsicherung Issue 2, 2007. Pages 26-29.
GmbH. Heribert Lafferton, Dr.
Roland Mallwitz. January 31, Multilateration Technology is Well
2007. Suited to a Wide Range of Applica-
tions. ICAO Journal. Volume 62.
Comparative Assessment of SSR Number 3, 2007. Pages 12-14, 32-33.
vs. Wide Area Multi-Lateration
Eurocontrol. Edition 1.3. Life After Radar. Air Traffic Manage-
September 29, 2005. ment. Issue 2, 2007. Pages 18-24.

Generic Safety Assessment for

ATC Surveillance using Wide Organizations
Area Multilateration. Helios
Technology. Nick McFarlane. Eurocontrol Multilateration Task
Force, www.eurocontrol.int
WAM Safety Study &
Surveillance Generic Safety. Eurocae WG-70: Multillateration
Eurocontrol. Bob Darby. Working Group, www.eurocae.eu
November 9, 2007.
International Civil Aviation
The ATM Target Concept D3. Organization (ICAO), www.icao.int
Eurocontrol. SESAR
Consortium. September 2007. Civil Air Navigation Services Organ-
isation (CANSO), www.canso.org
ATM Deployment Sequence D4.
Eurocontrol. SESAR International Cooperation on
Consortium. 2007. Airport Surveillance, www.icas-

48 multilateration: executive reference guide