Aeronautical Service / Flight Tracking

For many years the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Research, Engineering and Development Advisory Committee (REDAC) has researched and tested video-based technology advancements in an effort to produce a reliable Low Cost Ground Surveillance (LCGS) System.

The vision is to use LCGS as a complementary data layer to augment existing tracking systems at commercial airports, or as a low cost “starter system” for airports without any tracking capability at all.

Target tracking can be accomplished using several cooperative and non-cooperative technologies, but is only half the solution. Target classification and identification is the 2nd significant half.

While many systems can display tracked targets, they don’t always know what is being tracked and/or are dependent on cooperation of the tracked target’s sensor for providing an ID.

The Aircraft Tail Number Identification System (ATNIS) is an independent non-cooperative sensor to detect, classify and identify airfield targets being tracked by other systems. The data can be a critical layer of information within the Airport Operational Database (AODB) and Aircraft Flight Information Display Systems (FIDS).

In 2011, TTI and Exelis demonstrated the fusion of tracking, ID and display capabilities. It was the first time non-cooperative aircraft ID data was fused with a tracking system and displayed live.

Tracking Projections on Geo-Referenced Map

Tracking Projections on Geo-Referenced Map web

TTI E-WASP Data Fusion with Exelis Symphony

TTI-Exelis Symphony Data Fusion web

As part of the test, several independent tracking sensors (cameras) were used to create overlapping views of a GA airport/airfield, to simulate the non-movement areas of commercial airports. The addition of a tracking capability was coined E-WASP (Enhanced WASP).


While E-WASP cameras were used to detect and track targets via their GPS coordinates, ATNIS cameras were used at two locations within the overlapping tracking zones to classify targets as aircraft, vehicle or person and identify aircraft by their registration number.

The test demonstrated the ability to classify targets and “tag” aircraft with their tail number ID and successfully “hand off” targets between tracking zones.

It also demonstrated the ability to update display data and re-acquire lost tracks based on constant analysis of the data feeds, such as an updated aircraft ID with a higher associated value of percent confidence reading or identifying previously unknown tracks.

The results showed the reliability and accuracy of the ATNIS sensors and the ability to augment existing commercial airport systems.

By using a layered approach of information systems, commercial airports and ASP’s can improve airport services by maintaining classification and identification of aircraft from gate to gate.

TTI E-WASP displays location of Tracked Targets and ID of Aircaft

TTI-Exelis Fusion of Tracking and ID web

Exelis Symphony displays location of Tracked Targets and ID of Aircaft

Symphony View of KLHZ with Tracks web