The European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) has approved a new auto-pilot / flight-director (AP/FD) traffic alert and collision avoidance system (TCAS) mode for the Airbus A380.

The TCAS scans for, detects and interrogates transponders of other aircraft in nearby airspace. It evaluates and displays traffic information such as distance, bearing and altitude relative to the nearby aircraft on the navigation display.

The system can also calculate other aircraft’s closure rate relative to its own position and generate aural and visual announcements.

The newly approved TCAS mode will ensure further safety in traffic avoidance situations by eliminating the need to switch out of one mode and into another during TCAS manoeuvres.

The AP/FD TCAS mode implements a TCAS vertical guidance feature into the auto flight computer enabling the the auto flight system to control the vertical speed of the aircraft adapted to each acquired TCAS resolution advisory.

With the new mode activated, once a TCAS RA is received the pilot no longer needs to disengage the autopilot or flight director before conducting the TCAS manoeuvres. Also when the aircraft is flown manually without engaging the autopilot, the flight director pitch bar guidance remains active in this AF/PD TCAS mode guiding pilot to fly the TCAS manoeuvre.

The AP/FD TCAS mode will be available for retrofit on other Airbus aircraft.