Air Traffic Cuban expert reports on Almanac MLAT system performance

14 June 2019

The Russian surveillance system helped investigate the air crash in Havana and the collision of two aircraft in the Cuban sky, and also allowed the airport to continue operating normally during extremely poor weather conditions and jamming (when the radio signal is suppressed by intruder), which disrupted traditional radar. This was reported by Iran Antonio Ormigo Puertas, a leading expert in the field of surveillance in Jose Marti airport, Havana. The Republic of Cuba aeronautical provider delegation arrived in St. Petersburg in the framework of projects development to equip airports with the Almanac MLAT system manufactured by CRTS.

According to Iran Puertas, the surveillance information from the Almanac MLAT system contributed to the two significant incidents investigation. 
“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. 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 analyzed the pilots’ reaction” he said.

A distinctive feature of the Caribbean is thunderstorms and powerful lightning strikes. On such days, many transport infrastructure facilities fail, including vulnerable traditional massive radar. 

“One day in Havana the lightning knocked out two secondary radar at once - the radar that should reserve each other. They are located at a distance of 15 km from each other: one is directly at the airport, the other – on the radar position "Manocal". Havana was left without surveillance. Fortunately, there is an integrated Almanac MLAT system at the airport, which has not suffered from these lightning. Due to high-quality redundancy, the failed stations did not affect the system operation as a whole. It was the source of information for ATC while the radars were being repaired”, I.Puertas said.

The Cuban delegation also confirmed the high efficiency of the Almanac MLAT system in solving the cybersecurity problems in aviation:
“There was a source of interference appeared not far from Havana, at a frequency of 1090 MHz used in civil aviation. These interferences 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.”

Integrated Almanac MLAT system is a network of geographically distributed stations that identifies aircraft and determines 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).

Source Air Traffic