Assessing the Capability of Distance Measuring Equipment (DME) to Support Future Air Traffic Capacity

Sherman C. Lo and Per Enge

Peer Reviewed

Abstract: Alternative position, navigation, and timing (APNT) systems are needed by aviation to maintain operations for prolonged periods during an absence of Global Positioning System (GPS) service. This is especially important in the future as the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Next Generation Air Transportation System (NextGen) utilizes GPS to efficiently handle the anticipated twofold increase in air traffic over the next 15 years. Thus, an APNT system must be able to support the full capacity of future airspace. One candidate APNT system is distance measuring equipment (DME). Since DME has capacity limits, it is important to understand these limits and how they may be increased. This paper models DME capacity and uses the model to examine potential means of improving capacity. Results indicate that increasing DME station reply rate reduces availability for avionics at the current minimum operational performance standards (MOPS). However, with reasonable MOPS changes, DME could support anticipated air traffic levels.
Published in: NAVIGATION: Journal of the Institute of Navigation, Volume 59, Number 4
Pages: 249 - 261
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