This article first appeared in the December 1971 Flight Test News.

AIMS is an acronym for Air Traffic Control Radar Beacon System (ATCRBS), Identification Friend or Foe (IFF), and Mark XII Systems. ATCRBS is used to provide reporting (Mode C and 4069 codes, identification and position reporting (Mode 3/A)) to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and military ground stations. IFF is a general class of “L” band equipment which provides range, azimuth, and identity of aircraft to ground stations. The Mark XII system is capable of operating on Mode 4 (crypto, secure mode, military only).

On 29 April 1965 the FAA notified the public of plans for the development and improvement of the National Aerospace System and alerted users to proposed airborne equipment requirements. The proposal discussed, among other items, the ATCRBS requirements. An FAA Notice of 5 March 1969 stated that by 1 January 1973 all aircraft operating in controlled airspace at and above 10,000 feet mean sea level, and in terminal airspace within which transponders are required, must have ATCRBS installed.

There are approximately 60 models of Navy aircraft which must be tested and evaluated for AIMS compatibility. Two or three aircraft of each model are required for approximately three weeks each for testing. All Navy AIMS test and evaluation is conducted at the Naval Air Test Center, Patuxent River, Maryland, under the direction of the Naval Air Systems Command.

The testing involves two basic types: (1) Pre-AIMS testing is required to determine the static pressure position errors of the basic aircraft without AIMS equipment, and (2) Post-AIMS testing to investigate the ability of the AIMS installation to perform within the AIMS specifications under aspects of the aircraft operating envelope. In order to retrofit all necessary aircraft by the deadline of 1 January 1973, the test and evaluation of all Navy aircraft was to be completed by 1 January 1972.

With the advent of more and more air traffic in our National airspace, it is imperative that tighter control be maintained to insure the safety of air travelers. Some of the benefits to be derived from the AIMS concept are:

(1) Enhance safety due to increased flexibility and reliability of aircraft identification and tracking;
(2) Improve safety by automatically displaying aircraft altitude to the controller;
(3) Reduce volume of communications between controller and pilots;
(4) Improve utilization of airspace by providing controllers with continuous altitude data on climbing or descending aircraft;
(5) Increase the effectiveness of the air traffic controller by permitting him greater selectivity in viewing targets in or near the airspace under his jurisdiction; and
(6) Reduce the number of advisories and traffic avoidance vectors required in the provision of radar traffic information and vectoring service.

This article first appeared in the December 1971 Flight Test News.

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