A team led by ITT Corp. is the winner of a contract to develop the Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast (ADS-B) system nationwide.
ADS-B, dubbed the future of air traffic control by FAA officials, is expected to enhance safety by using signals from the Global Navigation Satellite System to pinpoint air traffic.
“This signals a new era of air traffic control,” said FAA Deputy Administrator Bobby Sturgell.
The ITT team, which includes partners AT&T, Thales North America, WSI, SAIC, PriceWaterhouseCoopers, Aerospace Engineering, Sunhillo, Comsearch, MCS of Tampa, Pragmatics, Washington Consulting Group, Aviation Communications and Surveillance Systems, Sandia Aerospace and NCR Corp., beat out Lockheed Martin and Raytheon for the contract.
During the first phase of the contract, worth $207 million over the next three years, ITT will build ADS-B ground stations across the nation. ITT, which is required to have the system ready by 2010 and have nationwide coverage by 2013, will own and operate the system. The FAA will pay subscription charges for ADS-B broadcasts transmitted to aircraft and ATC facilities. Potential value of the contract is $1.8 billion through 2025.
Along with air traffic displays, ADS-B also gives pilots weather information, terrain maps and flight information, including temporary flight restrictions and notices to airmen. ADS-B, which is nearly 10 times more accurate than radar, will allow controllers and pilots to know the precise location of aircraft, resulting in more direct flight routes and airspace efficiency, as well as reduced delays and improved safety, according to FAA officials.
The initial ADS-B program, dubbed Capstone, has been in place in Alaska for five years. FAA officials say it has helped cut accident rates by 47%.
The roll out will continue in Alaska, and then move to other sites, including the Gulf of Mexico, which has substantial commercial and helicopter traffic; Louisville, Ky., the home of UPS, which already has outfitted its fleet of planes for ADS-B; and Philadelphia, which will be the first major urban center on the system.
Airplanes will need to be equipped to receive ADS-B transmissions. GA pilots have until 2020 to equip their planes. A notice of proposed rule making is expected to be released soon, with the final rule expected to be released in 2009.
“I realize that cost is a concern, and we hear you,” outgoing FAA Administrator Marion Blakey told an AirVenture crowd this summer. “But spending money on new equipment this time around reminds me of a similar argument when the Mode C transponder rule came out a few years back. That generated some controversy as well, and people predicted the end of GA as we know it. But in the end, the sky didn’t fall, and it won’t here with ADS-B. In fact, it’s going to deliver tremendous benefits.”
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