The FAA has issued a notice of proposed rule making that spells out initial equipment requirements for the Next Generation of air traffic control.
The proposal would require all aircraft flying in the nation’s busiest airspace to have satellite-based avionics by 2020, enabling controllers to track them using Automatic Dependent Surveillance Broadcast (ADS-B), which is 10 times more accurate than current radar technology, according to FAA officials. Similar to transponder requirements, aircraft would need ADS-B to fly above 10,000 feet msl or within Class B or C terminal airspace. Aircraft not flying in controlled airspace would not be required to have ADS-B avionics, but FAA officials predict that pilots “may choose to do so in order to realize the safety benefits.”
“Aviation must take the big step into the next generation of technology,” said Acting FAA Administrator Bobby Sturgell. “It’s safer and more accurate. Satellite technology is here to stay.”
ADS-B allows air traffic controllers to reduce separation standards between aircraft, significantly increasing the number of aircraft that can be managed safely in the nation’s skies, FAA officials say.
Under a contract awarded to ITT Corp. last month, ground stations for the new system will be brought online across the country, starting in the East Coast, portions of the Midwest, Alaska and the Gulf of Mexico. Nationwide coverage is expected by 2013. Pilots viewing ADS-B cockpit displays will be able to see, in real time, their locations in relation to other aircraft, bad weather and terrain. In Southwest Alaska, where the technology was first tested in the Capstone program, the fatal accident rate dropped 47%.
Released Oct. 2, the NPRM mentions two kinds of ADS-B: “ADS-B out,” which would act similarly to a transponder, where aircraft location and altitude information would be sent out once per second. Aircraft owners would have to install a display at an additional cost to receive the “ADS-B in” service, which would provide weather and traffic data to the pilot.
The proposed rule is open to public comment for 90 days, and is scheduled to become final by late 2009.