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FAA completes ADS-B NexGen installations nationwide

This map shows the ADS-B coverage for the Continental United States
This map shows the ADS-B coverage for the Continental United States
Courtesy of the FAA

Today the Federal Aviation Administration announced that it has completed the installation of ADS-B nationwide for its NexGen Aircraft Tracking System.

The FAA’s NexGen initiative is an agenda created from the Capstone ADS-B (Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast) Program that was launched in 2001 in Alaska. ADS-B provides real-time tracking in place of slower more costly radar for tracking aircraft.

“The installation of this ultra-high frequency network clears the way for air traffic controllers to begin using ADS-B to separate equipped aircraft nationwide,” according to FAA Administrator Michael Huerta in an April 14 press release. “It will also provide pilots flying aircraft equipped with the proper avionics with traffic information, weather data and other flight information.”

Of the 230 air traffic facilities across the country, 100 are currently using this system to separate traffic. It is expected to be connected and operating at all 230 facilities by 2019. All aircraft operating in controlled airspace must be equipped with ADS-B Out avionics that broadcast the plane’s location, by Jan. 1, 2020.

ADS-B is a more accurate tracking of airplanes and airport vehicles on runways and taxiways, increasing safety and efficiency. The new system significantly improves surveillance capability in areas with geographic challenges like mountains or over water.

Airplanes equipped with ADS-B In, which is not currently mandated, will give pilots information through cockpit displays about location in relation to other aircraft, bad weather and terrain, and temporary flight restrictions.

According to the FAA the operational benefits of ADS-B, each one of the 634 ground stations installed by Exelis of McLean, Va., is substantially smaller than a radar installation – resulting in less impact to the environment and less cost to maintain.

An Alaskan company with over 10-years of ADS-B installation experience has been working on the next phase of ADS-B that will likely capture the world once commercially available.

The company called ADS-B Technologies LLC located at Merrill Field in Anchorage has tested and used a satellite based version of ADS-B that it calls ALAS, ADS-B Link Augmentation System.

Their system will use the Globalstar constellation to complete a Space Based approach to air traffic control, according to the company’s website.

Rob Stapleton can be reached at: robstapleton(at) alaska(dot) net.

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