ADS-B Lurches Onto Center Stage

 - November 21, 2006, 10:56 AM

While pilots agree that ADS-B is the next big thing for the National Airspace System, with FAA Administrator Marion Blakey describing it as the “FAA’s moon shot,” its implementation process has puzzled many. When Blakey last week launched the program with $80 million in FY 2007 funds, agency bureaucrats were still seeking go-ahead approval from the FAA’s top-level Joint Resources Council. And air traffic controllers–not pilots–will be the first beneficiaries, using airliner ADS-B “out” signals to augment transponder returns on ATC scopes. Few airline pilots will enjoy ADS-B’s traffic awareness and weather service, since only a small number of airliners are appropriately equipped. The first pilots to enjoy the full benefits of ADS-B will be Gulf of Mexico helicopter crews. General aviation pilots will be able to access the system’s total capabilities as its nationwide implementation proceeds through 2014. Meanwhile, ADS-B returns have been removed from Anchorage ARTCC displays while the FAA and controllers squabble over Capstone Program separation procedures.