The FAA has approved funding to continue the automatic dependent surveillance-broadcast (ADS-B) network rollout through 2020, the year that aircraft will be required to have ADS-B Out capability to broadcast their GPS-derived position to controllers on the ground. But the agency has put off until 2013 a decision on funding trials of ADS-B In, the ability to display nearby air traffic in the cockpit.
The FAA’s investment review board, known as the Joint Resources Council (JRC), recently approved $560 million to fund the ADS-B ground network deployment from 2014 to 2020, said Vincent “Vinny” Capezzuto, FAA director of surveillance and broadcast services. This adds to $1.4 billion the JRC approved in 2006 and 2007 investment decisions to support the first seven years of the program. The FAA awarded a contract to ITT (now ITT Exelis) in August 2007 to begin installing 794 ADS-B ground radio stations nationwide. “From my position, this was a big decision for the FAA. It demonstrates the commitment” to the program, Capezzuto said June 6, speaking at the RTCA Symposium in Washington, D.C. “We established with the industry that we would put the infrastructure in place [before anyone has] equipment on their aircraft.”
The agency has mandated that aircraft operators equip for ADS-B Out by 2020. But a follow-on requirement for ADS-B In was sidetracked when an aviation rulemaking committee (ARC) recommended last fall that the investment by airline and general aviation operators cannot currently be justified. After consulting with Boeing and Airbus, the ADS-B In ARC estimated that airlines would have to spend between $130,000 and $290,000 to forward fit and between $270,000 and $425,000 to retrofit each aircraft for the capability. The JRC has instructed the ADS-B program to return in 2013 to apply for funding of ADS-B In operational trials. Those trials will inform the development of minimum operational performance standards that guide avionics designers and manufacturers in building the necessary equipment.
The JRC is requiring “a more mature business case,” Capezzuto said. “We needed to get this a little more solidified with a stronger strategy.”
Meanwhile, the ground network rollout continues apace. Under the original contract, the radio station network is to be completed by late next year. Capezzuto said funding through 2020 will support a small expansion of the network in the Gulf of Mexico and the provision of in-trail procedures, an ADS-B In application, by the FAA’s oceanic ATC automation platform. “We’re at about $900 million in expenditures at this point,” he said. “We’ve put in a large piece of the infrastructure. That includes all radio infrastructure hooked up to all automation systems, and including training for controllers and technicians and certification methodologies. That’s a big piece of the puzzle.”