ADS-B Program Wins Collier Trophy

 - April 2, 2008, 10:08 AM

The National Aeronautic Association (NAA) has selected the Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast Team of public and private sector groups as the 2007 recipient of the Collier Trophy.

Government and industry leaders who have collaborated for nearly a decade will be honored “for conceptualizing, developing and the initial implementation of automatic dependent surveillance-broadcast, the next-generation performance-based air-ground, ground-air and air-air surveillance system.”

NAA said that ADS-B was the vision of many prestigious aviation organizations and individuals who recognized its potential to dramatically improve the current aviation system and worked tirelessly for its adoption as the first phase of building the Next Generation Air Transportation System (NextGen). Among them are AOPA, the Air Line Pilots Association, the Cargo Airline Association, Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, the FAA, ITT, Lockheed Martin, NASA, Mitre and UPS.

“ADS-B is a ground-breaking effort for next-generation airborne surveillance and cockpit avionics,” noted NAA chairman and Collier Selection Committee chairman Walter Boyne. “Its implementation will have a broad impact on the safety, capacity and efficiency of the National Airspace System.”

The Collier Trophy is awarded annually “for the greatest achievement in aeronautics or astronautics in America, with respect to improving the performance, efficiency and safety of air or space vehicles, the value of which has been thoroughly demonstrated by actual use during the preceding year.” According to NAA, the list of Collier winners represents a timeline of aviation, as many of the awardees mark major events in the history of flight.

Testing NextGen Technology
Transportation Secretary Mary Peters announced at last month’s 33rd annual FAA Aviation Forecast Conference that Florida will begin serving as the testbed for NextGen this summer, with the introduction of ADS-B along the Gulf Coast.

The FAA will be able to install ADS-B ground stations on oil rigs due to a memorandum of agreement (MOA) signed with the Helicopter Association International (HAI), operators and platform companies on May 18, 2006. The FAA will receive valuable space on platforms for ground stations, power, telecommunications and transportation to and from the rigs.

Industry support continues to grow, with 33 entities now signed to the MOA. This includes operators of 96 percent of the helicopters that operate in the Gulf and 50 percent of the offshore platforms.

With approximately 5,500 oil platforms in the Gulf of Mexico, helicopters servicing the rigs fly between 5,000 and 9,000 operations per day. With no radar coverage over the vast area, air traffic controllers use a procedural grid system based on reported– not actual–position.

To keep aircraft safely separated, a significant amount of airspace must be sanitized around each aircraft, severely reducing capacity. At low altitude, individual aircraft are isolated by a 20-mile by 20-mile grid. At high altitudes, commercial aircraft are separated by 100 miles in-trail.

ADS-B will greatly improve the safety and efficiency of aircraft flying over the Gulf. This includes high-altitude commercial aircraft flying between the U.S. and Mexico and helicopters flying at low altitudes to and from oil rigs. By next year, air traffic controllers at the Houston en route center will be separating ADS-B aircraft.

ADS-B is described as the backbone of NextGen. The technology is already showing benefits in Alaska, with a projected 47-percent drop in the fatal accident rate for aircraft equipped with ADS-B in Southeast Alaska.