The air-traffic community gathered in the Netherlands last month to discuss the continually evolving options for modernizing ATC. The process is both helped and hindered by technologies that don’t seem to stand still long enough for decisions to endure, but the participants are learning to keep up with this rapid pace of advancement and deal with the slowly gelling cultures of Europe’s main players.
Automatic dependent surveillance-broadcast
Ten days before the January 20 Presidential inauguration, the FAA issued a six-page national security flight advisory describing airspace restrictions surrounding the event.
The FAA’s Alaska Region this year will assess the suitability of a communications satellite system with an unusual history to supplement its Capstone automatic dependent surveillance-broadcast (ADS-B) project.
When the idea was initially being explored a number of years ago, FAA planners saw a use for automatic dependent surveillance-broadcast (ADS-B) only in Alaska, where the technology would allow aircraft operating beyond the reach of radar to develop their own position data using onboard GPS equipment, and then transmit that data to others in the region through either a microwave satellite uplink and downlink or ground-based VHF network.
Last month, FAA COO Russell Chew told a standing-room-only audience at the annual conference of the U.S. Air Traffic Control Association that a widening gap between the falling income and rising expenses of the agency’s Air Traffic Organization (ATO) could reach a cumulative $8.2 billion over the next five years and he said the FAA must take positive actions to close this gap.
Few navigation systems have experienced the ups and downs of loran as they sought recognition. In December, a UK agency said the system is an essential back-up to GPS; the same month the FAA rejected it for the same purpose and an independent group of U.S. experts unanimously endorsed the system as a backup.
The promise of ADS-B is well known by now: provide quality surveillance at a lower cost than conventional radar and improve situational awareness in the cockpit, thereby reducing the number of accidents or incidents–such as runway incursions–in the air and on the ground.
At the FAA’s two-day New Technology Workshop last month, the focus was sharply on the Next Generation Air Transportation System (NGATS). The key enablers to get there, according to Nick Sabatini, FAA associate administrator for aviation safety, will be “performance-based” navigation and Internet-like access to critical information such as near real-time weather.
The FAA is preparing a notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM) to require automatic dependent surveillance-broadcast (ADS-B) equipage for aircraft to gain access to certain airspace by 2020, said FAA associate administrator for aviation safety Nicholas Sabatini. Sabatini made the comments during a speech at the FAA’s New Technologies Workshop on Tuesday in Washington.
The Helicopter Association International (HAI) has sent an urgent congressional alert to its members to contact their legislators about resolving continued delays in the FAA’s longstanding commitment to provide National Airspace System-quality communications and weather services in the Gulf of Mexico. According to HAI, more than 35,000 people live and work offshore, supported by nearly 650 helicopters.