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What does the ADS-B Mean for the Aviation Industry?

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The FAA is talking about replacing current radar infrastructure with a new system relying on satellites to show all the information (course, speed, and elevation) of other aircraft within each aircraft. The system will also supposedly also show current weather in your area...


Plan to Replace Radar


Surveillance and Broadcast Services


What are your thoughts on this?


Will this take out ATC?

Edited by Future206Pilot
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I think ADS-B has the potential to be a real plus to helicopter operations. One's eyes and TCAS work fine for traffic purposes but ATC radar is practically useless at the altitudes and ranges flown. Both offshore and elsewhere the lack of continuous accurate position reporting is addressed but could be much better. ADS-B promises to make every offshore pilot's nightmare - taking a swim close to sundown when no one knows quite where you are and they can't get to you even if they do - "just" a really bad night.


A bigger issue, and one I'm certain many pilots want addressed, has to do with the surveillance aspect. But that's a double edged sword too. I'll hazard a guess that most pilots don't want to someone "looking over their shoulder", until something goes wrong and they need help. It may or may not ever be known for certain, but I imagine if Steve Fossett lived through the [presumed] initial crash of the aircraft he was flying that he died from injury or exposure and that may have been avoided had he been located sooner. I don't knowingly violate regulations so I'm not concerned from that perspective but I'd rather not collide with traffic I may not see and like to be able to be found if that's ever be necessary.


An ELT is a relatively low-cost system (under $1000) and exactly where I'd opt to put the identification and GPS position components of ADS-B functionality. The altitude and RF components could be there as well or might be better co-located with a mode C transponder/encoder or derivative. Data and power could be transferred between the two over a NMEA 0183 or USB interface. Far fetched? Look at the ACR Aerofix 406 and ACR Microfix 406.


Predominantly down in class G helicopters are rarely an ATC concern and shouldn't need to broadcast their position strictly on that account. Computers have a much bigger potential for "taking out ATC" than how aircraft position, altitude, and velocity are determined.



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There is a ton of potential for the ADS-B system throughout aviation; including helos. The bigger issue however, is how much the FAA is willing to implement of its capabilities.


For aviation in general (meaning mostly airplanes) the ADS-B system will open up the sky and all of the radar dead spots associated with it. This will allow more direct routing for airlines and open up the IFR GPS nav routes to replace the victor airways. This will ideally ease traffic congestion, flight delays, flight times for all aircraft.


For helos, ADS-B will provide that needed link for Off-shore and mountainous regions. Radar doesn't go far out to sea and obviously doesn't permeate mountains. As a result, neither ATC nor companies can always safely track aircraft operations. By providing a satellite tracking system, you can track an aircraft anywhere in the world regardless of range.


Similar systems already exist in both the military and some civil companies (Blue Force Tracking/Blue Sky) but they have many other uses in addition to tracking aircraft and they are in their infancy relatively speaking. ADS-B won't get rid of ATC, it is to give them better situational awareness and true coverage everywhere they need it.


I think the transition will be tricky but in the long run, it will pay off, especially with operations in remote areas and congested areas. I know there's been times I've been working in an area where there was no radar coverage and I wish there was. I'd rather have someone know exactly where I am before I have to activate my elt if you know what I mean.

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