Tag Archives: ADS-B

FAA mandates ADS-B out by 2020; GA not happy

The FAA this week released its final rule on ADS-B equipage in the mid-term, mandating ADS-B Out capability by 2020 for every aircraft using airspace where a transponder is currently required. Predictably, GA groups feel that they will be made to shoulder a large financial burden that ultimately will benefit airlines and air travelers rather than private pilots, although some concessions to general aviation were made in the final rule.

Some good resources to understand the consequences and subtleties of this rulemaking:

  • Article in Air Transport World here
  • Full text of rule here (via Federal Register)
  • ATA press release here
  • Analysis of costs/benefits to GA from AVweb here
  • AOPA press release here

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South Florida ADS-B rollout feted

The Miami Herald had a reasonably accurate report about NextGen, hooked to an FAA/ITT-sponsored junket related to  the South Florida ADS-B rollout. Would it be poor form to lament the — entirely typical — lack of outside perspectives against which to measure official claims?

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FAA updates NextGen Implementation Plan; emphasis on avionics

There’s a new plan in town, and it comes from the FAA. The current update to the NextGen Implementation Plan (summary here; full doc available here) outlines the agency’s implementation commitments for the next five years, locks in a set of capabilities that it aims to make operational by 2018, and lays out a roadmap for avionics equipage.

Aviation Week had this by way of summary:

Avionics is a major focus of FAA’s latest 2018 plan. “Ensuring that a significant portion of the aircraft fleet is appropriately equipped to take advantage of NextGen infrastructure improvements is perhaps the most critical issue in achieving success,” the plan says. To achieve this, FAA advocates a “best-equipped, best-served” policy, as well as incentives for operators. The agency believes the changes it proposes could cut delays by 35%-40%, versus the “no-change” scenario.

For aircraft equipage, the plan envisages greater use of existing technology such as RNAV/RNP, electronic flight bags and data communications. However, new capabilities will also be implemented. Many of these are based on satellite navigation, drawing on automatic dependent surveillance-broadcast (ADS-B), with both ADS-B In and Out.

The new plan also highlights the ATC infrastructure programs that will be necessary. Many of these are already in various stages of implementation or development, such as the massive en-route automation modernization (ERAM) effort.

The NextGen portion of the FAA’s web site has a fairly detailed layout of the 2018 capability framwork broken down by “flight stage”: Planning, pushback/taxi/takeoff, climb and cruise, descent and approach, and landing/taxi/gate arrival.

We’ll hear more about avionics and the NextGen roadmap at Thursday’s JPDO all-hands meeting — stay tuned.

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US Airways to equip its A330s with ADS-B

from Aviation Week:

US Airways plans to use its long-haul Airbus A330 fleet in a new FAA trial that is expected to bring the benefits of satellite-based navigation links to congested Northeast airspace and transatlantic routes.

The US Airways project – which also includes manufacturer Aviation Communications and Surveillance Systems (ACSS) – is the most ambitious step yet in a wider FAA initiative to fund avionics upgrades in selected airline fleets. These early deployments are geared toward demonstrating the effectiveness of systems vital to the FAA’s NextGen modernization effort, and providing operational data needed by the agency.

In the latest trial, automatic dependent surveillance-broadcast (ADS-B) will be used in up to 20 Airbus A330s, initially at the US Airways hub at Philadelphia International Airport and then at Charlotte (N.C.) Douglas International. [..]

US Airways will retrofit the nine A330-300s it has in its fleet for ADS-B, and the A330-200s it has on order will be equipped as they arrive. This work is scheduled to begin in May, and US Airways expects to have 20 aircraft participating in the program by 2010. The A330s are considered ideal because they are predominantly used on transatlantic flights and depart from the same airport at around the same time.

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NetJets, FAA sign NextGen agreement

From Aviation Week:

NetJets Aviation Inc. has signed a wide ranging agreement with the FAA that will place the fractional jet operator in the forefront of the transformation of the U.S. air transportation system under the NextGen modernization program.

NetJets officials and FAA managers from a range of the agency’s functional areas will meet later this month to begin working out the details. NetJets plans to run some test programs in various parts of the U.S. by equipping some of the 550 to 600 aircraft it manages for fractional owners in the U.S. with the required avionics. Tests may involve the Wide Area Augmentation System (WAAS), Automatic Dependent Surveillance Broadcast, area navigation (RNAV) and Required Navigation Performance (RNP) and possibly the use of electronic flight bags.

More here…

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EU looking at 2015 for an ADS-B Out mandate: report

A great article from John Sheridan of AIN online on the differing timetables and perspectives around ADS-B out in Europe vs. the U.S.  Some excerpts:

At the Air Traffic Control Association’s annual November Convention in Washington, FAA director of surveillance and broadcast services Vincent Capezutto advised AIN that he expected that the final rule covering the mandated carriage of ADS-B out avionics will be published in April 2010. This is about 12 months later than the FAA had anticipated, but Capezutto believes that the original mandate date of Jan. 1, 2020, will most likely remain unchanged.

[.. It was] surprising to learn at the November Air Traffic Control Association Convention that legislators in the European Community intend to issue an NPRM for ADS-B out with a 2015 mandate. The guiding philosophy appears to be that since most European air traffic is composed of large airliners already equipped with mode-S “squitter” avionics, they will either already have the extended squitter capability required for ADS-B, or they can be modified to comply.
The proposed rule would mandate ADS-B out after 2012 for new airframes, and 2015 for retrofits. The EC’s proposal differs from the FAA’s in one key area: it will be limited to aircraft weighing more than 12,500 pounds and with cruise speeds of more than 250 knots.

There was also considerable skepticism about the exclusion of slower, lighter airplanes. As one put it, “ADS-B can be effective only if all aircraft are equipped,” while another pointed out that Europe has massive radar coverage and ADS-B out will not significantly improve the continent’s ATC capabilities. Furthermore, it appears that there is no plan to establish a continent-wide network of ADS-B ground stations, and those would be installed entirely at the discretion of individual European member nations.

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Nationwide ADS-B ground rollout formally announced

It was not exactly unexpected, but ADS-B has been deemed officially fit for prime time. Acting FAA Administrator Bobby Sturgell announced a nationwide rollout of ground stations yesterday in a speech before the Aero Club in Washington. (Press release here.)

In the short term, the biggest beneficiary of this “in-service decision” will be system integrator ITT, which had the main contract for installation at a series of 11 test sites around the Miami ARTCC. (More details about the business angle in this article from flightglobal.)

In his remarks, Sturgell lamented the state of public perceptions around NextGen, and especially around the FAA’s ability to manage complex projects in a timely fashion:

We’re dealing with claims like “NextGen won’t be here until 2025” or “NextGen’s just a slogan.” I think that talk comes to a halt today.  [..]  In just a little more than a year following the ADS-B contract award, we’re in the position to give it the green light. On budget. On schedule. This decision clears the way for the installation of ground stations, and to transmit broadcasts for operational use across the nation. We’ll start on both coasts and portions of the Midwest. 310 ground stations are scheduled to be operational by 2010.

At the same time, we’re setting up key sites for ADS-B testing for surveillance. We’re going to use the Gulf of Mexico, Philadelphia, Juneau and Louisville. And once the test is completed, we follow closely at additional key sites, like New York.

By 2013, we’ll have 794 ground stations to complete the deployment, covering everywhere that you find radar today. And also in places like the Gulf and the mountains of Alaska, where there is no radar coverage.

I said a moment ago that the critics contend that NextGen is a slogan. This is the order to accept the system — to commission it. Vinny Capezzuto’s group has tested ADS-B ten ways from Sunday, and it works. The top safety expert, Nick Sabatini, says it’s a go. The COO is a former airline pilot, and he’s giving it thumbs up. Consider ADS-B operational on November 24, 2008, at 10:15 a.m.

The four sites that Sturgell referenced (Gulf of Mexico, Philadelpha, Juneau, Louisville) are interesting in that the technology being tested there represents the next frontier for ADS-B. These so-called “critical services” are intended to provided GPS-based aircraft position data to controllers, in order to help achieve correct separation. Theoretically, this will eventually allow the FAA to eliminate secondary radar in some locations.

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Honeywell, ACSS receive funding to demonstrate ADS-B’s value

The FAA says it wants to speed up the deployment of avionics that can take advantage of ADS-B technology, and is funding a small demonstration project meant to prove the value of having that data in the cockpit. (FAA Press release) The $9 million effort will be conducted by Honeywell and ACSS, and calls for two planes to be outfitted with a full suite of NextGen gadgetry. Other partners on the project: US Airways (which will work with ACSS), plus Alaska Airlines and JetBlue Airways (which will provide pilots).

A sidenote: ACSS is a joint venture of aerospace IT heavyweights L3 Communications and Thales Group.

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Comment period reopened on proposed ‘ADS-B out’ requirments

The FAA has reopened the comment period related to ‘ADS-B out’ performance requirements, now that the ADS-B aviation rulemaking committee report is available. A searchable index of the docket including all comments submitted so far is available here. Cutoff date for responses is November 3; you can also fax comments to (202) 493-2251.

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Cost-benefit of ADS-B ‘non-positive,’ general aviation says

Operators have responded to the proposed ADS-B mandate for general aviation aircraft with a Bronx cheer, AINonline reports.

A cost-benefit case for ADS-B equipage of general aviation aircraft cannot be made, concluded an Aviation Rulemaking Committee (ARC) in a report published last week. Analysis of public comments relating to the FAA’s September 2007 ADS-B NPRM showed 101 positive and 1,271 “non-positive” responses.

Sources tell the Aviation International News website they saw little or no benefit to the plan, when compared with its compliance costs. And without incentives, they add, many operators will stall on buying ADS-B “out” equipment, on the assumption that avionics prices will only come down. Plus, equipment purchased today could well be obsolete by 2020, the proposed compliance date.

As one FAA insider conceded to AIN, “We didn’t anticipate it might be interpreted that way.”

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ADS-B delivers South Florida pilots traffic and weather

The FAA reports pilots flying in aircraft equipped with ADS-B in South Florida can now receive free traffic and weather information on their cockpit displays. For traffic, it’s the first time pilots can see the same info available to air traffic controllers.
Read more in this FAA press release and in this press release from ITT Corp. ITT last year won the $207 million initial contract to lead the development and deployment of the first phase of the ADS-B ground infrastructure.

It’s not clear how many of those ADS-B-equipped planes are actually flying these days. DayJet Corp., whose fleet of air taxis was to have been a testbed for NextGen technology, including ADS-B, has stopped flying as of Sept. 19. This story from the Birmingham Business Journal has the company blaming its woes on money and aircraft problems. Read more about the original DayJet-FAA MOU in this Google cache of a company press release (pdf) from June 2008.

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More from Oshkosh: Sturgell sees controller workload easing

As I mentioned earlier, Acting FAA Administrator Robert Sturgell took questions about air traffic control and NextGen issues at last week’s AirVenture event. While a transcript isn’t available, AIN Online did have some additional quotes and insight in their report from Oshkosh. Sturgell characterized the nation’s ATC system as being:

in a “transition” phase as controllers hired in the wake of the 1981 Patco strike retire. […] He said that the agency is replacing the retiring controllers through aggressive hiring–at a rate of 1,800 controllers per year–and training.
The agency’s ongoing contract dispute with the National Air Traffic Controllers Association union (Natca) should be kept in perspective, he noted. “We value this work force,” Sturgell said, adding that the FAA had placed a $70 million settlement issue “on the table.”
Sturgell charged that Natca’s contract demands, if applied retroactively, would cost more than $1 billion and that, overall, controller workload has decreased significantly since 2000 in terms of the number of operations handled by an average controller.
He also said that new technology could further lighten future controller workload. That technology includes ADS-B and WAAS. Sturgell noted that ADS-B would be up and running at select South Florida airports by the end of the summer.

[Kudos to AIN’s Mark Huber for his reporting.]

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[Update] ADS-B Air-to-Air capabilities

Updating my previous post, I had a chance to look at the FAA’s final Statement of Objectives (link to word doc here) related to the ADS-B Performance Requirments contract that will be awarded in the next six weeks. I have to be honest: Between the acronym soup and the agency-speak, it’s pretty hard to wade your way through the content.

Anyway, there are a few intriguing nuggets. For one, the following graph highlights the two very different goals of this project: (1) Make arrivals safer, and (2) promote ADS-B.

FAA has a need for acceleration of ADS-B air-to-air applications, specifically in the area of surface conflict detection and cockpit alert capabilities to reduce number of runway incursions with additional consideration of incorporating arrival applications.

These needs are consistent with the National Transportation Safety Board’s concern with runway safety and FAA’s desire to stimulate early adoption of ADS-B by the Airlines.

Another item of interest is the diagram explaining how the timelines of the two sponsoring organizations (FAA and RTCA) will intersect. Before looking at this diagram, I had not really appreciated how pivotal the RTCA’s role will be.

FAA/RTCA diagram

FAA/RTCA diagram

If I understand this correctly, the RTCA will provide a draft definition of the operational and environmental framework as it is understood today. Then, the vendor will develop the key components that, taken together, provide a complete conceptual solution for evaluating safety/hazard and system performance issues. It’s interesting that this entire phase of the project appears to be under the aegis of the RTCA.

One final note. According to the Statement of Objectives, all of this ground work is meant to come to fruition in February 2010 during a demonstration at a “medium to high density airport” of the vendor’s choosing. The vendor must expect to show system functionality for the following conditions:

  • Demo aircraft taxies on a taxiway toward a runway with high-speed converging conflict traffic.
  • Demo aircraft departs and conflict traffic enters the runway ahead of the demo aircraft.
  • Demo aircraft is on approach to a runway with conflict traffic on that runway so that a go-around is required.
  • Demo aircraft has landed on a runway and conflict traffic is entering the runway ahead of the demo aircraft.
  • Demo aircraft is taxiing on a runway and conflict traffic approaches the runway from behind.

It will be interesting to see which vendors step up to the plate, and how they will be aiming to differentiate themselves.

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Contract opportunity: ADS-B Air to Air Capabilities

An updated list of documents and requirements has been posted regarding the FAA’s project entitled:

“ADS-B Air to Air Capabilities – Acceleration of Surface Conflict Detection and Cockpit Alert Capabilities. Identification of Performance Requirements”

This will obviously be essential for the industry reps who are gathering on September 3 for a mini-trade show on this issue at FAA HQ. The final RFP is expected on September 10.

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