Australia going ahead with full ADS-B rollout

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Airservices Australia has called for tenders for 20 automatic dependent surveillance-broadcast (ADS-B) ground stations to be installed across Australia as part of a wide-ranging deployment of the technology.

Transport minister John Anderson announced plans for the rollout of ADS-B by national air traffic services provider Airservices at a conference in Canberra today. He says the intention is for the technology to be deployed by the end of 2005.

“Australia has never had air traffic control radar coverage across the whole continent, because of its immense cost and the relatively small number of aircraft that fly across the centre of our country,” says Anderson.

“I am announcing today that Airservices Australia will establish 20 ground stations across regional and remote Australia for a new air traffic control technology called automatic dependent surveillance-broadcast, or ADS-B. Aircraft using the system will be fitted with an enhancement to their radar transponder, which will transmit satellite navigation data to the ground stations along with other information including the identity of the aircraft, its altitude and speed.”

The system will be used to track domestic and international flights operating above 30,000ft (9,150m). Data will be transmitted through the ground stations to Airservices’ major control centres, where it will be integrated with the country’s national air traffic control system, The Australian Advanced Air Traffic System (TAAATS).

Anderson adds that the ADS-B system “will cover virtually the entire continent at a fraction of the cost of installing and maintaining conventional radar systems”.

Airservices will be rolling out ADS-B following trials on the technology in the airspace surrounding Bundaberg, in the eastern state of Queensland, which it says have been a “huge success”. The project is expected to cost more than A$10 million ($6.7 million).

With ADS-B, aircraft avionics automatically broadcast aircraft position, altitude, velocity and other data via digital datalink. This can then be used by other aircraft and air traffic control to show the aircraft’s position and altitude without the need for radar. Under the current system, in areas not covered by radar, air traffic controllers use reports from pilots to estimate the position of aircraft.

“The ADS-B system will increase safety by enabling air traffic controllers to pinpoint precisely the aircraft equipped with the system,” says Anderson.

“It will also reduce air traffic control delays, because controllers will be able to safely space aircraft closer together, resulting in optimum flight altitudes.”