Pelton: jury 'still out' on ADS-B benefits

Washington DC
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Cessna chief executive Jack Pelton says the "jury's still out" on the real benefits of the automatic dependent surveillance - broadcast rulemaking that was finalised in May.

The rule calls for aircraft to equip by 2020 with avionics that will broadcast the aircraft's GPS-based position and other information to the ground as a means of surveillance.

While so-called ADS-B "out" will help the US Federal Aviation Administration in its plans to cut radar surveillance resources, namely radar, the benefits for operators are likely to be much greater if the equipment can also receive ADS-B data (ADS-B "in"), including air traffic, weather and other flight planning information, into the aircraft.

Pelton, who made the comments while speaking at the Aeroclub of Washington on 21 June, is heading a funding subcommittee in the recently commissioned US Department of Transportation Future of Aviation Advisory Committee.

In that role, he is looking across the broad spectrum of civil aviation to determine how to best fund elements like the next generation air transport system (NextGen), the FAA's project to transition by 2025 to a satellite-based air traffic system that will be able to handle three-times the traffic in today's system. The FAA considers ADS-B to be the "backbone" of NextGen.

The 19-member Future of Aviation Advisory Committee, which held its first meeting in May, has been tasked to study five areas: safety, workforce needs, balancing competition and viability, stable funding assurances and environmental challenges.

Of NextGen, Pelton says more work needs to be done to analyse the cost versus benefits "for all, not just the airliners" in moving to a satellite-based air traffic control system. "The jury's still out on real benefits of ADS-B mandate," he says.