United Parcel Service (UPS) is working towards having ten aircraft equipped with automatic dependent surveillance - broadcast (ADS-B) systems by the end of 2000 and expects its entire fleet will be retrofitted with the product by 2002.
At the FAA's Aviation Forecast conference this week, UPS president Thomas Weidemeyer confirmed the carrier had formally decided to "take a leadership role in applying this technology".
Although ADS-B awaits FAA certification - expected sometime this summer - UPS has taken the initial step of installing provisions for the product, including wiring, equipment trays and harnesses.
Upwards of 100 aircraft will be installed with provision equipment by the end of 2000. Of these, ten aircraft will be fully ADS-B-enabled. The bulk of UPS' 230 aircraft will be equipped with ADS-B by the end of 2001 with the remaining airliners fitted in 2002.
UPS Aviation Technologies - a subsidiary of UPS, which developed the product - says that while the process is "fairly involved", UPS is confident it will gain certification by this summer.
A spokesman for the company, Ken Shapero, says other cargo carriers have shown "a lot of interest" and UPS is talking to them about acquiring the system.
Tested by Airborne Express, FedEx and others, ADS-B is the concept that uses datalinks to transmit Global Positioning System (GPS)-based position and intent data for display in other aircraft and to controllers.
It is considered an attractive alternative to installing traffic alert and collision and avoidance systems, since an aircraft can maintain its own separation with ADS-B.
"One of the applications to use ADS-B - once certified - is collision avoidance but that is just one of the 12-14 applications we'll get out of ADS-B," says Shapero. "It solves a lot of problems…with runway incursion prevention and surveillance in non-radar areas and we'll be working with the FAA to develop new procedures."