Australia's air traffic management (ATM) planning group, ASTRA, is expected to give the go-ahead to a lower-airspace automatic dependent surveillance – broadcast (ADS-B) programme in the next few months.

The group, which comprises Australia's ATM stakeholders and government agencies, has been considering extending the existing upper-airspace ADS-B programme to below flight level 300. "If a decision is not made in the next few months, we have missed the opportunity. We need to go ahead mid-year," says Greg Dunstone, manager of the ADS-B programme at air traffic services provider Airservices Australia.

A lower-airspace programme will require all aircraft to be equipped for ADS-B, including Australia's general aviation fleet. This will need a mandate and some sort of "cross-industry funding package" – financial incentives – to equip.

ASTRA commissioned consultants Access Economics to develop a business case for the programme. The report produced "favourable numbers" for implementation of a lower-airspace programme, says Dunstone. Before mid-year, ASTRA is also expected to call for tenders for the production of 1,500 GA ADS-B avionics units.

If it gets the go-ahead, the lower-airspace programme will be implemented in 2009-10, although there will be an option to cancel in the first quarter of 2006 if everything is not in place, says Dunstone.

Airservices is progressing with its lower-airspace programmes which will see 57 ADS-B ground stations installed throughout the country by the end of this year.

Source: Flight International