By Emma Kelly in Perth

Airservices Australia has cancelled the request for proposals (RFP) process for the purchase and installation of automatic dependent surveillance-broadcast (ADS-B) avionics for general aviation aircraft as it reconsiders plans to extend its ADS-B programme below flight level 300 (30,000ft/9,000m).

The air traffic services provider had issued the RFP to avionics manufacturers for the supply of 1,500 ADS-B units to equip the country’s general aviation fleet as part of plans to replace en route radars with ADS-B technology in the lower airspace from 2009. Last year Australia’s Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA) started work on the process that would have mandated the programme. The country has already committed to upper airspace ADS-B which will see ADS-B technology used above FL300 from next year.

Chief executive officer Greg Russell told Airservices staff last week that introducing ADS-B in lower airspace is "a significantly more complex matter than upper level airspace, and raises a number of operational and policy issues that require resolution before a decision to proceed can be made". No new date for possible implementation has been set, according to Airservices.

ADS-B implementation in lower airspace would have required mandatory ADS-B equipage for the programme to be successful and this issue, along with a subsidy which would have been required to ensure compliance, are among factors which have proved stumbling blocks to the programme. While there is industry support for the extension of the ADS-B programme, some elements of the industry including former CASA chairman Dick Smith have conducted a vociferous campaign against it.

"Airservices’ own consultation process has led the organisation to conclude that some elements of the aviation industry and government need more time to consider the costs, timeframe and implementation issues associated with the introduction of ADS-B technology in lieu of en route radars," Russell informed staff.

Russell says that while there is considerable support for the introduction of ADS-B, more time is required to ensure the industry understands the technology and supports its wider introduction. Russell told Flight that there needs to be more effective industry consultation on the issue.

Airservices says it remains committed to the upper airspace ADS-B programme, although implementation of that has already suffered a year-long delay.

Meanwhile, Airservices has signed a multi-million dollar deal with Thales for the supply of new generation radars at eight of the country’s busiest airports. From next year new radars will be installed at Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Perth, Adelaide, Cairns, Coolangatta and Canberra, replacing 15-year-old equipment.

Source: Flight International