The Australian government is proposing to replace the country's ageing radar and navigation aid infrastructure with global navigation satellite systems (GNSS) and automatic dependent surveillance - broadcast (ADS-B) in a phased programme from 2012.

Australian air traffic service provider Airservices Australia is already installing ADS-B stations throughout the country to implement the technology above flight level 300 late in 2008. It has been considering replacing en route radars with ADS-B for some time as an extension of that programme but not all sectors of the industry have supported such a move based largely on cost issues, with it requiring widespread fitment.

To make the proposal more appealing the government is now proposing a cross-industry funding scheme to subsidise the acquisition and installation of ADS-B avionics for the country's general aviation fleet.

Last week the government issued a joint consultation paper, produced by Airservices Australia, the Australian Defence Force, the Civil Aviation Safety Authority and the Department of Transport and Regional Services, seeking industry input on the proposal. The move is necessary as the country will shortly be required to make replacement decisions on its ageing 11 en route radars and a large number of navigation aids.

From 28 June 2012 ADS-B avionics would be required for all civilian instrument flight rule operations and all civilian visual flight rule operations that currently require carriage and use of a transponder. From 26 June 2014 ADS-B avionics would be required for all civilian VFR operations that currently require carriage and use of a VHF radio. Airservices would start to decommission en route radars from 2012 and non-back-up radars from 2014. Military aircraft will be required to carry ADS-B avionics from 21 June 2018. After transition, aircraft operating in Australia will rely primarily on ADS-B for en route surveillance, GNSS for en route and non-precision approach navigation and moving map ADS-B traffic displays for situational awareness and surveillance.

Equipping a typical general aviation VFR aircraft is expected to cost less than A$10,000 ($8,600) and less than A$15,000 for a typical general aviation IFR aircraft, says the paper. The four government agencies are proposing a cross-industry funding scheme for aircraft with a maximum take-off weight of less or equal to 5,700kg (12,500lb), with 11,000 aircraft in the country eligible for the scheme.

Essentially, Airservices' customers would pay for the scheme, with the service provider using the savings achieved through not replacing existing en route radar and navigation aids until the avionics costs are covered, says the consultation paper. Once the avionics costs are met, ongoing savings will be passed on to customers, it adds.

The funding will be based on a voucher system whereby a voucher would be issued after the aircraft owner completes an application, with the voucher redeemable when accompanied by evidence of permanent installation of avionics.

Industry has until 31 October to respond to the proposal.

Source: Flight International