The Western Operations division of Australia's Royal Flying Doctor Service (RFDS) expects to have 11 aircraft equipped for automatic dependent surveillance - broadcast (ADS-B) within six months. Avionics for six of the aircraft have been donated to the RFDS by Airservices Australia, which is already deploying ADS-B in the upper airspace of the country and is seeking industry support to extend the programme below 30,000ft (9,150m) to replace its ageing radar and navaid infrastructure.

The RFDS is split into four operating divisions - Western Operations, Central Operations, South East Section and Queensland Section, with the 11 aircraft - six Pilatus PC-12s and five Beechcraft King Air 200s -flown by the RFDS's Western Operations division.

Western Operations will share its experience of ADS-B with the other divisions, says Stephen Lansell, director of aviation and communications. The RFDS's national policy is in favour of ADS-B, Lansell says. The RFDS expects ADS-B to be of major benefit to the service, which operates in remote parts of the country with a single pilot, with the technology expected to provide an added degree of safety, he says.

RFDS already has experience of ADS-B, with two of its aircraft from the Queensland Section participating in Airservices' original ADS-B trial, which operated in the Burnett Basin region of Queensland.

The Western Operations aircraft will feature Honeywell transponders, with two aircraft already having participated in a one-month trial.

Airservices is installing ADS-B ground stations throughout the country as part of an upper airspace programme that will see ADS-B implemented above flight level 300 from late next year. For some time it has also been discussing extending the programme, replacing the country's ageing radar and navaid infrastructure with ADS-B.

The move has not received support from all sectors of the industry, however, as it would require the country's aircraft fleet to be equipped. The government recently issued a consultation paper proposing a phased programme to replace the existing radar and navaid infrastructure with ADS-B from 2012 (Flight International, 14-20 August).

As part of that programme the government is proposing a cross-industry funding scheme to subsidise the acquisition and installation of ADS-B avionics for the country's general aviation fleet. Industry has until the end of this month to respond to the proposal.

Lansell says there is still a fair amount of resistance to the proposal in the general aviation and sports/recreational aircraft sectors, but the RFDS looks forward to significant ADS-B benefits once more of the country's aircraft fleet is equipped.

Source: Flight International