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FAA approves next phase of ADS-B ground rollout by ITT

FAA has cleared the way for its automatic dependent surveillance broadcast (ADS-B) network prime contractor, ITT, to roll out the next generation surveillance system infrastructure to the majority of the 21 air route traffic control centres (ARTCCs) making up the airspace in the US, Alaska and the Gulf of Mexico.

The complete ADS-B ground system, which will include "essential" and "critical" services, is slated to be complete in 2013. FAA has proposed requiring operators to equip aircraft with certain ADS-B equipment by 2020. Today's announcement is the culmination of more than a year of installation and testing in service volume (SV) 168, a network of 11 ground stations providing essential services around the Miami ARTCC, a geographical area bounded by Key West, Tampa and Melbourne, Florida. Essential services include broadcasts of traffic, weather and airspace data to pilots with ADS-B equipped aircraft.

The positive "in-service decision" gives ITT the go-ahead to deploy essential services at 13 of the 20 remaining service volumes as defined in the first phase of the $1.8 billion contract. FAA has 90 days to decide whether or not to fund ITT for installation of ADS-B infrastructure at the remaining service volumes.

In parallel, ITT is deploying "critical services" to four test locations, including the Philadelphia International Airport and the Gulf of Mexico, by the end of the year. Critical services provide GPS-derived aircraft position to air traffic controllers for traffic separation, a service that in theory will allow the FAA to eliminate secondary surveillance radar in many locations.

The FAA also announced today that its William J. Hughes technical centre near Atlantic City, New Jersey has entered into a lease with local authorities to build an next generation air transportation system (NextGen)-related aviation research and technology park on FAA property there.

Built at no cost to the FAA, the park will be a "high technology, integrated, dynamic aviation facility that provides the infrastructure for national and international leadership in aviation research and technologies," says the FAA.

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