By Joe Singleton in Washington, DC

US Federal Aviation Administration administrator Marion Blakey expects mandatory nationwide deployment of automatic dependent surveillance-broadcast (ADS-B) datalinks on all commercial and general aviation aircraft by 2014.

ADS-B augments global positioning system satellite navigation relayed from aircraft to ground stations to provide air traffic control, pilots, and airport ground vehicles information such as precise aircraft location, bearings, and identification. Data relayed by ADS-B is intended to enhance situational awareness, increase capacity, and reduce safety risks such as runway incursions.

It is also key to the FAA’s proposed national airspace system modernisation plans. “Without ADS-B, there is no next generation system,” said Blakey yesterday at a press conference in Washington, DC. “This is the backbone of a more automated system.”

For example, she says ADS-B will allow pilots to maintain separation standards without requiring as many instructions from controllers. It will allow for heads-up displays that will provide the same view for controllers, pilots, and airport ground vehicle operators to allow for exact aircraft and ground vehicle location and prevent runway incursions.

Blakey says ADS-B will have to be mandatory in the future, not voluntary, as originally envisioned by the regulator. “We’re working to a bring ADS-B to a national level and moving to universality,” she says. “Ultimately, there will be a need for an equipage requirement, but I’m not yet committed to issuing an NPRM [notice of proposed rulemaking] at this time.”

She does say that the FAA in June will be looking into a requirement to equip aircraft with ADS-B at the agency’s Joint Resources Council meeting.  The FAA this year plans to begin first segment of its ADS-B nationwide deployment initiative.

This initial segment, which will provide installation of ADS-B ground stations covering 10% to 15% of the USA, is scheduled to conclude in 2010 at an estimated cost of $600 million. ADS-B ground stations cost an estimated $500,000 each, says Blakey. The cost will be equally divided among the agency and industry users, says Blakey.

FAA officials have requested $80 million in funding during fiscal year 2007 to begin the first segment deployment schedule. Further deployment is expected between 2010 and 2014, in which the remaining part of the country’s ground stations will have ADS-B installed.

FAA officials are currently conducting a cost projection analysis of this second phase, which should be completed by year’s end. Blakey says the ADS-B programme is expected to be operational until 2035.

Source: Flight International