In another step to modernize the national airspace system, flight controllers in the Philadelphia area now have the capability to use a satellite-based system to more efficiently and safely track and separate aircraft, according to the Federal Aviation Administration.http://www.faa.gov/news/press_releases/news_story.cfm?newsId=11337
“This new technology is a tremendous leap forward in transforming the current air traffic control system,” FAA Administrator Randy Babbitt said in a prepared statement. “The operational benefits in Philadelphia extend as far as Washington, D.C., and New York, which has some of the most congested airspace in the world.”
The state of the art Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast (ADS-B), is a core technology under the Next Generation Air Transportation System (NextGen).
Using ADS-B, air traffic controllers have more precise information while separating aircraft in the sky and on the runways, which the FAA claims will lead to greater efficiency and safety benefits. Controllers who have access to ADS-B receive one-second update rates compared to 4 ½-second update rates with radar.
Using this new technology, the FAA said that controllers should will be able to reduce separation in the en-route environment from the current five nautical miles to three, saving both time and money for the airlines while reducing the carbon footprint.
“Pilots flying aircraft equipped with ADS-B know precisely where they are and are able to see other properly equipped aircraft,” the FAA said in its press release. “They also have access to better information on area weather and receive flight information electronically, such as airmen notices and temporary flight restrictions.”
The FAA picked Philadelphia, Houston, Louisville, Ky., and Juneau, Ark., were chosen to demonstrate ADS-B services. The sites were selected because of their unique airspace environments and local needs.
ADS-B coverage at Philadelphia extends 60 nautical miles out and about 10,000 feet up. Philadelphia was selected because of its current automation platform that is used by air traffic controllers, called the Standard Terminal Automated Replacement System, according to the FAA.
UPS has also equipped for ADS-B services and a large amount of their operations are conducted at Philadelphia International Airport. In addition, US Airways is in the process of equipping its aircraft to use ADS-B.
Philadelphia Airport also has Airport Surface Detection Equipment (ASDE-X), which provides detailed coverage of movement on runways and taxiways allowing controllers to detect potential conflicts. The ASDE-X at Philadelphia has been upgraded to receive ADS-B data. Additionally, the ASDE-X surveillance data will be used as a Traffic Information Service – Broadcast (TIS-B) source so pilots can see non-ADS-B targets on their cockpit displays.
The FAA is installing the ground infrastructure for ADS-B, and has proposed that airlines and private aircraft install ADS-B avionics by 2020. Some airlines and private aircraft have already started equipping in advance of that date. ADS-B is expected to be available nationwitrackde by 2013.