For years the airline industry has been criticizing the Federal Aviation Administration (www.faa.gov) for what critics consider the government’s glacial speed in deploying “NextGen” satellite tracking systems. Now, some significant movement surfaces on the part of the federal agency.
FAA Acting Administrator Robert A. Sturgell has given the go-ahead for nationwide deployment of the Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast (ADS-B) system. The system allows air traffic controllers to track aircraft via satellite, rather than radar. The up-shot, according to the FAA: a safer, more efficient system.
ADS-B is designed to provide more efficient routings in bad weather (and thus reduce delays), and improve pilots’ situational awareness by giving pilots a better way to gauge other aircraft in the skies.
Even in light of the current recession, the FAA plans to roll-out the new systems beginning in 2009 and expects a “nationwide deployment of the system by 2013.”
FAA just commissioned ADS-B “essential services” in Florida, this with the installation of 11 ground stations. Up next in the race to deploy NextGen are installations in Juneau (JNU), Louisville (SDF), the Gulf of Mexico, and Philadelphia (PHL). They’re scheduled to be complete by the end of 2010. With their completion, controllers can start actually separating aircraft using ADS-B.
As FAA tracks aircraft, so too will the airline industry track just how fast NextGen actually makes it into the real-world environment of day-to-day flying.
©Cheapflights Ltd Jerry Chandler