GPS based aircraft tracking mandated by 2020 in U.S.

KUSA – The FAA is accelerating the implementation of the next generation of aviation tracking following the disappearance of the Malaysian Airline Boeing 777.

The agency has been working on a system called Automatic Dependent Surveillance Broadcast, or ADS-B, radio network. It allows controllers to monitor an aircraft from the time it takes off to the time it lands, using GPS satellite tracking, rather than ground-based radar.

Of the 230 air traffic facilities across the country, only 100 use the system now. The FAA announced it will be mandatory for all facilities to use it by 2020.

"One of the big questions with MH370 is the fact that they lost radar contact with the airplane and we had no other way of tracking that aircraft," said 9NEWS aviation expert Greg Feith. "And one of the big issues, of course, is if it had been equipped with an ADSB or GPS based system – we would have had full coverage."

There are some planes now that have ADSB systems.

"There are specific flight tracks that require an airplane to be equipped with this newer generation avionics. So that they can separate traffic, especially going over the ocean, like Atlantic or Pacific Ocean routes," Feith said.

Right now there are spots on the earth without radar coverage.

"Not only here in the United States, but around the rest of the world, as we've seen with MH370," Feith said.

ADSB closes the gap, allowing controllers to have better surveillance of the aircraft, no matter where it is in the country.

"Of course it'll provide information for pilots, including weather," Feith said.

The world isn't covered yet by ADSB, but the United States has all the ground stations in place. Now it's just a matter of making sure all planes have the equipment too.

"Right now, a lot of aircraft are being equipped with it. It's just that we didn't have the infrastructure built. Now the infrastructure is built to use ADSB here in the United States, the rest of the world will follow suit so that we will have almost worldwide coverage for any aircraft," Feith said.

"There are going to be a number of air traffic control facilities coming online – that we have to have full equipment on the airplane – and use of it by 2020," Feith said.

(KUSA-TV © 2014 Multimedia Holdings Corporation)


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