FAA puts up proposal for satellite-based navigation by 2020

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has proposed a set of aircraft avionics requirements aimed at making the aviation industry transit to a Next Generation satellite-based air transportation system.

The FAA''s proposals would require all aircraft flying in the nation''s busiest air corridors to have satellite-based avionics by 2020, which would allow air traffic controllers to track aircraft by satellites using a system known as Automatic Dependent Surveillance Broadcast (ADS-B). The system is ten times more accurate than current radar technology.

Aircraft not flying in controlled airspace need not be equipped with ADS-B avionics, but may choose to do so in order to realize the safety benefits.

"Aviation must take the big step into the next generation of technology," said Acting FAA Administrator Bobby Sturgell. "It''s safer and more accurate. Satellite technology is here to stay."

As satellite signals are ten times more accurate, they would eventually allow air traffic controllers to reduce separation standards between aircraft, and in the process significantly increasing the number of aircraft that can be safely managed in the nation''s skies.

Traffic is projected to grow from 740 million passengers in 2006 to one billion in 2015.

Under a contract awarded to ITT Corporation last month, ground stations for the new system will be brought online across the country in phases. A nationwide coverage is expected to be in place by 2013.

ADS-B cockpit displays allow pilot''s to see, in real time, their location in relation to other aircraft, in bad weather and all kinds of terrain.

The proposed rule is open for public comment for 90 days, and is scheduled to come into effect by late 2009. The proposed compliance date of 2020 will allow the aviation industry more than 10 years to properly equip aircraft with ADS-B avionics.