ADS-B, the backbone of the Next Generation Air Transportation System (NextGen), received FAA approval on February 21 to proceed toward the next phase of implementation. The agency’s Joint Resources Council (JRC), a team of top FAA executives that reviews major acquisitions, approved funding for nationwide deployment of ADS-B.
NextGen is the FAA’s plan to transform the nation’s airspace system through 2025, primarily by transitioning from a ground-based system to a satellite-based system. ADS-B is the cornerstone for this transformation by bringing the precision and reliability of satellite-based surveillance to the nation’s skies. With real-time situational awareness in the cockpit, aircraft will be able to fly closer together, resulting in a significant increase in airspace capacity. The JRC approved segment two of ADS-B implementation, which runs from 2009 to 2014.
The JRC also approved moving the Alaska Capstone project into the national ADS-B program, as well as expanding Capstone services within the state. Alaska, the location for the operational evaluation of ADS-B and other aviation safety services, saw a dramatic reduction in its fatal accident rate. The FAA will build on this success by continuing to improve safety and rural access throughout the state. Combining Capstone with the national ADS-B program ensures that development of the Alaska aviation infrastructure will be on par with the national infrastructure as developed in the lower 48 states.
The JRC also validated cost savings resulting from the ADS-B back-up plan, which was finalized late last year. The back-up plan calls for maintaining 50 percent of the secondary radars, which will provide air traffic services in case of a loss or degradation of the GPS signal. This move will allow the agency to remove 50 percent of its current secondary radars, saving money in the program’s baseline.
The ADS-B program office released a Screening Information Request on November 30, 2006, in order to solicit vendors seeking a contract award. A review of the submitted proposals was completed and three vendors were selected to participate in further acquisition activities leading to the contract award. They are ITT of McLean, VA; Lockheed Martin of Rockville, MD, and Raytheon of Marlborough, MA
In July, after the contract is negotiated, the JRC will review the business model in the proposed contract. Based on a successful JRC investment decision, the agency will award the contract for establishing the ADS-B ground infrastructure and providing broadcast services. This will be a performance-based contract in which the FAA will pay “subscription” charges for the ADS-B services and the vendor will be responsible for building and maintaining the infrastructure.
In June 2006, the ADS-B program received JRC approval for segment one, along with funding for 2007 and 2008. In segment one, the FAA will install ADS-B at Philadelphia, Louisville, and Juneau; and install new stations on oil and gas platforms in the Gulf of Mexico, where there is no radar surveillance. Segment one also includes the expansion of ADS-B broadcast services along the East Coast, throughout North Dakota, and along the lower part of the U.S. to Arizona and through Southern California. In addition, it involves the development of ADS-B separation standards and software to interface between ADS-B and other air traffic control systems.