What it does
The Gulf of Mexico airspace has a tremendous amount of helicopter traffic to and from oil platforms, as well as commercial air traffic over the Gulf. ADS-B surveillance has significantly improved safety and efficiency for all operations in airspace where radar was never possible.
Since 2009 when the FAA installed ADS-B in the Gulf, monthly Instrument Flight Rules helicopter traffic has tripled, due to the improved routing efficiencies and safety benefits of ADS-B-based ATC surveillance and separation.
With ADS-B surveillance, high altitude aircraft flying over the Gulf can be separated by only 5 nautical miles instead of 100, and aircraft don't have to be re-routed over land during weather diversions.
These efficiencies save time and fuel, and reduce aircraft emissions. Estimates show ADS-B surveillance in the Gulf will save operators nearly $70 million by 2035.
How it works
ADS-B is a surveillance system based on satellite-based positioning that provides improved aircraft positions and velocities compared with radar. Small, easily maintained ADS-B ground stations can be installed in areas where radar is not possible, including on oil platforms and along the shore, making it possible to extend ADS-B surveillance across the Gulf of Mexico.
ADS-B is now in place at high altitude (above FL280) over the entire Gulf, thanks to the FAA and SENEAM (Mexican air navigation service provider) working as partners to install ADS-B ground stations on Mexican territory to complete the coverage.
ADS-B separation services are operational now in all U.S.-controlled airspace and will be implemented in Mexico by 2017.