China Looks At ADS-B

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After spending millions of dollars in the Alaska Capstone project proving that Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast systems keep order in the air in the absence of radar, the U.S.-taxpayer-driven project is about to pay dividends -- in China. It appears the world's biggest emerging economic powerhouse is prepared to take a giant technological leap over complex maintenance and labor-intensive ground-based navigation systems and go straight to ADS-B for managing its burgeoning GA numbers. And it will be an American company showing them how, at least in the early stages. ADS-B Technologies, of Anchorage, has signed a $2 million deal to equip 160 light aircraft (a significant percentage of China's current GA fleet) and build six ground stations at China's Civil Aviation University. ADS-B Technologies President Skip Nelson said China was an obvious market because it wants to rapidly expand private and business aviation but has hardly any navigation infrastructure. "It's essentially a blank sheet of paper in terms of western-style air-traffic control," Nelson said. In the Capstone project, the FAA paid for installation of ADS-B equipment in aircraft and on the ground as a means of cutting Alaska's high accident rate. Accident numbers have dropped substantially for Capstone-equipped operators.