More "Virtual" Radar Available

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Whether you're a flight school operator who wants to keep tabs on students or the anxious partner of a weekend warrior wondering when (if) your flying companion will be home for dinner, a British company might have the answer. Kinetic Avionics has developed a radio receiver and software package which picks up Mode S and ADS-B signals from aircraft within 100 or so miles (depending on terrain and antenna). In the case of ADS-B-equipped planes, it displays them on the computer screen as a realistic portrayal of an air traffic control monitor. Monitoring Times, a magazine which caters to amateur radio buffs, recently reviewed the gear and says it works as advertised, doesn't crash computers and can run on a modestly equipped PC. Kinetic makes distance measuring equipment (which is still a mandatory item for IFR in Europe, don't forget) and saw a potential market for small airports and operators who wanted to decode the data emitted by the Mode S and ADS-B transponders. Mode S kicks out transmission bursts that give identity and altitude information while ADS-B provides the GPS-derived position information that permits the virtual radar depiction. The system is not certified but it still got a ringing endorsement from Britain's Civil Aviation Authority, which, according to the Daily Telegraph, hailed it as a "major breakthrough for air safety." It sells for about $750. AVweb recently reported on another similar product currently on sale in the U.S.