ADS-B In The Real World ... In Oz...

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A Technological Milestone?

Is Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast (ADS-B) destined to become the modern equivalent of Mode C? Australia seems to be moving in that direction with implementation of a large-scale test of the technology in GA aircraft. Airservices Australia has called for proposals for a project that would equip 1,500 GA aircraft with the electronic tattletales, which automatically broadcast the precise position and identification of the aircraft once a second. Ground stations and similarly equipped aircraft can receive the signals, telling them exactly where ADS-B-equipped aircraft are flying. And there's the rub. Unlike passive systems, like ground-based radar, aircraft must have the electronics on board to show up on screens. Australia, in the long term, wants ADS-B to be "the primary means of ground-to-air and air-to-air surveillance in Australian en route airspace" and that means any aircraft using that airspace will have to be equipped. Some airlines have already put in the gear but it's rare in GA aircraft. The new Australian program will involve installing the avionics in aircraft that frequent busy airports that are outside the country's limited radar coverage. The tender documents call for the successful bidder to come up with "certified, low weight, low installed cost" units and provide ongoing support in the four test locations.