"The Future Of ATC" ADS-B Will Be Back On In Alaska

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Next Thursday, air traffic controllers in Anchorage can resume the use of ADS-B information to separate traffic in the remote Bethel, Aniak, and St. Mary's areas of southern Alaska, the FAA says. The service was discontinued last month while the FAA reviewed its separation standards. The FAA now says ADS-B targets will be separated from each other by a minimum of five nautical miles. But non-radar separation standards will be applied between an ADS-B target and a radar target. That is, the "procedural" methods now being used, as if there were no target on the scopes, will remain in place. On July 15, the FAA will begin an operational evaluation to determine what minimum separation standard it will accept between an ADS-B target and a radar target. On or about Aug. 15, the FAA plans to expand the operational validation of mixed ADS-B and radar procedures to the Dillingham and King Salmon areas. ADS-B has been deployed in Alaska as part of the Capstone project to provide radar-like services in areas where no radar is available. The ADS-B signals appear on ATC scopes as different-colored targets, to distinguish them from true radar returns. The Capstone project has been credited for dramatic safety improvements in Alaska, and the FAA has committed to expanding the use of the system in the lower 48.