New technology now available will help pilots better cope with bad weather in the mountains near Montrose, in the western part of Colorado, the FAA said this week. The Wide Area Multilateration (WAM) system makes it possible for air traffic controllers to track aircraft in mountainous areas that lack radar coverage, the FAA said. "This system will allow pilots to fly search and rescue missions in weather conditions that would have previously kept them grounded," said Michael Huerta, acting FAA administrator. The system also will enable pilots to land in conditions that previously caused diversions or flight delays, Huerta said.
WAM is a NextGen technology that tracks aircraft using a network of small sensors deployed in remote areas, the FAA said. Aircraft transponders receive and send back signals to these sensors. System computers immediately analyze those signals and determine the aircraft's precise location. The system has also been deployed in Alaska and in Canada. WAM is being used in the near-term until ADS-B is fully deployed, according to the FAA. WAM will then serve as a backup to ADS-B in case of a GPS outage, and also will provide an additional surveillance source for ADS-B traffic broadcasts.