What You're Spending $1.8 Billion On

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The FAA has decided who to saddle with hundreds of millions of dollars and the responsibility to install the ground-based portion of the Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast (ADS-B) system. It has awarded ITT a contract worth up to $1.8 billion to deploy upwards of 700 ground stations that will one day "run more aircraft safely and with more efficiency," according to FAA deputy administrator, Robert A. Sturgell. Losing out in this phase were rivals Raytheon and Lockheed Martin.

But $1.8 billion is just the beginning. ITT only won the right to build, own and maintain the ADS-B ground stations, many of which will likely find homes in AT&T cellphone towers (AT&T is a contract partner). The complete "next-gen" system is projected to cost near $15 billion over the next decade. For ITT's part, the ground stations aren't expected to be completed until 2013 -- and you likely won't be required to have ADS-B in your airplane until sometime around 2020.