NextGen Now Online In Philadelphia

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Air traffic controllers in the Philadelphia area now have ADS-B services up and running, the FAA said this week. "This new technology is a tremendous leap forward in transforming the current air traffic control system," said FAA Administrator Randy Babbitt. "The operational benefits in Philadelphia extend as far as Washington, D.C., and New York, which has some of the most congested airspace in the world." The satellite-based NextGen system provides more precise data to controllers, who can then more safely and efficiently separate traffic. Using ADS-B (automatic dependent surveillance-broadcast) technology, controllers get one-second update rates on their scopes, compared to four-and-a-half second update rates with radar. Potentially, they will be able to reduce separation in the en route environment from the current five nautical miles to three miles, the FAA said.

Philadelphia is the fourth airport to start using the technology. Pilots flying aircraft equipped with ADS-B know precisely where they are and are able to see other properly equipped aircraft. They also have access to better weather data and receive flight information such as Notams and TFR locations electronically. General aviation advocates have raised concerns about the costs and benefits of the system for GA users. ADS-B is expected to be available nationwide by 2013, and the FAA has proposed that all aircraft should install ADS-B avionics by 2020.

Related Content:
Avionics trainer and CFII Paul K. Sanchez gives a skeptic's view of ADS-B implementation in a guest blog on the AVweb Insider.