Acting FAA Administrator Bobby Sturgell told delegates attending the annual HAI Heli Expo in Houston that Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast (ADS-B) will be up and running for helicopters servicing offshore oil platforms in the Gulf of Mexico (and any other aircraft properly equipped) by the end of next year. Sturgell said the system designed by ITT is currently being evaluated and thats the last step before oil platforms are equipped with the gear to make the ground portion of the system work. Houston Center will get responsibility for using the ADS-B information to separate traffic in the Gulf, which doesnt have radar coverage.
Because of the lack of radar coverage, controllers have maintained 20 miles of separation (based on position reports) between aircraft. ADS-B will allow much closer separation limits while increasing safety and efficiency. Oil companies and helicopter companies are facilitating the installation of the equipment by flying crews to the platforms where space and power are being donated for the equipment.