ADS-B is now installed nationwide, the FAA said on Monday, although services won’t be available at all air traffic facilities until 2019. “The installation of this radio network clears the way for air traffic controllers to begin using ADS-B to separate equipped aircraft nationwide,” said FAA Administrator Michael Huerta in a statement. “It will also provide pilots flying aircraft equipped with the proper avionics with traffic information, weather data and other flight information.” Of the 230 air traffic facilities across the country, 100 are currently using ADS-B to separate traffic, according to the FAA. All aircraft operating in controlled airspace must be equipped with ADS-B Out avionics that broadcast the plane’s location by Jan. 1, 2020.
With the upgraded system now in place, once aircraft are equipped with ADS-B Out transponders, aircraft positions on controller screens will update almost continuously, compared to every 4.7 seconds or longer with radar. ADS-B also enables more accurate tracking of airplanes and airport vehicles on runways and taxiways. The new system significantly improves surveillance capability in areas with geographic challenges like mountains or over water. Airplanes equipped with ADS-B In, which is not currently mandated, will give pilots information through cockpit displays about location in relation to other aircraft, bad weather and terrain, and temporary flight restrictions. The FAA said last month that of an estimated 157,000 aircraft that will need to install the ADS-B equipment, fewer than 3,500 have done so.