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RCP0110_006-012_Hangar Talk 2/9/10 5:03 AM Page 10
FAA Controllers in Houston Begin Using Safer,
More Efficient Satellite-Based Tracking System
ADS-B Satellite-Based Tracking Allows Controllers to Monitor Air Traffic Over Gulf of Mexico
as 120 miles apart to ensure safety. Con-
trollers are now able to safely reduce the
separation between ADS-B equipped air-
craft to five nautical miles, significantly
improving capacity and efficiency. The
new technology will also allow the FAA
to provide new, more direct routes over
the Gulf of Mexico, improving the effi-
ciency of aircraft operations while using
less fuel.
The FAA was able to install ground sta-
tions on oil platforms as part of an agree-
ment with the Helicopter Association
International, oil and natural gas compa-
nies and helicopter operators. A network
of ground stations was deployed on oil
platforms and the surrounding shoreline,
bringing satellite-based surveillance to an
area with almost as much daily air traffic
as the northeast corridor.
The Gulf of Mexico is the second key
site where ADS-B is being used by con-
trollers to separate aircraft. The new tech-
nology is also being used by controllers
in Louisville, KY, chosen in part because
UPS voluntarily outfitted much of its fleet
Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) bon footprint.” with ADS-B avionics. Four ground sta-
Administrator Randy Babbitt announced ADS-B, which is one of the technolo- tions give controllers at the Louisville In-
recently that Houston air traffic controllers gies at the heart of the transformation to ternational Airport and the Louisville
are beginning to use an improved satel- NextGen, brings air traffic control to the Terminal Radar Approach Control facil-
lite-based system – Automatic Dependent Gulf of Mexico, an area that has not had ity an ADS-B coverage area extending 60
Surveillance-Broadcast (ADS-B) — to the benefit of radar coverage. Before nautical miles around the airport up to
more efficiently and safely separate and ADS-B, controllers had to rely on an air- 10,000 feet.
manage aircraft flying over the Gulf of craft’s estimated or reported — not actual Controllers in Philadelphia will begin
Mexico. — position. Individual helicopters flying using ADS-B in February and the system
“Safety is our highest priority at the under Instrument Flight Rule conditions will become operational in Juneau in
U.S. Department of Transportation, and at low altitudes to and from oil platforms April. ADS-B is expected to be available
this new satellite-based technology will were isolated within 20x20 mile boxes in nationwide by 2013.
help the FAA improve the safety of flights order to remain safely separated from The FAA first established an ADS-B
over the Gulf even as air traffic in- other helicopters. The complex, manual prototype in Alaska, outfitting numerous
creases,” said U.S. Transportation Secre- nature of these operations severely re- general aviation aircraft with ADS-B
tary Ray LaHood. duced capacity and efficiency for the avionics. The improved situational aware-
“This is a significant, early step toward 5,000 to 9,000 daily helicopter operations ness for pilots and extended coverage for
NextGen,” Administrator Babbitt said in a in the Gulf of Mexico. controllers resulted in a 47 percent drop
press conference at the Houston Air Route Aircraft equipped with ADS-B in the in the fatal accident rate for equipped air-
Traffic Control Center. “We’re deliver- region will now know where they are in craft. In South Florida, the installation of
ing, on time, a system that’s not only more relation to bad weather and receive flight eleven ground stations now gives pilots in
accurate than radar but comes with signif- information including Notice to Airmen equipped aircraft free traffic and weather
icant safety and efficiency benefits. This and Temporary Flight Restrictions. information. Controllers will soon begin
will save time and money for aircraft op- Prior to ADS-B, commercial aircraft using ADS-B in that region to separate
erators and passengers and reduce our car- flying at high altitudes were kept as much aircraft.

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