DOT: ADS-B Falling Well Short of Promises

The FAA's progress on ADS-B implementation isn't going nearly as well as the agency would like us all to believe, according to a scathing report released yesterday by the Department of Transportation's Inspector General.

Despite completing installations of 634 ADS-B ground towers** "on time and on budget,"** the DOT report says the FAA has identified service coverage gaps that will require erecting 200 more towers at an additional cost of $258 million.

The document also notes that the FAA has determined taxpayer investments in ADS-B "now outweigh the projected benefits of the program by as much as $588 million." The report concludes that "it remains uncertain how and when the FAA will implement" advanced ADS-B capabilities, "and at what cost."

Technical glitches and incomplete software updates, meanwhile, have hamstrung ADS-B capabilities, making airlines wary of shelling out big money to equip airplanes with the NextGen gear.

The report also says the Defense Department has doubts about the FAA's ability to confront security challenges related to cyber threats against ADS-B infrastructure and avionics, a criticism that has been leveled at the $6.5 billion program in the past.

In the meantime, the FAA is urging aircraft operators to equip with ADS-B avionics by December 31, 2019, or face being grounded. The agency plans to hold an ADS-B "call to action" summit on October 28 underscoring the importance of scheduling ADS-B equipment installations well ahead of the 2020 mandate.

The FAA now has 30 days to respond to the DOT IG's report.

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