FAA Completes Nationwide ADS-B Network

Hundreds of ground stations up and running.

Well ahead of the 2020 equipment mandate, the FAA says it has completed construction of a nationwide network of ADS-B ground stations, finishing installations of more than 600 special radio beacons from coast to coast — and beyond, in some cases — for the ongoing transition to the NextGen air traffic control system.

The ADS-B network of 634 towers enables controllers to track appropriately equipped aircraft continuously versus updates of nearly 5 seconds with radar technology. Controllers can also keep tabs on aircraft in remote regions such as mountains and over water in the Gulf of Mexico, where the sweep of radar isn’t available.

“The installation of this radio network clears the way for air traffic controllers to begin using ADS-B to separate equipped aircraft nationwide,” FAA Administrator Michael Huerta said. “It will also provide pilots flying aircraft equipped with the proper avionics with traffic information, weather data and other flight information.”

The FAA said it is currently using ADS-B to separate aircraft at 100 of 230 ATC facilities. Full use of ADS-B at all facilities is expected by 2019. All aircraft operating in controlled airspace must be equipped with ADS-B Out avionics that broadcast their location by Jan. 1, 2020. Aircraft operators may also choose to equip with ADS-B In equipment that can provide traffic information and free weather data.

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