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Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Rotorcraft Report: FAA to Start ADS-B Testing in the Gulf of Mexico

PRODUCTS | AVIONICS

The FAA plans to begin testing the Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast (ADS-B) communications, navigation, and surveillance system this year.

The tests are be carried out are on a system of transponders placed on oil rigs in the Gulf of Mexico.

If implementation in the Gulf is successful, the nationwide system would start operations in early 2009.

Currently in the Gulf, operations can reach 220 mi offshore along 5,000 mi of coast, while radar coverage only reaches out 100 mi. HAI President Matt Zuccaro and other industry leader view ADS-B as a critical solution for the hundreds of helicopter flights that criss-cross the Gulf servicing offshore platforms. Those flights today largely operate beyond range of air traffic controllers and weather reporting. ADS-B would put them back in touch, its advocates say.

According to the FAA, when flying under IFR conditions today operators can see a 95 percent drop in productivity from their helicopter fleets. With the ADS-B system in operation, IFR conditions will be significantly less difficult. — Evan Sweetman

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