November 2007 Issue

Can ADS-B Work?

How things might have been if wed started from scratch with GPS, the current architecture, FAAs announced plans and the new proposal.

Imagine your electronic map shows exactly where you are in relation to the nearest airports, navaids and airspace. Being GPS-based, the system behind that display knows exactly where you are in three-dimensional space to within the distance between your head and a big toe. Every other plane around you has the same information with the same accuracy. Now, imagine the systems behind the displays are talking to one another, sharing all their data. As a result, each system knows and displays the exact location of all the others, in a dynamic, real-time symphony of motion. Finally, imagine all that information from every plane in this symphony is also fed to ATC. Now, the orchestra is complete with a conductor responsible for guiding the music through the score in an ordered progression of graceful harmony from the softest pianissimo through the frenetic crescendo.

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