AOPA gets its name on Collier Trophy

June 13, 2008

Glenn Curtiss. Howard Hughes. Chuck Yeager. Neil Armstrong. The Boeing Company. NASA.

These are distinguished names along the historic timeline of American aviation progress, engraved on aviation’s most prestigious award. Now the next time you visit the National Air and Space Museum, you’ll find AOPA’s name on the 800-pound Collier Trophy, along with 25 other associations, corporations, universities, and government agencies that are part of the team that is developing and nurturing ADS-B (automatic dependent surveillance-broadcast) technology.

The award was presented on June 12 in Washington, D.C. by the National Aeronautic Association.

The Robert J. Collier Trophy is presented “for the greatest achievement in aeronautics or astronautics in America with respect to improving the performance, efficiency, and safety of air or space vehicles.”

And ADS-B certainly has the potential to do that. ADS-B can allow both pilots and controllers to have much better, real-time views of aviation traffic. It can work in places where radar is not available or unworkable. Not only can pilots see a display (TIS-B, traffic information system-broadcast) of all other aircraft around them, they can also get weather information and graphics uplinked directly to the cockpit.

ADS-B could help reduce the risk of runway collisions, because pilots and controllers could see the precise location both aircraft and ground vehicles on runway maps. The greater accuracy of ADS-B could help make the air traffic control system more efficient, better able to handle more aircraft. ADS-B has been called the “backbone” of the NextGen ATC modernization effort.

“AOPA is proud to have worked on the ADS-B team, and to have helped create a vision for NextGen that holds the promise to truly revolutionize general aviation flying,” said AOPA President Phil Boyer. “An affordable combination of GPS, moving-map displays, and datalinked weather and traffic information could significantly improve both safety and utility, enabling an all-weather transportation system serving virtually every airport in every corner of the nation.”

Boyer noted that AOPA has advocated a space-based navigation and communication system for nearly 20 years, “beginning back when the conventional wisdom said that GPS would remain exclusively military and too costly for civilian use. Properly and affordably implemented, ADS-B is the next logical step in this progression.”