FAA needs to provide continuous traffic uplink

November 18, 2009

AOPA on Nov. 10 requested that the FAA make traffic information continuously available for all aircraft equipped with Automatic Dependant Surveillance-Broadcast (ADS-B) “in” technology.

ADS-B is a key component of the FAA’s plan for transitioning to satellite-based technology for surveillance and navigation in the NextGen air transportation system. Currently, traffic and weather information are broadcast only to an aircraft using the ADS-B datalink when the aircraft transmits ADS-B information. With a minor configuration change, pilots equipped with receive-only Universal Access Transceiver (UAT) ADS-B systems would have immediate access to the safety and efficiency of Traffic Information Services-Broadcast (TIS-B).

Making TIS-B information available continuously on the UAT/978 MHz frequency would allow pilots to obtain the information with any UAT receiver and view traffic on a variety of displays, including lower-cost devices that do not also transmit data.

“TIS-B information provides the pilot with increased situational awareness and demonstrates the benefits of ADS-B technology,” said Heidi Williams, AOPA senior director of airspace and modernization. “The current practice of only broadcasting TIS-B information to aircraft that first transmit ADS-B ‘out’ limits the number of aircraft that can take advantage of the service.

“AOPA’s experience with ADS-B and TIS-B for nearly a decade confirms that continuously broadcast TIS-B is beneficial and valuable.”

The change would accelerate NextGen for general aviation while enhancing safety and utility, she added.