New technology AOPA is helping test may soon bring a new level of safety and convenience for general aviation pilots, AOPA President Phil Boyer told more than 200 delegates at the Radio Technical Commission for Aeronautics (RTCA) Spring Forum in Washington, D.C., on Tuesday.
Boyer's videotaped address used photos of automatic dependent surveillance-broadcast (ADS-B) screens to illustrate the advantages of the new technology for GA pilots. Among other things, ADS-B can offer real-time collision avoidance information, in-cockpit weather, and weather radar images superimposed on a moving-map GPS. "With the proper use of technology, we can have traffic and weather together, right in the cockpit," he told attendees.
He showed how the technology can alert pilots to impending collisions with terrain or obstructions, and even provide traffic information for ATC in areas where no ground radar coverage exists. "If I sound enthusiastic about the benefits of this new technology for GA pilots, it's because I am," said Boyer, a private pilot himself.
Later in the presentation, he showed how ADS-B could pinpoint an aircraft's position on an airport diagram and help pilots avoid runway incursions. With another photo, he showed how the moving map display could warn a pilot of rising terrain or obstructions.
Boyer also told RTCA delegates that GA pilots had legitimate concerns about the new technology, including continued airport access for non-ADS-B equipped aircraft, identification of aircraft flown VFR without ATC guidance, the cost of avionics and databases, and the transition timeline. Still, even with the concerns, he reported that 87 percent of aircraft owners and 60 percent of renters surveyed in his Pilot Town Meetings across the country say that datalink capability is important to them.
ADS-B tests are being conducted in Alaska, and AOPA has installed several units in aircraft at its Frederick, Maryland, headquarters.