Two high-ranking officials from the Civil Air Patrol's national headquarters visited AOPA recently, to see for themselves the advantages of combining a multipurpose datalink with a multifunction cockpit display.
AOPA Senior Director of Advanced Technology Randy Kenagy took CAP Executive Director Col. Al Allenback (USAF-Ret.) and Director of Operations Lt. Col. John Salvador (USAF-Ret.) for a demonstration flight in an aircraft equipped for automatic dependent surveillance-broadcast, or ADS-B.
ADS-B technology transmits an aircraft's GPS-derived position, altitude, airspeed, and projected track via datalink to other aircraft similarly equipped and to ground stations. The datalink capabilities also allow ground stations to uplink information about transponder-equipped non-ADS-B aircraft using the FAA's traffic information system-broadcast (TIS-B) system, as well as both textual and graphical weather data via the flight information system-broadcast (FIS-B) system.
"ADS-B appears to be a cost-effective convergence of technologies that greatly enhances safety and situational awareness for the pilot," said Col. Allenback. "Being able to 'see' traffic, terrain, and thunderstorms together makes ADS-B a remarkable tool that will improve general aviation safety."
"Many of the Civil Air Patrol's missions are flown low and slow," said Kenagy. "As CAP considers its options for the future, ADS-B is one that can significantly improve situational awareness and mission safety.
"Through its cadet program and flight training available to its adult members, CAP introduces teens and young adults to general aviation and its wide variety of emerging avionics technologies. AOPA was privileged to demonstrate the benefits of ADS-B to such an important organization within the aviation community."
The Civil Air Patrol is the civilian auxiliary of the U.S. Air Force. CAP conducts 85 percent of the aerial search-and-rescue missions flown in the United States, using a fleet of some 500 aircraft nationwide. Approximately 100 of those aircraft are in the eastern United States, where they could take advantage of the FAA's planned limited roll-out of ADS-B over the next couple of years.
ADS-B has been tested extensively as part of the FAA's Capstone project in Alaska and proven its benefits in a state where terrain and distances limit air traffic control radar coverage. The FAA is now moving from a proof-of-concept demonstration to statewide implementation.