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It will fill in the spots radar can't reach

After a recent missing Malaysian Airlines flight, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has decided to mandate GPS-based aircraft tracking on planes. 

According to 9 News, the FAA will require that all planes have a GPS tracking system called Automatic Dependent Surveillance Broadcast (ADS-B) radio network by 2020. 

ADS-B allows controllers to monitor an aircraft using GPS satellite tracking instead of current ground-based radar. The problem with radar is that it doesn't cover some spots around the world, and ADS-B will make sure those particular spots are accounted for (as well as everywhere else around the globe). 

Currently, only 100 of the 230 air traffic facilities across the country use ADS-B. But by 2020, all will be onboard. The U.S. already has the ground stations in place for their use, so now it's just a matter of equipping planes with the system. 

In addition to tracking planes, the new system will also provide pilots with more accurate, real time information, like weather, when in flight. 

Sources: 9 News, ADS-B Technologies

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About time
By bildan on 4/15/2014 2:40:32 PM , Rating: 2
Sport pilots now have Delorme Inreach GPS trackers which relay position and altitude reports in near real time via satellite to the Internet.

These have proven to work extremely well in gliders and light aircraft even when they're just tossed on the glare shield. You can watch glider flights as they happen by going to: and clicking on "Live Sailplane Tracker" on the right side. (Obviously more flights on weekends)

If a weekend pilot-hobbyest can afford $300 a year surely the airlines can.

RE: About time
By Jeffk464 on 4/15/2014 3:13:13 PM , Rating: 2
Yeah, its not necessarily that Malaysian airlines didn't want the boeing data tracking system because of cost. Any type of system like that can turn around a bite a company with negligent lawsuits, that's why they need to be mandated.

RE: About time
By Solandri on 4/15/2014 4:54:13 PM , Rating: 2
Commercial airliners have a transponder, a satellite ELT (emergency locator transmitter) which triggers upon high g-forces (e.g. a crash onto land). In case of a water crash, they have EPIRBs which automatically activate when wet (though I think the slides have to be inflated or else it'll just sink with the plane). Private planes generally don't have any of these, so a system which constantly tracks their location makes more sense as a cheaper substitute.

The most sensible modification I can think of for commercial airliners is to make at least one EPIRB the type which ejects/slides out of the plane upon submersion, and continues to transmit while floating. While ADS-B would be a good backup, I suspect it'll suffer the same problem as the transponder - it can be manually turned off. In fact both the cockpit voice recorder and the flight data recorder can be powered off manually by pulling circuit breakers (they interpret the loss of power as a crash so cease recording to prevent overwriting data). So if it was a deliberate act by the pilot(s), even finding the recorders may not provide us with any answers. ELTs and EPIRBs cannot be turned off unless they're sabotaged before being installed.

RE: About time
By bildan on 4/15/2014 9:16:05 PM , Rating: 2
Unfortunately, EPIRB and ELT's tell you nothing at all until the airplane crashes and then they may not work. A tracker leaves a "breadcrumb" trail even if everything is OK. If an airplane vanishes, you have a very good idea where to start looking.

RE: About time
By sorry dog on 4/15/2014 8:28:08 PM , Rating: 2
Previously the FAA said ADS-b out was required for pretty much all traffic flying in controlled airspace. However, if they are now saying that all planes have to have ADS-b out all the time then that is a big deal and really screws over the general aviation community. I mean they really want a 60 year old Piper Cub or 1970 Cessna 150 to retrofit these instruments for the occasional flight in the middle of nowhere. From the wording of this article I'm not sure and I will be looking it up later tonight after taxes are mailed. I sure wish Tiffany would have done a little more research for this article.

BTW- Is it just me or is the police state of tracking everybody and everything really accelerating in the last couple of years. It's now like you read the new and every week some new program, database, or requirement is coming all in the name of security. It really makes sad to see how close we are really coming to the book 1984 ... It seems Mr. Orwell might have had it right after all, just 30 years too soon.

RE: About time
By sorry dog on 4/17/2014 11:14:37 AM , Rating: 2
If a weekend pilot-hobbyest can afford $300 a year surely the airlines can.

I'm sorry to say it like this but you really have no idea what your talking about.

The Garmin GDL-88 is about as cheap as it goes right now for part 23 GA aircraft at $4,000 plus installation which may not even include the antenna much less installation.

I'm not you, but 5 grand ain't chump change to keep flying especially with potentially large costs coming soon with 100LL phase out.

General aviation is an important sector of the U.S. transportation system, and if the FAA regulates it to being a rich man's (more than it already is anyway) then there will be consequences to other parts of aviation.

RE: About time
By MarksCorner on 4/17/2014 12:42:28 PM , Rating: 2
The $300 reference is about a GPS tracker. You can buy a handheld or even a dash mount for an aircraft. Compared to ADS-B, they are far less expensive but I believe it only provides GPS position data and nothing else. As an inexpensive position tracking device, yes, it is cheap compared to ADS-B installation. However, it does not have the same capability. A few years ago, a helicopter flying in a remote area crashed. It had one of these dashmount systems. Homebase was receiving the position data, and was able to launch a rescue effort before the pilot could have done anything. But again, it is not nor could it be an ADS-B replacement.

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