Print 29 comment(s) - last by drycrust3.. on Apr 17 at 3:16 PM

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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RE: Old news.
By Solandri on 4/15/2014 4:38:33 PM , Rating: 2
but then the main electrical supply failed completely, so the flight controls also failed, and the plane just flew on and on.

The flight controls don't fail in a power failure. A little propeller called a RAT (ram air turbine) pops out. The plane's forward velocity spins the prop, which runs a generator powering just a few crucial instruments and hydraulic power for the important flight control surfaces (no flaps, slats, spoilers). While the 777 is fly-by-wire, it still retains mechanical backups for the flight controls. Boeing's philosophy is that the pilots should have the ultimate say in how the airplane is controlled, so it's possible to completely turn off/fry the computers and fly with only mechanical linkages between the controls and the flight surfaces (though you still need hydraulic boost, which the RAT provides).

Also note that on AC143 and TS236, the radio continued to function despite the loss of power.

RE: Old news.
By Samus on 4/16/2014 3:12:32 AM , Rating: 2
Until MH370, I think the world (myself included) was stunned at how easily a flight can be lost. Most people seemed to be under the impression flights had been tracked via GPS or GLONASS for decades.

I'm also ok with this system increasing fees to be implemented. The extra $0.20 cents on my ticket to assure the flight will be found and my family given an answer in the event of a disaster, while also aiding flight telemetry and air traffic, is money well spent.

I really see no argument here except from people who just want to argue. MH370 is just a depressing disaster, and its outcome, whatever that will be, is going to make air travel even safer.

RE: Old news.
By chripuck on 4/16/2014 8:47:16 AM , Rating: 2
How can you be stunned?

Is it really so hard to understand that when you're a thousand miles over open water you have nowhere to transmit your GPS coordinates to?

Yes, recent advent in satellite transmission capabilites means we can now transmit these coordinates over satellite, but there are 93,000 flights per day around the globe. We'd saturate the entire satellite network with GPS coordinates alone

RE: Old news.
By typicalGeek on 4/16/2014 6:51:46 PM , Rating: 2
How would a mere 93,000 flight transmitting VERY LITTLE information "saturate the entire satellite network with GPS coordinates alone"?

Let's do some SIMPLE math shall we? Let's say each plane updates its position once a minute. That would only take a transmission (even with some error checking, ID number, handshake, etc.) of perhaps 128 bytes. If you multiply that by all those 93,000 flight you're only talking about 12 megs of data for ALL flights to be captured every minute. Do you realize that simply taking a few pictures on your ONE cell phone and sending them to grandma can use much more data than that?

Do you have ANY idea how much data is being pushed up to, for example, even ONE of the DirectTV satellites to provide subscribers access to HUNDREDS of channels, many in HD?

Very little information is needed for GPS data. Head over to and feed it some pairs of random real numbers between -89.99999 and 89.99999 (as a pair, separated by a comma). You'll be able to get to within a couple of feet of ANY point on the planet with just 20 characters or less. Note that if you randomly pick something that's not over land (better odds than over land), you may have to zoom out quite a bit to see anything but blue.

RE: Old news.
By MarksCorner on 4/17/2014 12:33:36 PM , Rating: 2
Actually, the technology and Satellite infrastructure already exists to support ADS-B overwater. Globalstar has already proposed their system for such use and has an ADS-B box ready for certification. Inmarsat is another option as could possibly be ARINC and SITA. I can see a priority of transmission being established just like with ACARS based on your location - overland, transmit to ground sites, and over remote areas, transmit to satellites.

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