FAA Requiring All Flights to Have GPS Tracking System by 2020
April 15, 2014 1:25 PM
comment(s) - last by
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.
, 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.
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RE: About time
4/15/2014 4:54:13 PM
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
4/15/2014 9:16:05 PM
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.
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