Other nations should help pay for technology

newsroom@islandpacket.comApril 30, 2014 

Since the U.S. is developing a new air traffic control system, much of which all nations can use to their benefit, how is it that we do not provide this service on a fee basis or ask other nations to share in its cost?

When Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 disappeared in March, the world became acutely aware of limitations in aircraft following and surveillance. A new level of urgency has been placed on our new air traffic control program now in its development phase. The world's airlines are in the process of adapting to this new satellite-based technology that will replace radar as the primary tracking method for aircraft. The system, Automatic Dependent Surveillance -Broadcast (ADS-B) uses a transmitter installed aboard aircraft to stream position and velocity data, via satellite, to operations control centers and other aircraft. Since it uses GPS, ADS-B can pinpoint all planes to within a few meters.

Our plan is to launch 66 new satellites by 2017 and the ground stations, 650 of them, will all be activated by that time. The hardware for the program is being manufactured now, but to implement the capability, the airlines must pay about $100,000 for installation of the equipment in each of their airplanes. The FAA and other government agencies have mandated that this addition be done by 2020. The total cost of this program is many billions of dollars, which must be covered by tax dollars and future ticket sales.

Robert Denn

Hilton Head Island

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