New system to improve GoM aircraft management, says FAA

Houston air traffic controllers now are using the Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast (ADS-B) system to separate and manage aircrafts flying over the Gulf of Mexico.

Offshore staff

HOUSTON -- Houston air traffic controllers now are using the Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast (ADS-B) system to separate and manage aircrafts flying over the Gulf of Mexico.

“Safety is our highest priority at the US Department of Transportation, and this new satellite-based technology will help the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) improve the safety of flights over the Gulf even as air traffic increases,” says US Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood.

ADS-B brings improved satellite-based air traffic control to the GoM, an area that has not previously had radar coverage. Before ADS-B, controllers had to rely on an aircraft’s estimated or reported position. Individual helicopters flying under Instrument Flight Rule conditions at low altitudes to and from oil platforms were isolated within 20 x 20 mi (32 x 32 km) boxes to remain safely separated. These complex, manual operations reduced capacity and efficiency for the 5,000 to 9,000 daily helicopter operations in the region, the FAA says.

Aircraft equipped with ADS-B will now receive flight information including Notice to Airmen and Temporary Flight Restrictions.

“Safety is our highest priority at the US Department of Transportation, and this new satellite-based technology will help the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) improve the safety of flights over the Gulf even as air traffic increases,” says US Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood.

Prior to ADS-B, commercial aircraft flying at high altitudes were kept as much as 120 mi (193 km) apart to ensure safety. Controllers are now able to reduce the separation between ADS-B equipped aircraft to 5 nautical miles. The new technology also allows the FAA to provide new, more direct routes over the GoM.

The FAA installed ground stations on oil platforms and the surrounding shoreline as part of an agreement with the Helicopter Association International, oil and natural gas companies, and helicopter operators. A network of ground stations was deployed on oil platforms.


01/13/2010

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