HAI Meets with Key NextGen Service Provider

HAI Meets with Key NextGen Service Provider

7-Jun-2012 Source: HAI

HAI President Matt Zuccaro and a team of HAI staff members met on Tues., June 5, with ITT Exelis at the company’s offices near Dulles International Airport outside Washington, D.C. to discuss the benefits of the Next Generation Air Traffic System (NextGen) to helicopter operators. ITT Exelis is the FAA’s prime contractor on ADS-B (automatic dependent surveillance-broadcast), the backbone of NextGen.

Key points of discussion were the benefits already being realized in the Gulf of Mexico, and plans for ADS-B in Hawaii and the North Shore of Alaska.

Installation and implementation of ADS-B in the continental United States and southern Alaska is proceeding well, with more than 700 ground stations operational. Other ground stations are under construction, including four on Alaska’s North Shore.

Current plans call for ADS-B to be operational in Hawaii, with its geographical challenges of high mountains and deep valleys, in late 2013. While detailed planning has not yet begun, ITT Exelis told HAI that placement of the ADS-B ground stations will be key in determining the amount of available coverage. Unlike aviation surveillance radars, ADS-B antennas have look-down capability, so if they are sited at higher elevations, they may be able to see deeper into valleys. Additionally, the service volumes of the antennas may provide significant coverage for inter-island flights while over water.

ITT Exelis’s contract allows the company to offer enhanced products that take advantage of ADS-B’s digital nature, allowing information to be transferred from the aircraft to the ground and vice versa, some of which it demonstrated during HAI’s visit.

One example comes from ITT Exelis client, Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University. The school’s Daytona Beach, Florida; and Prescott, Arizona campuses each have multiple practice areas, each divided vertically into a lower VFR and an upper IFR area. Each practice area is only supposed to have a single aircraft in it at a time, and, using a “geo-fencing” capability, the school can set a computer display of the airspace to change color if a second aircraft enters a particular practice area.

Another example is the ability for an airline to use the ADS-B data stream to push company-specific information up to its aircraft cockpits without the information being visible to competitors. The data stream might potentially be used to push an individual aircraft’s operating parameters back down to provide the company’s maintenance division with a real-time picture of the aircraft’s health.

While many of the add-on capabilities are currently aimed at fixed-wing air carriers, HAI intends to remain in contact with ITT Exelis to identify possible uses that could specifically benefit helicopter operators.

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