Space-based ADS-B… the future for general aviation in Canada?
At some point last fall, I saw a presentation for the Aireon satellite flight-tracking system. This system uses Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast (ADS-B) technology. Ok, so Transport Canada has not mandated any use of ADS-B. Yet. But just about all the rest of the world is planning to use it. It’s a question of time before ADS-B is introduced into the country, at what level, where and when, I couldn’t tell. But it’s a bit like the metric system that made its way around the vast majority of the globe.
The presentation was done by Nav Canada. They are the major partner in Aireon. One of the services offered is the Aircraft Locating and Emergency Response Tracking (ALERT). Taken from the website: “Aireon ALERT will be the only solution that has a true global coverage including oceanic, polar and remote airspace and will provide GPS location and real-tie tracking data to assist rescue coordination centers in emergency situations.”
The goal of this satellite-based service is to put an end to not finding aircraft anymore, such as Malaysia Airlines’ MH370 or other airplanes that were not found. By the way, MH370 had four 406MHz Emergency Locator Transmitters (ELT) on board, and no signal was received from any of them. Nothing at all. And we have yet to find anything, after thousands of hours and millions of dollars spent on the search. See where I’m going with this? Seeing this technology emerge and to soon become reality is encouraging. I told myself that if this could be done for commercial aircraft around the world, what’s preventing it from being applied to private or general aviation? In our response to the Notice of Proposed Amendment 2015-013 mandating 406 ELTs, we suggest using a performance-based approach and not a prescriptive one. In fact, a section of our recommendation #5 states: “Encouraging and using commercial services for alerting is better than requiring one specific technology that may grow outdated as technology progresses”. This is exactly it!
Right now, it’s a technical race between something that arbitrarily works (ELTs) and something that will most always work as long as your ADS-B transponder transmits, and give you a much better chance of being found should something happen. Of course the technology needs to be refined for our aircraft, for our use and a little more work needs to be done. The system will be in place in 2018 for the airliners and perhaps commercial aircraft that move in the flight levels and it is a great opportunity to keep a close eye on the ongoing developments to see how we can get to this performance-based approach for our members and pilots.
In the meantime, we still encourage everyone to use an ELT, personal locator beacons or any other means such as portable devices for alerting search and rescue.
The future of our freedom to fly is in your hands
In this month’s Plane Talk , Tim Cole addresses an important issue, for which we cannot say enough. Tim talks about BC and Yukon, but it applies to all of the country. And it is recurring. In June 2015, Tim also wrote on a similar subject, that airports are also a community of their own, like a family: “…it takes hard work, a willingness from all stakeholders, support from the community and good leadership to make a successful airport”
Along those lines, in my November 2015 column I wrote: “I strongly suggest that whenever an event is held at your airport, such as COPA for kids, a fly-in or some other public activity, an invitation is extended to your local Chamber of Commerce people, the elected officials, and the media to witness the benefits of a local airport.”
Preserving our freedom to fly starts with preserving our aerodromes and our airports.
Coming up in 2016
We will be doing our survey, where we will poll a significant number of members, to get your feeling as to what’s good and not so good for your association. Also look for new and exciting news for COPA, new advertisers, special features in our paper, some major work on our website.
Happy new year!