ADS-B is on its way and promises to change how you fly. While it’ll make our skies safer, it’s not always the easiest system to understand.


What is ADS-B?

ADS-B, or Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast, is a new technology allowing air traffic controllers to see traffic more precisely than ever before. Instead of relying on decades-old radar technology, ADS-B uses highly accurate GPS signals. As a result, ADS-B works where radar often doesn’t — even in remote areas or mountainous terrain. And because it can function at low altitudes and on the ground, it can also monitor traffic on airport taxiways and runways. However, air traffic controllers aren’t the only ones who will see the benefits of ADS-B. Aircraft with specific equipment can also receive ADS-B traffic and subscription-free weather information while flying over the U.S.

How does ADS-B work?

Under the NextGen Air Transportation System and Single European Sky (SES), properly equipped aircraft will broadcast their identity, position, track, speed, and other vital data via ADS-B “Out” technology. Air traffic control ground stations and ADS-B “In” equipped aircraft receive this information once every second. These ADS-B ground stations broadcast traffic information – and subscription-free weather in the U.S. – back up to properly equipped aircraft in the service area for display in the cockpit.

What are the benefits?

Air traffic controllers can reduce congestion, noise, emission, and fuel consumption through more efficient routing and resource management. Because the system can provide pilots access to detailed traffic information, ADS-B also represents a leap forward in pilot situational awareness and will significantly enhance the safety of all those in the air.

With optional ADS-B “In” equipment, adequately equipped aircraft can receive highly accurate traffic information directly from other aircraft and ADS-B signal corrections. In the U.S., they can also access graphical NEXRAD radar information and METARs, TAFs, and other subscription-free aviation weather information.

Learn More from: