CAP, uAvionix Partner to Expand Low-Altitude Aircraft Data for Search and Rescue
Civil Air Patrol and uAvionix Corp. have partnered to deploy a DO-260B-compliant, dual-band Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast (ADS-B) receiver network to complement Federal Aviation Administration sensor data with low-altitude aircraft positions in support of CAP’s radar analysis mission.
The ADS-B receiver technology — already in use in Virginia — is designed to shorten the accident-to-rescue time in the National Radar Analysis Team’s search and rescue efforts.
The radar analysis team “has been working several years to test small ADS-B receivers to place at locations with limited FAA coverage,” said Lt. Col. Mark Young, the team’s commander. “The availability of these new receivers, built to RTCA aviation certification standards, and its subsequent real-time data from FlightLine data available to Civil Air Patrol, is a significant advancement for our team.
“Real-time data at lower altitudes significantly improves the team’s ability to provide a fast and accurate location of missing aircraft that can be used to support CAP’s emergency services search and rescue mission and will result in lives saved,” Young said.
Through the leadership of Civil Air Patrol’s Virginia Wing, members throughout the state have assisted uAvionix in locating suitable receiver sites and supported the installation of small, low-weight FlightStation ADS-B receivers at various airports in the state.
The dual-mode (1090 MHz and 978 MHz) FlightStations receive transponder data from aircraft, which is centrally received and transmitted to the radar team server at Maxwell Air Force Base, Alabama, where it’s combined with FAA sensor data.
The CAP team uses FAA data and advanced technologies in its search and rescue efforts. The team is activated by the Air Force Rescue Coordination Center when there’s a report of a possible missing aircraft or accident.
Once the team is activated, analysis and actionable data can be provided in minutes to a CAP incident commander, instead of the days or hours required before the team’s creation. The incident commander and aircrews use the team’s radar analysis to conduct their searches.
The uAvionix roll-out consists of several air traffic control-grade ADS-B receivers with overlapping coverage, allowing for validation of transmitted ADS-B data and pinpoint multilaterated positions. Traditional ADS-B and radar concentrate mostly on airports and higher altitudes in support of air traffic control.
Most other available data sources largely exclude coverage for 978Mhz transponders, typically used by general aviation aircraft. Virginia is the first state to have 100% coverage down to 500 feet of altitude. This new ADS-B technology is rapidly expanding to other CAP wings.
“UAvionix is proud to work together with CAP to improve low-altitude data availability for this important public service,” said Christian Ramsey, the company’s managing director.
“The introduction of ADS-B has resulted in a significant improvement of general aviation safety, expanding on the FAA coverage at lower altitude and for UAT [universal access transceiver] transponders typically carried by general aviation will further enhance the tools used in safety of life activities such as CAP‘s emergency services mission.”
The radar analysis team is calling on all CAP squadrons to volunteer to host and install additional FlightStation receivers where additional coverage is needed. Young said his team will prioritize the areas where coverage is weak and follow up appropriately with squadrons that volunteer to support the units.
For more information and to register your squadron for a receiver, visit uAvionix online.