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WACO aircraft to be NextGen capable

January 8, 2013, 05:34 pm

WACO YMF-5D aircraft will now feature full ADS-B NexGen capability with new Garmin GDL 88 ADS-B data-link, Garmin GTN 750 and Garmin GTN 635 Touchscreen navigators, as aircraft manufacturers ready planes for the FAA NextGen system.

According to WACO company officials, 60 ADS-B traffic targets can now be displayed with the Garmin GDL 88 data-link. Garmin's new TargetTrend relative motion technology, as well as spoken audio alerts, let pilots more effectively judge target trajectories and closing rates of an aircraft's position.

Implementation of the Next Generation Air Transportation System, the largest aviation investment in U.S. history, is currently underway by the Federal Aviation Administration. NextGen will replace the old ground-based radar systems and instead let aircraft use satellite global positioning systems, allowing air traffic controllers to handle more planes at once. It is expected to reduce air traffic by as much as 10 percent once fully in place.

Last month, the FAA and the Colorado Department of Transportation installed NextGen technology called Wide Area Multilateration near Montrose Regional Airport in Colorado to help pilots better deal with poor weather in the area.

In addition, the technology allows air traffic controllers to better track aircraft in mountainous areas, whereas before the NextGen technology was implemented, radar would lose a plane's location in the mountainous terrain.

“Safety is our highest priority, and this is an excellent example of state and federal governments working together to not only improve safety and efficiency, but also provide immediate economic benefits,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood. “The new technology will help local businesses that depend on private and commercial aviation.”

The installation of the Wide Area Multilateration is part of the Colorado Surveillance Project, which started as a partnership between the FAA and CDOT in 2009, when the two began placing radar-like devices in mountainous regions. 

“This system will allow pilots to fly search and rescue missions in weather conditions that would have previously kept them grounded,” said FAA Administrator Michael Huerta. “It also will support Colorado’s tourism by enabling pilots to land in conditions that previously caused diversions or flight delays.”

The NextGen initiative shows promise for the aviation industry's future. Still, no matter how advanced technology becomes in ensuring pilot safety, it is always good to have pilot life insurance as a backup plan.

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