uAvionix, CAP collaborate to expand low-altitude aircraft data for search and rescue missions

August 31, 2023  - By
Image: uAvionix

Image: uAvionix

uAvionix has partnered with Civil Air Patrol (CAP) to deploy a DO-260B-compliant, dual-band Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast (ADS-B) receiver network to complement Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) 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.

Through the leadership of CAP’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.

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 is a report of a possible missing aircraft or crash. Once the team is activated, analysis and actionable data can be provided in minutes to an incident commander, instead of the days or hours required before the team’s creation.

The FlightLine roll-out consists of several ATC 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 in the U.S. to have complete coverage down to 500 ft of altitude. The new ADS-B is rapidly expanding to other CAP wings across the U.S.

“The introduction of ADS-B has resulted in a significant improvement of general aviation safety,” said Christian Ramsey, managing director, uAvionix. “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 receivers where additional coverage is needed. Young said his team will prioritize areas where existing coverage is weak.

For more information and to register your squadron for a FlightStation unit, click here.

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