All Satellite Based ATC System? Bad Idea....

RightSeatGirl

KA'PLAH BITCHES!
I just read about something that really isn't new news but it got me thinking about the issue more in depth. Many within the aviation community are asking the feds to completely digitize the ATC system and run it off a satellite based platform. Now I'm all for upgrading the ATC system, should have been done ten years ago..but....

Satellite based? I'm no so sure about that...Do we really want that kind of vulnerability in something that has a monumentally critical importance to our nations infrastructure as well as our national security? GPS itself is a vulnerable enough system. But running the whole of the ATC system off of floating little buoys of silicon, titanium, plastic and aluminum in orbit where advancing enemy states and the likely well-equipped terrorists of the not so distant future can blast em right to kingdom come?

Why does this not surprise me...

There are alternatives and as pilots we should be aware of them..

Presently the LORAN system is being revamped. Called Enhanced Loran, eLORAN, it's a digital version of a very accurate system - http://www.navcen.uscg.gov/eLoran/overview.htm .

There was also a proposal a many years back to digitize VOR's, called Wide Apature Digital VOR, and set them up to transmit the same way GPS sats do so that existing aircraft equipment could use them with no modification. Don't know why they didn't do this , perhaps cost at the time. But it seems now would be a good time to reconsider this type of setup..

Basically my point is I believe a new ATC system should be some form of advanced ground based system as I think a satellite based platform would be increasingly more vulnerable to attack.

Opinions?
 

skydog

New Member
There was a time when ATC was a guy standing on the ground at an airfield with binoculars and a signal flag, and navigation was a series of lighted towers spaced every few miles apart. I'm sure when the first four legged radio ranges and NDB's came online, people were asking the same questions that you did: "But what if...?"

Progress is not going to happen spontaneously, and/or without problems. But we must keep working on new ideas if progress is to occur. An all satellite system will no doubt have it's growing pains, just as the LORAN and VOR systems did.

We've had satellites in orbit for 50 years now, and to my knowledge, not one has ever been shot down or destroyed, certainly not by a band of terrorists from some 3rd world country. It can happen, but it seems unlikely. Yes, satellites do fail, and/or are taken off line. It happens now in the GPS environment. But the air transportation system doesn't come to a screeching halt when it does. That's because there are rules and procedures in place that overcome such discrepancies. Any new system that is developed would have similar redundancies.

It is good to "What if..." things to a certain extent. But it does reach the point of ridiculousness after a while. You can "What if" something to the point where no one in their right mind would ever fly again. There is always going to be a certain amount of risk associated with flying. People have to accept that.

The safest airplane is one that is on the ground, but that's not what airplanes were built for.
 

Maurus

The Great Gazoo
All I have to say is if we use satelites only and a national security issue occurs, say goodbye to our entire ATC system. The GPS system can be pulled at any time. the new loran would make more sense as it is relatively cheap to maintain and uses the same concept as GPS except it is ground based.
 

phoenix 23684

Well-Known Member
I worked on satellites and here's my take. I just can't see how the FAA and whoever is in bed with them for the money, say/justify that a satellite based ATC would be safer and allow for decongestion????
I personally think that ground radar is still far cheaper and easier to use and in most cases still provides the best accuracy, unless you require every aircraft to have a GPS WAAS enabled transponder, but satellites aren't cheap, don't last as long and are very intense to maintain, meaning you have to watch them 24 hrs a day.
They need to put radar antennas where there's a gap that's all. To put it in perspective it costs 20k-25k per pound to go to space and that's only to LEO, I would imagine this would be in GEO, so a lot more expensive. The satellites I worked on cost $1B and half of the cost was getting it up there.
Idiocracy:banghead::banghead: I'm sure people will support it out of ignorance, space is better.....:panic::panic:
 

jtrain609

Uniting the black vote.
You guys know this is just ADS-B, right? It's being tested in Alaska right now and Australia is already using it for air traffic control.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Automatic_dependent_surveillance-broadcast

And we've already got all our eggs in one basket with the current radar setup. One good EMP blast from space (which is just as likely as a terrorist knocking out a satellite. Seriously do ya'll know how complicated of a task that is?) and we'll have no radar either, and I doubt airplanes will be falling out of the skies at that point.
 

trafficinsight

Well-Known Member
It would seem to me that it would be better to replace existing radar facilities with equipment that's less than 30 years old instead of patching new software into computers that are older than I am. I also believe, though, that one of the driving factors is that satellite based tracking and control uses less bandwidth. So, couple that with tighter frequency spacing like they have in Europe and you're good. It seems like they're trying to say that radar is inadequate and that satellite will solve all this... I'm not buying that.

It's not the technology that's unreliable, it's the fact that the equipment is so damned old.

 

Tiger815

Well-Known Member
ADS-B will not be all sattelite based. All the system needs is a reliable source for postion data. GPS is one source, e-loran is another possibilty as is inertial nav, multilateration, DME-DME etc. The SBS program office is still looking into what will be acceptable substitiutes to GPS, but all the eggs will not be in one basket and there will always be some level of radar for non cooperative targets. (Probably run by DOD vs. DOT.)

The ADS-B system in Alaska under Capstone bears little to no resemblance to what will get deployed nationally. Capstone is primarily of benefit to GA (I work for the offfice that managed that work and the East Coast deployment before it was transferred to the Suveillence office) while the national deployment will likely be geared more towards the airlines (Suprise, suprise).
 

jtrain609

Uniting the black vote.
It won't be? Well then crap, I'm outta date! Not too surprising I guess, I'm kind of in a bubble right now for new aviation technology.

Carry on!
 

ppragman

FLIPY FLAPS!
ADS-B will not be all sattelite based. All the system needs is a reliable source for postion data. GPS is one source, e-loran is another possibilty as is inertial nav, multilateration, DME-DME etc. The SBS program office is still looking into what will be acceptable substitiutes to GPS, but all the eggs will not be in one basket and there will always be some level of radar for non cooperative targets. (Probably run by DOD vs. DOT.)

The ADS-B system in Alaska under Capstone bears little to no resemblance to what will get deployed nationally. Capstone is primarily of benefit to GA (I work for the offfice that managed that work and the East Coast deployment before it was transferred to the Suveillence office) while the national deployment will likely be geared more towards the airlines (Suprise, suprise).
ADS-B Up here works wonderfully. Its an amazing system as long as everyone participates. The problem with the system is the issue of enforcement, so guys will periodically turn their capstone off to get away with something.
 

bdhill1979

Gone West
We cannot go to an ALL satellite system, but one that will be ground and satellite based. There are too many inherent errors and potential problems (ephemeris errors, solar flares, military conflict, etc....) to make that work.

Now a combination of satellite and ground stations (Like WAAS for example) is what I think we will be seeing in the coming years.
 

Barty

Well-Known Member
GPS is actually MORE accurate than some ground based radar systems. GPS is accurate down to about a meter right now, some of the 70s ASRS probably resolves only as accurate as half a mile or more at the limit of its useful range from the information I've read. Not to mention lack of radar coverage in some areas, mechanical issues, etc...

A hybrid GPS/radar/Loran(?) system is probably what we'll end up with in the near term, with radar being used as a backup and/or to allow operation of aircraft in terminal areas that haven't yet converted to the necessary equipment to make it possible.
 
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