In a collaboration that merges ADS-B aviation technology with advances in public service through aviation, the Civil Air Patrol (CAP) and uAvionix Corporation have entered a partnership that brings a dual band Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast (ADS-B) receiver network to the National Radar (NRAT) mission. This initiative aims to dramatically reduce response times in search and rescue operations, potentially saving lives in critical situations.
Civil Air Patrol Squadrons across Virginia have partnered with uAvionix in the establishment of strategically positioned ADS-B receiver sites. These lightweight FlightStation receivers, operating in both 1090MHz and 978MHz modes, intercept transponder data from aircraft flying at low altitudes. This data is then integrated into the NRAT server at Maxwell Air Force Base, enhancing capabilities when paired with FAA sensor data.
The NRAT is a vital component of the CAP’s Emergency Services mission, standing ready to respond when a missing aircraft or crash is reported. Once activated by the Air Force Rescue Coordination Center (AFRCC), the NRAT team can promptly provide analysis and actionable insights to Incident Commanders. This swift response is a marked improvement from the previous timelines, making the difference between swift action and prolonged uncertainty.
This technological advancement, known as the FlightLine roll-out, offers a network of precision-grade ADS-B receivers with overlapping coverage. This redundancy ensures the validation of transmitted ADS-B data and the determination of multilateral positions. This innovative approach complements the traditional focus of radar and ADS-B on airports and higher altitudes, providing comprehensive coverage even at altitudes as low as 500 feet.
Aerial mobility stands to benefit from such collaborations as ADS-B data being stitched to national airspace system data will allow for more integrated and efficient use of existing airspace, which means that more aircraft can operate in the same given area while safely deconflicting flight paths from one another. Further, the partnership will also allow for early data to be obtained that proves the combination of data sources is possible.
Why it’s important: In the realm of search and rescue, every moment counts. CAP’s partnership with uAvionix marks a significant step toward rapid, effective response in critical situations. Further, the partnership will allow for early data acquisition and proving of transponder stitching schema that have great potential to increase situational awareness and aviation traffic densities in congested airspace.