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ADS-B Could Improve Collision Avoidance Reliability

September 1, 2011  By Carey Fredericks

Sept. 1, 2011, Cambridge, Ma. - According to The Economist, a team at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) has proposed a way to improve collision avoidance equipment reliability by surrounding each light aircraft with two concentric, vertical cylinders of airspace that resemble virtual hockey pucks. The adoption of Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast (ADS-B) could help improve collision avoidance equipment, but only if systems are able to give reliable warnings.

The smaller of the two cylinders would be the zone where objects are likely to hit an aircraft, while the larger would entail an adjustable area depending on speed and location. Depending on which zones are crossed, pilots could be given various alerts. The team is working with the FAA and Avidyne, a firm that makes flight instrumentation, to develop the system. Flight tests are expected next year.

While there has been a decrease in aviation accidents in the U.S. over the past decade, pilots and experts express concern about the implications of decreased opportunities for manual flight. A recent FAA study found pilots abdicate too much responsibility. As planes become ever more reliant on automation to navigate crowded skies, safety officials worry there will be more deadly accidents traced to pilots who have lost their hands-on instincts in the air. According to a recent story in the Associated Press, Rory Kay, co-chairman of the FAA committee on pilot training, said, "We're seeing a new breed of accident with these state-of-the art planes.


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