Monday, February 02, 2009

Reason Repeat

Here we go again...

”Yet ADS-B is supposed to be one of the main building blocks for NextGen’s replacement of costly ground-based radar with GPS-based navigation and surveillance.“

That is just one line out of the Reason Foundation’s ATC Reform News. Mr. Robert Poole has been kindly sending me the newsletter since our last, little exchange. In other words, I’m on his mailing list now. But I digress.

Back to ADS-B replacing radar. It can’t. And it won’t. Anybody that knows anything about Air Traffic Control realizes this. If you don’t know this, you can read everything I’ve written about ADS-B and then you will.

Even if the FAA could shut off all the radar feeds (it won’t) to its facilities, the Department of Defense would still have to maintain a radar network for defense purposes. We learned a very hard lesson on 9/11. The Department of Defense needs radar coverage of our country’s interior -- not just our borders. So, in effect, Mr. Poole (and the FAA) are asking taxpayers to fund a radar network and ADS-B. Yet, he wants you to think that we’ll be saving money by replacing that “costly ground-based radar” with ADS-B.

The rest of Mr. Poole’s newsletter is peppered with equally loaded language and dubious arguments. But I did learn something hopeful.

”Portions of the FAA (and presumably industry) committed to the “installed legacy infrastructure” (which some have termed the FAA’s “radar mafia”); “

I didn’t know there was a “radar mafia” inside the FAA. I thought Blakey and Sturgell had silenced all dissent. Please, Mr. Poole, tell me more. Tell me that rational people have hope. Tell me the FAA is looking at replacing the ARSR-1s, 2s and 3s (maybe even the 4s) with new, superior models. Something like...

...the ARSR-4 is more reliable, easier to maintain, and increases the radar coverage area from 200 to 250 nautical miles. This three-dimensional, solid state, unattended, long rang surveillance radar has an operational frequency range of 1215-1400 MHz and uses dual-channel frequency hopping technology for long-range and anti-jam search and tracking, and is capable of detecting small objects by minimizing clutter, weather, and multipath effects.

It’s amazing what they can do with technology these days. Did you know ?

ARSR-4 also satisfies DOD specific requirements for providing height data on surveillance targets.  The ARSR-4 outputs weather intensity contour data formatted in up to six levels of intensity.

Amazing. The ability to detect small objects (did someone say birds ?), determine the height of the object and six intensities of weather. Who would have thought such an “antiquated” technology could be so useful ? Oh yeah -- me, the “radar mafia”, the Department of Defense and those safety-flogging union guys.

(I’m sure issue 59 of the ATC Reform News will be up on this web page sooner or later.)

Don Brown
February 2, 2009

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