South Florida has become the first US state to fully adopt automatic dependent surveillance broadcast (ADS-B) technology under the FAA’s next-generation air transportation system (Nextgen) initiative.

ADS-B is the cornerstone of the FAA-mandated NextGen initiative that is intended to increase safety and efficiency to meet the growing needs of air transportation.

The new technology, developed by ITT at the request of the FAA, is fully operational in South Florida, with the deployment of 11 ground stations in the region, which includes five general aviation airports.

ADS-B uses GPS satellite signals to provide pilots and air traffic controllers with an unprecedented level of accurate and rapidly updating information about aircraft aloft and on the ground.

ITT’s defence electronics and services chairman Dave Melcher said that south Florida’s initiative paved the way for nationwide adoption.

“Ultimately, the achievements in South Florida help clear the way for national deployment of ADS-B broadcast services, which will help modernise air transportation and decrease delays,” Melcher said.

In August 2007, the FAA awarded ITT a $207m initial contract to develop, deploy and maintain the ADS-B ground infrastructure. When fully deployed throughout the United States in 2013, the ADS-B ground infrastructure system will enable very accurate aircraft position data to be presented to air traffic controllers and will provide dramatically enhanced aircraft situational awareness.

This programme will allow an increasing number of aircraft to maintain safe separation, conduct more precise airport approaches and departures, and execute operations key to accommodating increased levels of air traffic.

ITT is currently working toward deployment of broadcast services for 19 additional FAA-defined airspace areas within the United States and deployment of surveillance services to key sites, including Louisville, Ky.; Philadelphia, Pa.; the Gulf of Mexico; and Juneau, Alaska.

By Daniel Garrun.