CAGW Encourages FAA to Support Enhanced ADS-C Systems | Council For Citizens Against Government Waste

CAGW Encourages FAA to Support Enhanced ADS-C Systems

Letters to Officials

December 19, 2019

The Honorable Steve Dickson

Administrator - Federal Aviation Administration

800 Independence Ave., S.W.

Washington, D.C. 20531


Dear Administrator Dickson:

Citizens Against Government Waste (CAGW) supports the Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA) goal of providing the safest, most efficient airspace system in the world.  To that end, we share the agency’s interest in the potential safety and efficiency benefits of Automatic Dependent Surveillance (ADS) technologies, which can enable reduced minimum-separation distances between aircraft, and welcome the provisions for implementing such technologies in the fiscal year 2020 Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act.

CAGW has been dedicated to ensuring open competition and fiscal responsibility for the past 35 years.  We share the FAA’s concerns regarding the cost, safety, and operational challenges associated with using space-based ADS-Broadcast (SB ADS-B) technology to manage air traffic in U.S. airspace and view further study of the use of this technology as prudent. 

As you know, the July 17, 2019 Government Accountability Office report examining the FAA’s approach to enhancing surveillance capabilities to improve safety and efficiency in U.S. oceanic airspace notes that FAA officials decided to proceed with using enhanced ADS-Contract (ADS-C) technology, which facilitates safe operations for both current and anticipated levels of air traffic in U.S. oceanic airspace, because: (i) the costs of using SB ADS-B outweigh the efficiency benefits by 6 to 1; (ii) the minimum separation standards that SB ADS-B permits are based on an incomplete dataset that does not adequately account for U.S. oceanic airspace; and (iii) the messages that SB ADS-B systems generate do not include information, like the next waypoint an aircraft will pass and at what time, that air traffic control computer systems need to avoid potential conflicts in aircraft flight paths. 

Accordingly, SB ADS-B is not at present suitable for use over U.S. oceanic airspace.  Therefore, we ask the FAA to implement enhanced ADS-C systems as a cost-effective, failsafe means to comply with scheduled changes to minimum separation standards in U.S. oceanic airspace.


Tom Schatz
President, CAGW

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