Challenges Facing the Implementation of FAA's Automatic Dependent Surveillance - Broadcast Program

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On October 17, 2007, the Inspector General testified on FAA's implementation of the Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast Program (ADS-B) before the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, Subcommittee on Aviation. The Inspector General discussed three major points. First, realistic expectations need to be set for what benefits ADS-B will deliver in terms of capacity and delay reduction. Second, ADS-B has demonstrated important benefits where radar coverage is limited, but implementing it nationwide will be a complex undertaking. Before FAA even considers the more advanced capabilities, ADS-B must demonstrate the same level of service that radar now provides. Finally, FAA has decided to rely on a service contract approach for ADS-B. This means that the Government will not own the ADS-B ground infrastructure but will pay for broadcast services. An extraordinary level of contract oversight will be required. Our work shows that key areas for FAA oversight include managing requirements and having the right in-house expertise and skill mix for effective management and oversight. This will be particularly important since FAA will not own the ADS-B hardware, software, or infrastructure. We are concerned that FAA could find itself in a situation where it knows very little about the system that is expected to be the foundation of NextGen. FAA must take steps to ensure it effectively addresses this risk.