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Garmin Ltd. Message Board

  • mstgsh mstgsh Mar 20, 2014 7:41 AM Flag

    Keeping track of airplane location

    Question for those on this board with aviation navigation expertise. What might be the impact on Garmin business from this current issue of the lost Flight 370? It seems preposterous that there is no breadcrumb trail to locate the plane. Why not a plane-to-plane mesh network locating all planes? Certainly memory is cheap enough to allow for substantial databases widely distributed? There must have been other flights over the Indian Ocean within communication range? I bet the USAF knows where their planes are at all times, regardless? Is this problem a political/economic issue or a technologic issue? I bet Garmin could come up with a solution? Help me out here.

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    • Hi mstgsh, I'll toss in my somewhat simplified view here, I am sure other can contribute other info and correct any info if I get it wrong. Traditional a pilot dials in a transponder "code" that is provided to him from Air Traffic Control (ATC). This code is temporary and is changed constantly throughout a flight as an aircraft moves from one sector to another or as you move from one controller to another. There is a new system coming where a code will be assigned more permanently to a particular aircraft, much like I get my own personal cell phone number that is unique to me. That way, ATC will have an ID on any plane in their system. Replacement of the old with the new is underway and Garmin is getting plenty of that business. Concurrently, there is a move from ground based reception of the code info to satellite reception. Check out "Aireon". The system was instigated in Canada (?) and maybe Alaska (?), where great expanse of wilderness are not conducive to tracking aircraft with ground based systems. This needs a grid of coverage by birds - check out Iridium (IRDM), a satellite communications system. All of this is currently underway. In order to bypass the issue of tampering with the transponders, the airlines would need to install an additional transponder in the tail of the plane in its own little "Black Box" uplinking basic information - code, speed, direction, altitude - to the satellite grid continuously in real time. Yes, Garmin can and will make these..... piece of cake.

      • 1 Reply to cnessna
      • Hi cnessna, Many thanks for the insight. While I'm fascinated by the air traffic technology, and sort of followed Garmin's participation in these new systems, I really have no first hand experience or knowledge of them. I do fantasize about having a float plane to get me to our lakeside cottage in Quebec, but basically I'm a grounded guy. I see very little chance Garmin's strong hold on general aviation avionics will be threatened anytime soon; quite the contrary, the moat is very wide and the growth potential enormous with potential to eat up the food chain. It's a great business foundation. There will be no blindsiding by "two guys in the garage." Few will chance flying their plane with a pirated Chinese device!

    • I work directly with ads-b. I've installed systems in the past and I currently test our fleet and certify the system on a 24 month basis as required. Ads-b is only good so long as the crew do not pull the Transponder or FMS Circuit Breakers. Which is exactly what happened in this case. Although, I'm not even sure if the A/c in question was ads-b equipped.

    • You might want to look at this Garmin information. It may answer some of your questions. This system is scheduled to replace the current long range radar system used to track airborne aircraft in the national airspace system.
      Garmin is a leader in providing the airborne equipment used in this system.

      • 1 Reply to awosmanret
      • I am retired GARMIN sand my last project was the ADSB GDL88 unit. Typical range is about 300 miles with line of sight. The intent however is for it to be used in Class A, B and C airspace. The most disturbing thing about ADSB is that it would not be that difficult to fill an area with false aircraft from a transmitter on the ground. At least until it was found and shut off. RADAR will still be used even after the 2020 mandate with the current transponders. Also, only ADSB 'out' is mandated and not receive capability. However, I suspect that most commercial aircraft will opt for the TX/RX configuration. Nice concept but I am not sure how secure it really is.

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