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JetBlue Airways will equip its Airbus A320/A321 airliners with the capability to signal their position over oceanic spaces when it begins fleetwide cabin interior modifications in August. The carrier has also specified that A321s it has ordered be equipped for data communications between pilots and controllers.
Jeff Martin, JetBlue executive vice president for operations, said the Airbus fleet will be provisioned for automatic dependent surveillance-broadcast (ADS-B) Out position reporting to comply with the Federal Aviation Administration’s 2020 equipage mandate, as well as space-based ADS-B, which is not now required. The FAAsystem is based on a terrestrial network of ground radio stations; space-based ADS-B is hosted on satellites and provides coverage over oceanic and remote spaces outside the coverage of other surveillance.
Speaking on June 1 at the RTCA Global Aviation Symposium in Washington, D.C., Martin mentioned the ongoing search for an Egyptair A320 in the Mediterranean Sea and a Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777 in the Indian Ocean in arguing the benefit of a space-based system for tracking aircraft. “If you look at what’s going on in the world right now as we’re out searching for two aircraft, space-based ADS-B is important,” he said. “I think a void needs to be filled not only from a U.S. standpoint but worldwide…From a safety-based standpoint, having the capability of knowing where your aircraft are at all times, that’s where we see the benefit of space-based ADS-B.”