New Aviation Technology at the Ends of the Earth

Communications like this are common for me to hear from approach control as I’m flying in Papua New Guinea’s (PNG) busiest airspace. One or two times a week, I fly out of this international airport in PNG’s capital, Port Moresby.
Traffic now shows up with a heading and tail number. This useful feature helps locate traffic faster!

While it’s not as busy as other international airports, there is still a lot of traffic to be found on any given day. But today I’ve got a new tool in my cockpit to help me locate other aircraft more quickly—an Automatic Dependent Surveillance Broadcast (ADS-B) transponder.

“Sierra India Romeo, opposite direction traffic inbound on the three-two-two radial is cleared to one-one-thousand (11,000) feet. Advise sighting.”

In 2016, we invested in the Garmin GTS800 Traffic Avoidance System (TAS), which enables us to see other aircraft on our Garmin G1000 flight deck screens. This system displays other aircraft’s position and altitude relative to us. With our new Garmin ADS-B transponders installed, the GTS800 now gives us a traffic picture enhanced with ADS-B information. I can see other ADS-B equipped aircraft on my screen with their direction of flight and even their tail number displayed! This allows us to better coordinate with air traffic control and other aircraft.

Before ADS-B, traffic showed up without direction or tail numbers. Although this display was quite useful, ADS-B enhances the picture even more.

Mission aviation has changed a lot in the last 60 years; some might say that in the last 10 years we have seen the most substantial changes and improvements. In PNG, because most of our airspace is outside of radar coverage, controllers can’t confirm the location of aircraft on a radar screen. But in our cockpits, we can see the other aircraft. In the past two weeks, I’ve been using this new technology to help coordinate with air traffic control and avoid potential traffic conflicts. With digital cockpits and iPads the norm now, SIL Aviation continues to improve our operation to keep our passengers and cargo safe.