Date of Award

Spring 2015

Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Science in Aeronautics and Astronautics


Aeronautics and Astronautics

First Advisor

Dengfeng Sun

Committee Chair

Dengfeng Sun

Committee Member 1

Haifeng Wang

Committee Member 2

Nan Kong


Automatic dependent surveillance – broadcast (ADS-B) is a central component of the NextGen air traffic control program. This surveillance technology can replace current secondary surveillance radars (SSR) and improve cockpit situational awareness. The service can improve traffic surveillance capabilities by sharing accurate aircraft position information between pilots and air traffic controllers. In addition, ADS-B provides pilots with weather as well as air traffic information for nearby area. In order to receive these traffic and weather services, a pilot must have appropriate onboard equipment including GPS receiver, Universal Access Transceiver, antenna and multi-function cockpit display which is capable of receiving and displaying information. Compared to traditional surveillance technology used in air traffic control, aircraft updates and broadcasts its information more rapidly with ADS-B since it determines its position via satellite navigation, enabling it to be tracked. ADS-B also has a large coverage including most of areas in the world. This feature is especially helpful in special areas such as mountain area for air traffic controllers. The most important potential of ADS-B is to enable procedures not possible with current SSR that would increase the capacity of airspace system due to its high navigation accuracy. ADS-B is also helpful to improve the safety in air traffic. However, ADS-B program hasn't been operating well even though FAA highly recommended it and made rules on it. This paper discussed the basic advantages and disadvantages of ADS-B. The experiment was designed to estimate the navigation accuracy of ADS-B by modeling several flights in MATLAB with data from FAA and IGS and then compare the result in ideal situation with current surveillance technology. The result showed that the accuracy of ADS-B is higher than current radar system in this designed situation. The limit of the experiment and its difference to the real world are discussed in the paper as well.