Midair crash technology will not be required in most of Alaska

Published: Sep. 2, 2016 at 4:24 PM AKDT
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New federally-mandated technology aimed at reducing midair collisions will not have the same impact in Alaska as the rest of the Lower 48.

Since 2011 Alaska has seen 7 midair collisions, the majority of which took place in Southcentral Alaska.

The technology is called automatic dependent surveillance-broadcast, commonly abbreviated to ADS-B. It automatically updates a planes position with GPS as it moved and allows planes to see each other in real time, if both planes have the system installed.

The Federal Aviation Administration says the technology will be required by 2020 for planes flying in designated airspaces. The only designated airspace in Alaska will be the Anchorage International airspace.

Planes can fly around that airspace, even if leaving from Lake Hood which is directly next to it.

"Most of the people we are equipping today are voluntarily equipping," says Gary Bennett, owner of Northern Lights Avionic which sells ADS-B technology.

Bennett says despite the mandate not impacting the majority of airspace where pilots fly he continues to see people make the investment into the technology. He says costs can vary from $4,000 to upwards of $10,000.

"When you're comparing apples to apples transponders are what's required in the same airspace now," says Bennett. "A typical transponder system has always been around $4,000."

The most recent midair collision claimed five lives outside of Russian Mission Village on August 31, 2016.