Airport Surface Detection Equipment, Model X (ASDE-X)

ASDE-X is a traffic management system for the airport surface that provides seamless coverage and aircraft identification to air traffic controllers. The system uses a combination of surface movement radar and transponder multilateration sensors to display aircraft position labeled with flight call-signs on an ATC tower display. The integration of these sensors provides data with an accuracy, update rate and reliability suitable for improving airport safety in all weather conditions.

This system also features advanced conflict detection and alerting technology, Safety Logic, which uses complex algorithms to alert controllers of potential aircraft and/or vehicle incursions. Further, the system is architected to support Automatic Dependent Surveillance - Broadcast (ADS-B). The FAA has identified 35 airports in the United States as candidates for ASDE-X systems.

In addition to improving safety through runway incursion prevention, the quality of the ASDE-X data resulting from the fusion of multiple surveillance sources enables decision support for:

  • Positive correlation of flight plan information with aircraft position on controller displays;
  • Seamless surveillance coverage of the airport from arrival through departure;
  • Elimination of blind spots and coverage gaps; and
  • Highly accurate, high update surveillance enabling:
    • situational awareness even in inclement conditions
    • conflict detection and resolution


Further, continuous growth in U.S. aviation is causing serious capacity problems at many airports, resulting in an increase in system-wide delays and a struggle to maintain adequate safety. The ASDE-X technology will help to alleviate these issues by reducing controller and pilot workload through improved situational awareness.

sensis2Multilateration is secondary surveillance which directly interacts with all Mode S, ATCRBS or ADS-B-equipped aircraft and vehicles for positive identification and location information.

sensis3The X-Band SMRi features high resolution and frequency diversity to decrease the clutter cell size. Additionally, advanced signal processing techniques continually adapt to changing weather conditions for seamless weather performance and advanced clutter suppression.

sensis4The ASDE-X system is architected to support Automatic Dependent Surveillance - Broadcast (ADS-B). ADS-B-equipped aircraft and vehicles automatically broadcast critical information - latitude and longitude, velocity, altitude, heading and identification - using the Global Navigation Satellite System and aviation data links.

In the screen shot, ADS-B Tracks are in Yellow, ASR Tracks are in Red and fused tracks are in Blue.
sensis5The fusion of the radar, multilateration and ADS-B data enables the best estimate of target location using multiple data sources. The Sensis Multi-Sensor Data Processor enables the strengths of each individual sensor to overcome the weaknesses of the other sensors yielding optimal results. The MSDP also incorporates the Safety Logic/conflict detecting and alerting functionality, providing audible and visual alerts.

This screen shows a simulated Safety Logic scenario.
sensis6The ASDE-X system provides controllers with modern color Tower Displays which depict accurate, reliable surveillance in all weather conditions. These displays can also support additional functionality including data recording/playback; system status monitoring and decision support tools.
The ASDE-X architecture consists of five core components: Multilateration, Surface Movement Radar, Automatic Dependent Surveillance - Broadcast (ADS-B), Multi-Sensor Data Processing, and Tower Displays.

Runway Incursion Prevention has been on the NTSB's "Most Wanted List" of safety improvements since the list was inaugurated in 1990. The FAA is currently pursuing both procedural and technological initiatives to reverse this trend. The ASDE-X Program is the part of the FAA's technological initiative.

The FAA has identified 35 airports as candidates to receive the ASDE-X System
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