Design and Implementation of a Practical Aircraft Position and Reporting Identification Beacon (PRIB)

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Virginia Tech

A transponder is a device that is used for tracking aircraft by mean of a secondary radar system, but it can be turned off deliberately, and it is an expensive item for small aircraft. These weaknesses have fatal consequences, as was shown with the terrorist attack on September 11 th , 2001, where four commercial aircraft under the control of international terrorists were used as missiles against the United Stated of America, killing thousands of people. These factors have shown a need for the development of an efficient aircraft tracking system, which does not rely on transponders. To this end a new tracking aircraft system is proposed, which will be referred to as the Positioning and Reporting Identification Beacon (PRIB) system. Due to size, mass, power, and financial constraints, the design must be small, light, power efficient, and cost-effective. The PRIB will acquire the aircraft's position from a dedicated GPS receiver and then transmit this information to a base station at a different location using a radio link.

This thesis presents the design of a PRIB unit in light of the system constraints. In addition to the hardware design, the software needed by the unit to control and communicate with the ground stations is presented. The performance of the PRIB is analyzed and ways in which a PRIB could be manufactured using commercial off-the-shelf parts is discussed.

beacon, transponder, radar, gps receiver