Integrate ADS-B and AIS information for safer overwater flights?

While flying between the Bahamas and Florida at 8,000′, we were mostly outside of gliding range from land. However, we were often within gliding range of a ship (but we wouldn’t have known this if we’d been flying in or over clouds). Since 2002, ships have been broadcasting their location via the Automatic identification system (AIS). Aviation caught up in 2020 with the similar ADS-B system. For safer overwater flights in light aircraft, why not combine these two? Given the AIS information, onboard avionics could plot a path that keeps the aircraft within gliding range of at least one ship whenever possible. Given the ADS-B information, augmented with a distress button (not built into the current system, sadly), a ship’s crew would know when to start a rescue effort.

What’s the best case for modern electronics and communications currently? The people in an aircraft would to make it out of the aircraft, get their hands on an EPIRB, activate the EPIRB. The centralized group of people looking at the EPIRB signal would have to find the closest ship via AIS, then succeed in contacting the ship, etc.

Would integrating AIS and ADS-B be a good idea? I can’t find anything on the Web to suggest that it has been done or contemplated.

2 thoughts on “Integrate ADS-B and AIS information for safer overwater flights?

  1. I don’t think this is super helpful. There are a few products that could show AIS on an ipad.

    A better and simpler solution would be to cary a small marine radio. When your engine quits you can broadcast on channel 16 and ask someone if they are around. The range is not so great on the hand held radios and if anyone is around they will most likely respond. If you just glide next to a ship that has AIS chances are they won’t see you anyways.

    So Toucan thinks 1.) it’s not a good idea. 2.) The certification costs alone would make it crazy expensive. 3.) even if it were combined not sure what you would accomplish. 4.) better to buy a 100 dollar hand held marine radio that you can contact any boat with. Toucan himself carries his when he flies to Catalina!

  2. What’s in it for ships? I don’t see how they benefit, and they probably don’t want kamakaze strikes on their ships.

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