Bahamas Air has downgauged its service to the U.S. after
failing to equip its three Boeing 737-500s with GPS satellite transponders by
the Federal Aviation Administration’s Jan. 1 deadline.
The carrier had been using the three 737-500s, along with
one more modern 737-700, to fly routes from Nassau to Orlando, West Palm
Beach, Fort Lauderdale and Miami. Now, it has
removed the 737-500s from those routes and replaced them with three
transponder-equipped ATR propeller planes, Bahamas Air chairman Tommy Turnquest
said in an interview with Nassau’s Eyewitness News.
Under the FAA mandate, aircraft flying in U.S. airspace were
required to have Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast, or ADS-B,
transponders by Jan. 1.
Aircraft equipped with ADS-B outbound transponders can be
tracked by air traffic controllers on a second-by-second basis using the
network of GPS-based transmitters the FAA finished installing in 2014. In
contrast, FAA radar stations can only track a plane’s location somewhere
between every four to 12 seconds.
The FAA issued the ADS-B mandate in 2010.
Turnquest said that the age of the three 737-500s — each
are at least 22 years old according to the website Planespotters — made transponder installation difficult.
Bahamas Air is currently searching for a new supplier for the transponders.
Replacement work will take approximately three weeks and cost $195,000 per
aircraft, he said.
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