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Are You Ready for ADS-B?

Are You Ready for ADS-B?

By Rick Farmer, National Head of Maintenance

Are you aware of the major changes to the National Airspace System that are currently underway? ADS-B or Automatic Dependent Surveillance Broadcast will soon be replacing radar as the primary surveillance method for controlling aircraft worldwide. It is currently mandatory equipment for aircraft operating in Australia and some European countries, and will be mandatory in the United States starting January 1, 2020.

ADS-B consists of two different services: ADS-B “Out” and ADS-B “In”. This system is designed to increase safety and pilot situational awareness by providing highly accurate traffic information to Air Traffic Control, as well as other ADS-B “In” equipped aircraft operating in the area. Aircraft identification, position, altitude, and velocity are all sent from the aircraft through a combination GPS and Transponder based system to communicate with a network of ground stations.

The benefits of ADS-B technology are immense, and quickly revolutionizing the way that we fly. ATC can now position and separate aircraft with improved precision and timing, allowing them to better handle the world’s increasingly congested airspace. Pilots are now able to receive collision avoidance, airport information, aviation weather, notices to airmen, temporary flight restrictions, winds aloft, and other up-to-the-minute information sent right to the cockpit.

“ADS-B Technology is revolutionizing the way we fly.”

Cost is currently estimated to be anywhere from $4,000 – $20,000 per aircraft, but once your aircraft is properly equipped, the information is available through subscription free government-generated text, and graphical information.

What does this mean for the General Aviation aircraft owner? This FAA rule will require your aircraft to be equipped with at least ADS-B “Out” by 2020 if you operate your aircraft in Classes A, B, and C airspace, and certain Class E airspace. The “Out “portion of the ADS-B system reports your aircraft identification and position data to be received by ATC and other properly equipped aircraft in the area.

However, you will not be able to receive and view weather and traffic information sent from other aircraft unless you also have the ADS-B “In” equipment installed.

“The FAA is now offering a $500 rebate as an incentive to aircraft owners who get their aircraft converted early.”

While AOPA has been trying to urge the FAA to loosen the requirements for General Aviation aircraft due to the prohibitive cost of these conversions, the agency has stated that they have no intentions of making any changes to the requirements. As of late 2016, the FAA estimated that only 10 percent of the currently registered GA aircraft in the US have been converted. To help alleviate long delays with the avionics shops and equipment manufacturers, the FAA is now offering a $500 rebate as an incentive to aircraft owners who get their aircraft converted early.

The ADS-B network is currently up and running in the United States with many pilots already taking advantage of the benefits. Don’t wait until the last minute and risk having your aircraft grounded on Jan 1, 2020.