The ADS-B mandates are fast approaching and there is literally no escaping the need to upgrade your aircraft to meet the upcoming mandates. Failure to comply will result in your aircraft being grounded or being subject to non-preferred and inefficient routing, which in turn will result in long delays and higher fuel burn. Sounds ominous doesn’t it? However, in reality whilst ADS-B may be confusing, it’s probably the most important technological change you will have to deal with as a pilot over the next two decades.
Whilst the ADS-B debate isn’t exactly new news, it is worth revisiting some of the basics. So what exactly is ADS-B? ADS-B stands for Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast. It’s a typically descriptive aviation term that still leaves most of us scratching our heads! So let’s take each element in turn and see what it’s all about.
- Automatic–properly-equipped aircraft automatically report their position, without need for a radar interrogation
- Dependent–ADS-B depends on aircraft having an approved WAAS GPS on board and an ADS-B Out transmitter
- Surveillance–it is a surveillance technology that allows ATC to monitor aircraft movements
- Broadcast–aircraft broadcast their position information to other aircraft and ATC
In a nutshell ADS-B is a technology that allows air traffic controllers to see traffic with more precision than ever before. Instead of relying on antiquated radar technology, ADS-B uses highly accurate GPS signals. As a result, ADS-B works where radar often doesn’t — even in remote areas or mountainous terrain. And because it can function at low altitudes and on the ground, it can also be used to monitor traffic on airport taxiways and runways.
ADS-B is made up of two main parts: ADS-B Out and ADS-B In. While ‘Out’ is of interest to controllers, ‘In’ is mostly of interest to pilots. ADS-B Out is a surveillance technology for tracking aircraft – essentially providing the data Air Traffic Control (ATC) centres need to manage traffic more effectively. It reports your aircraft’s position, velocity and altitude once per second. This transmission is received by ATC and nearby aircraft and this data effectively works as a traffic radar display.
ADS-B In allows an aircraft to receive transmissions from ADS-B ground stations and other aircraft. This will enable pilots to access subscription-free weather and traffic data in the cockpit. At present ADS-B In is optional, though mandates in the future cannot be discounted.
One of the reasons both the FAA, EASA and other regulatory authorities have implemented the mandate is the benefits of the technology as part of the broader next-generation Air Traffic Management (ATM) initiatives. So what are these benefits? Air traffic controllers will be able to reduce congestion, noise, emission and fuel consumption through more efficient routing and resource management. Because the system has the ability to provide pilots access to detailed traffic information, ADS-B also represents a leap forward in pilot situational awareness and will greatly enhance the safety of all those in the air.
So ADS-B is coming, and it’s actually coming faster than you think. The FAA mandate is less than 1,000 days from now – with the EASA mandate close on its heels. If you operate in airspace that currently requires a Mode C or Mode S transponder, you’ll need to be equipped with ADS-B “Out” by January 1st 2020 in the US and June 8th 2020 in Europe.
Research undertaken in the U.S. suggests that some 73% of the world’s largest business jets fleet have not yet equipped to comply with the FAA’s 2020 ADS-B Out mandate. The low adoption rate in Europe also give cause for concern. With hundreds, if not thousands, of non-compliant aircraft requiring upgrade prior to 2020 – and upgrades taking in excess of 100 man hours per aircraft – time is running out.
If you’re considering waiting to see whether the mandate is delayed – then I certainly wouldn’t recommend holding your breath. U.S and European airspace are two of the last to enforce the adoption of ADS-B technology, therefore it is very unlikely that a further delay will be sanctioned. As mentioned non-compliant aircraft could be grounded – and if not operators will be subjected to delays, inefficient routing, and higher fuel burn. Are you willing to take the risk?
Gama Aviation has a variety of ADS-B DO-260B-compliant solutions available now. To talk to one of their experts and define your 2020 Vision complete the form below.