ADS-B: It’s Common Sense For Europe’s Skies, Too!

ADS-B is a hot topic beyond the shores of North America. It’s being adopted by pilots in Europe, who are now benefiting from improved situational awareness, as Trig Avionics highlights...

AvBuyer  |  22nd May 2019
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The AvBuyer editorial team includes Matt Harris and Rebecca Applegarth who contribute to a number of...

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Trigg Avionics ADS-B Solution

What's involved in readying your aircraft to fly with ADS-B in Europe?

ADS-B is a hot topic beyond the shores of North America. It’s being adopted by pilots in Europe, who are now benefiting from improved situational awareness, as Trig Avionics highlights...

Flying with a Mode S transponder is the established way to make you visible to ATC, commercial and military traffic. Mode S also benefits the pilot — by easing the transition through controlled airspace. However, by adding GPS position data to an ADS-B capable transponder, when suitably configured the output transmission becomes ADS-B Out.

Once equipped with ADS-B Out, other aircraft equipped with traffic receivers (known as ADS-B In) can see a real-time electronic display of ADS-B Out transmitting aircraft in their vicinity. A traffic display, such as a tablet or cockpit display, provides a view of the surrounding skies. This significantly improves a pilot’s situational awareness and is a genuine aid to collision avoidance — particularly in VFR conditions.

Most general aviation pilots will be able to share stories about the aircraft that they didn’t see, or the one that got too close! While ADS-B is no substitute for a visual look-out, it can be a useful supplementary tool. 

Thankfully, mid-air collisions are rare, but maintaining safe separation and getting an enhanced awareness ‘electronically’ now has the potential to further improve safety.

See and avoid is now supplemented by sense and avoid, for aircraft beyond visual range or which may otherwise not be seen until it is too late.


Is There a Mandate for ADS-B in Europe?

If ADS-B Out is about being seen and ADS-B In is about seeing other aircraft, what do I need to install in my aircraft? And what is the regulatory position in Europe?

In the United States all aircraft that wish to fly in ADSB airspace need to be ADS-B Out equipped, under the 2020 ADS-B mandate. In Europe there is no mandate for general aviation and EASA’s philosophy for ADS-B is to encourage voluntary adoption and use by GA pilots. The objective is to improve safety and reduce the risk of collision. 

Voluntary use of ADS-B in Europe does not afford any privileges to airspace access over Mode S.

How Can I Fit ADS-B Out Equipment?

By far the most practical means to become ADS-B equipped is to use your existing Mode S (ADS-B Out capable) transponder as the hub for electronic visibility.

Last month EASA released CS-STAN Revision 3, which simplifies the installation process for ADS-B Out and allows the use of existing GPS technology. As an example, an EASA certified aircraft with a transponder from a supplier such as Trig now only needs an additional two wires to be connected from an existing GPS to become ADS-B Out capable. 

The installation and paperwork can all be completed locally via an approved facility; your aircraft will then be more visible using ADS-B Out.

An alternative option when no existing GPS is available is a TN72. This GPS position source can be used with the transponder to achieve ADS-B Out. Type certified, light-sport aircraft, gliders and microlights can all benefit from using the TN72, which costs only €330 (ex-tax).

Some pilots may decide to invest in a cheaper, uncertified GPS solution for their ADS-B set up. One significant drawback of using an uncertified GPS is that some popular traffic devices will not see you, because they are designed to reject low-quality, uncertified GPS information. The TN72, in contrast, uses a certified GPS chipset, which makes it visible to all ADS-B In traffic receivers.

Trig offers two types of GPS antenna for the TN72, depending upon the type of installation.

Get Equipped But Keep a Good Look Out!

As ADS-B experts, Trig Avionics played a key role in Project EVA in 2016. This was a European Union backed, NATS-led technology demonstration project and involved real-world flight trials using ADS-B equipment. The objective was to demonstrate the use of ADS-B technology in various aircraft types and flight confliction scenarios.

While it was clear that electronic conspicuity provided benefits, technical performance and human factors were also assessed. Interestingly, this showed a potential to rely upon electronic traffic information, even at the risk of compromising the critical visual look-out.

Pilot training in the practical use of ADS-B equipment and growing the level of voluntary equipage within GA were two important Project EVA recommendations. 

Using ADS-B equipment in the right way is fundamental, and getting more aircraft to participate will deliver genuine safety improvements.

It’s easy to boost your visibility and improve the safety of yourself and your passengers. U.S. pilots who now fly all the time with ADS-B claim that they simply wouldn’t fly without it.

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