Mandate Looms as FAR 25 Solutions Slowly Grow
A packed audience at the “Meet the Boss” session during EAA’s 2017 AirVenture Oshkosh heard a stern reminder from FAA’s Michael Huerta, reports Dave Higdon. The effective date for mandatory ADS-B equipage will not change...
Administrator Huerta offered his Oshkosh reminder to counter unfounded rumors of a deadline delay. He urged swift action for operators of all stripes – including General and Business Aviation.
Compliance to date lags badly: tens of thousands of aircraft in the GA fleet are yet to be ADS-B equipped. Avionics shops and trade groups alike predict a growing backlog as the deadline approaches.
Expectations run high that come January 1, 2020, thousands of non-complying aircraft will lose access to Class A, Class B and Class C airspace, as well as other segments of the sky in which today Mode C or Mode S transponders are required.
A large percentage of the business aircraft fleet is among those as yet to upgrade their avionics to comply with the rule issued on May 28, 2010, more than seven years ago.
According to FAA data, as of July 1, 2017 the fixed-wing GA fleet equipped with ADS-B Out totaled just under 28,000 from 220,000 total aircraft. Of those, only 24,463 were tested and rated as ‘good installs’ (i.e. were found to work with the FAA's ADS-B surveillance system).
Only an estimated 5,000 are business-turbine aircraft, out of a fleet totaling nearly 27,000 jets and propjets, leaving about 20,000 yet to be upgraded, according to a study by government think-tank contractor The Mitre Corporation.
The main reason for this slow start stems from the lack of approved options during the first few years following issuance of the final rule. But the variety of STC’d systems has dramatically increased since then. From here the issues are more to do with scheduling than availability.
“The repair shop industry in the US has less than 2.5 years to equip the GA fleet of more than 100,000 aircraft with ADS-B Out avionics,” said AEA President Paula Derks. “Aircraft owners who wait to equip will face scheduling pressure and likely higher installation costs as we get closer to the January 1, 2020, deadline.”
AvByuer garnered input from several avionics installers on why operators should not wait to book an installation slot. Consider what the experts say:
Reserve a Slot, Regardless
According to Duncan Aviation (www.duncanaviation.aero), to meet the mandate deadline several hundred business aircraft should be getting the upgrade every month until the end of 2019. Even at that pace, the later operators risk landing in a queue extending well into 2020 – effectively cutting them off from all those airspace sectors where ADS-B is required.
Schedule an installation slot ASAP. Even if the equipment you want isn't yet approved, protect against being locked out when the product suitable for your aircraft gains its approval.
Being in the queue lowers your risk of receiving a post-deadline installation slot, and canceling or delaying the date is always possible.
Plans to sell the aircraft later shouldn't be an excuse to delay compliance now. Aircraft without ADS-B Out will, experts warn, result in a loss of resale value since the new owner will have to spend the money on compliance rather than on paying the seller.
Beat the Hardware Demand
The input from Elliott Aviation (www.elliottaviation.com) parallels that of other vendors holding Supplemental Type Certificates for a large array of aircraft.
One point made by Elliott is that scheduling early helps assure the installer has the hardware needed for your aircraft by the time your installation slot comes up. With a broad spectrum of solutions covering most Citations and King Air models, among others, demand for the approved hardware is likely to grow stronger as the deadline approaches.
As demand grows, operators who schedule late may find themselves waiting for back-ordered hardware, thereby compromising the avionics shop’s ability to accomplish their upgrade until the equipment backlog is cleared.
Depending on other work needed (such as installation of a WAAS GPS navigator), installation times can vary from a few days to more than a week. One piece of useful advice is to schedule the ADS-B upgrade in tandem with an annual or 100-hour inspection or engine hot-section overhaul, thus reducing downtime.
Not Just a US Issue
Jet Aviation reminded us that ADS-B isn't solely a US issue; it's a standard embraced by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) and is required by ICAO signatory nations. While some nations delayed their compliance dates to align with the US, others (such as Australia) already require ADS-B.
While a higher percentage of overseas-based aircraft have complied when compared with the US, some still are not fully equipped. And some of those owners will seek installation slots anywhere the shop is approved by their home country.
That scenario could further complicate scheduling in the US, given that many domestic installers hold international approvals.
Of course, each country will require a demonstration of successful installation even after an installation by an approved shop in the US, further adding time pressures on those operators.
Allowing Time to Find a Solution
Finding a solution approved for your aircraft may prove challenging for many older business turbine airframes, and aligning the equipment with a shop approved to handle the installation adds another obstacle.
Stephens Aviation's lengthy list of solutions for upgrading old Rockwell Collins ProLine 4 and ProLine 21 systems includes many offerings partnered with CMD Flight Solutions. But again, the company reminds us that scheduling early is paramount to assure hardware and installation capacity before the deadline.
Waste no time in finding a shop specializing in an ADS-B solution for your aircraft type. Some locations may seem more convenient than others, but make sure that the shop performs the upgrade you need.
Touching base with a shop that ticks all of the right boxes for your business aircraft as early as possible should be a priority to your flight operation to help preclude a loss of use, starting January 1, 2020.