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Booking Your ADS-B Upgrade

When booking your slot to comply with ADS-B, understand your options and make the most informed decision for you and your company. Avoid the following mistakes

Conrad Theisen   |   8th September 2017
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Conrad Theisen Conrad Theisen

Conrad Theisen is Director of Avionics Sales for Elliott Aviation, having been with Elliott...
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Seven Top Mistakes to Avoid

When booking your slot to comply with ADS-B, understand your options and make the most informed decision for you and your company, emphasizes Conrad Theisen, Elliott Aviation. Following are mistakes to avoid…


With more than 40,000 turbine aircraft yet to complete their ADS-B solution, the Business Aviation community is facing an existential problem. If every aircraft owner booked a slot, there simply wouldn’t be enough manpower available to complete the work before January 1, 2020.

Avionics systems can be incredibly difficult to navigate and understand. Owing to their nature, it is impossible to have a convenient one-size-fits-all quote for a particular avionics suite—particularly when legacy units are involved. When looking for options and quotes, operators should be sure to include their entire equipment list, and list all versions and upgrades that their system is running.

A well-respected avionics shop can have a backlog of 50 or more quotes. Depending on the complexity and the manpower available, it may take a week or more to receive your quote.

Moreover, a good shop will not only give you what you ask for but research thoroughly the other options you might include that could save you time and money during the installation.

With that understood, here are some mistakes to avoid as you address ADS-B compliance…


Mistake #1: Believing the deadline will be extended…

Originally implemented in 2010 and in discussion well before that, the FAA has given ten years’ notice for compliance and announced on multiple occasions that it will not extend the deadline. Turbine aircraft owners will be responsible for making the upgrade or will essentially be grounded.

More and more we’ve heard customers state they ‘strongly believe’ the FAA is going to extend the deadline. This is untrue. Simply put, if you plan on flying your aircraft within controlled airspace in the US after January 1, 2020, you have to be compliant. As we move closer to the deadline, customers can expect shop backlogs will be commonplace.


Mistake #2: Thinking there will be a cheaper solution coming…

We are approximately two years away from the deadline, and for many aircraft there are multiple ADS-B solutions available. If a company has not announced they’re either working on a solution or nearing completion, it is unlikely that something new will surface. Engineering an STC takes 6-18 months at a minimum, and approved solutions are costly to produce. The company then has to spend thousands of dollars marketing its product.

Essentially, if a company were to announce today that it was working on a brand new STC, their product wouldn’t become available until March of 2018 (earliest) and the company would only be selling the STC for about 20 months.

With such a small window to recoup the costs, it would make little financial sense for a company to invest in the solution while pricing it to be among the cheaper units available. Avionics OEMs already have their equipment in place and nothing new is on the horizon.


Mistake #3: Planning on selling without an upgrade…

There are many aircraft operators that either have their aircraft ‘For Sale’ or are considering it. As we get closer to the deadline, ADS-B non-compliance is going to be a sales-deterrent.

Every day that an aircraft sits on the market it loses money. If an owner wants to put the aircraft on the market and has to wait six months or more for an ADS-B slot, depreciation alone can run in the hundreds of thousands of dollars for a Mid- or Super Mid-size aircraft.

If you want to sell your aircraft, you will still need to talk to a good avionics shop about what your ADS-B options are before you place your aircraft on the market.


pilot in aircraft looking back


Mistake #4: Believing you are bound by an OEM solution…

While your avionics manufacturer likely has a solution for your aircraft, it is probably not the only solution. It may not even be your best option. Some avionics OEMs require you to be current on all of your upgrades before they’ll give you their solution. In some instances, this can cost the operator hundreds of thousands of dollars, offering little value in return.

In many cases there are system agnostic solutions that can save you a lot of time and money. Check with a knowledgeable avionics person to see what other STCs are available for your airframe, and make sure you do a full cost benefit analysis on the top solutions you’re considering.


Mistake #5: Thinking you need to travel for a solution…

With a good STC, many ADS-B installations can be handled by your closest avionics facility. In most cases, STCs can be purchased along with a kit that includes all parts needed to complete the installation. This approach can save you some extra money and time by not having to move the airplane more than is needed. Make sure your shop lets you know of all the options available for your aircraft.


Mistake #6: Not taking advantage of downtime…

On a Part 25 aircraft, downtime for an ADS-B solution can be eight days or more. An annual or regular inspection would be the perfect time to install your ADS-B solution. Since you already have to open up the airplane, you can gain some labor hour efficiency by bundling with other services.

Many of the ADS-B installations Elliott Aviation is currently working on are packaged with a major inspection, paint and interior or engine overhauls/upgrades.


Mistake #7: Not exploring your upgrade options…

You are going to invest a significant amount of capital to meet the ADS-B mandate, but compliance alone will not give you any benefits (other than access to airspace, which you had prior to January 1, 2020). Depending on what you plan to do with the aircraft, it could make sense for you to upgrade your avionics to provide additional features.


Avoiding These Mistakes

With a little homework and by talking to experienced and reputable avionics facilities, you can avoid many of the headaches that will inevitably happen as we move closer to the ADS-B deadline.

At this point, make your decision based on what solution you want for your aircraft, and get it booked soon. Making sure you avoid these mistakes described above can save you time, money and a whole lot of trouble.

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Read more about: ADS-B | NextGen | Avionics Mandates | Avionics Upgrades

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