The Friday BizAv Blog - On Approach to ADS-B

A thousand and one (or so) ADS-B nights

Dave Higdon  |  27th November 2015
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Dave Higdon
Dave Higdon

Dave Higdon is a highly respected, NBAA Gold Wing award-winning aviation journalist who has covered all...

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To all those Rip Van Winkle wannabes: Take note! AEA’s Ric Peri highlights that there’s barely 1,000 work days left to equip your business airplane for ADS-B. Do you have it covered yet?

One of the benefits of attending events like the NBAA Convention last week takes a wholly human form. Encountering Ric Peri stands as one such example. Peri, vice president of government and industry affairs for the Aircraft Electronics Association (AEA) seldom fails to inspire an idea.

Peri was on a long-haul trip across the convention hall back to AEA's booth when he and I crossed paths and he gave me a moment to ask about the progress towards approved solutions for the pending mandate to equip with Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast (ADS-B) or ADS-B Out.

Since the FAA set the compliance date (that’s January 1, 2020 for those playing Rip Van Winkle in some remote hangar) the aviation community’s response has varied from anger to frustration at the sticker shock; to baseless denial that the FAA will give more time (not so says FAA); back to frustration at the lack of solutions for so many business-turbine aircraft.

“You know,” Peri teased, “we've barely got 1,000 work days to go.”

At the sight or my raised eyebrows he hit me with the punchline: “What? You didn't read my column this month?”

Well... Yes… Of course! But...!

A Day Extra – Then the Deadline

Next year is a leap year. That’s 366 days in 2016; plus 365 each in 2017, 2018 and 2019. All told, that’s 1,461 days as of January 1, 2016 through January 1, 2020. Removing weekends and holidays when shops normally don't work, then per Peri's calculations there are about 1,027 work days to find a solution, schedule the shop time, and get your airplane upgraded to compliance, test-flown and signed-off for return to service.

As the NBAA Convention helpfully demonstrated, new business-turbine-suitable solutions seem to emerge monthly and sooner or later avionics-makers, MOR shops and individual companies will supply approved ADS-B Out solutions for most of the fleet.

It's a tiny number of business aircraft that fly outside the airspace in which FAA mandates aircraft will be using ADS-B by 2020.

In fact, as we pointed out in AvBuyer recently, many parts of the world already require ADS-B Out. So let's brush up on the requirements:

* Does the aircraft have to use a transponder? If so, it needs to meet ADS-B Out requirements by January 1, 2020;

* If the aircraft flies in Class A airspace at or above Flight Level 180 (18,000 msl), the ADS-B Out system must use a Mode S transponder operating on 1090MHz with Extended Squitter and meet the requirements of TSO-C166b;

* Aircraft not operating in this airspace may choose between the Mode S/1090ES solution or a universal access transceiver operating at 978MHz meeting the requirements of TSO-C154c;

* If the aircraft flies in international operations, even below FL180, pick the 1090ES solution. It's the only option outside the US.

Safety & Capacity Gains

The whole point of ADS-B centers on improving safety and airspace capacity by increasing the accuracy of air traffic surveillance systems. With an eligible position source reporting its data meeting either type of transponder – TSO-C166b or TSO-C154c – controllers receive a fix that's updated several times a second, to an accuracy of a fraction of a mile, along with more-accurate information on altitude, ground speed and direction of flight.

By moving away from radar – with its own weaknesses in latency and accuracy that deteriorates with distance from the radar station – and on to ADS-B, controllers and aircraft alike gain the benefits of all those improvements and extra data. And with those improvements come gains in airspace capacity and situational awareness, all of which are very welcome.

So when planning for Christmas gift-giving, consider giving your aircraft something it can use – and start looking for that ADS-B upgrade opportunity. Getting into a shop won't get easier as we tick through those thousand-plus days – and the deadline, like birthdays, won't go away.

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