A major component of the Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA) Next Generation Air Transportation System (NextGen) modernization initiative is the complete overhaul of radar surveillance. The FAA is deploying a relatively new technology called Automatic Dependant Surveillance-Broadcast (ADS-B), where aircraft equipped with Global Positioning System (GPS) receivers can transmit their location and altitude to other nearby aircraft and to air traffic control. Although the FAA plans to retain primary radar for homeland defense purposes, many of today’s secondary surveillance radars will be shut down in the future.
On May 27, 2010 the FAA issued a final rule mandating Automatic Dependant Surveillance –Broadcast (ADS-B) equipage. Effective on January 1, 2020, any aircraft operating in airspace where a Mode C transponder is required today, will also be required to carry an ADS-B OUT transmitter. The FAA is not mandating ADS-B IN systems with this rule.
The rule does not impact the current transponder requirement – meaning aircraft will continue to be required to carry their transponders in addition to this requirement for ADS-B Out equipage after 2020.
Unlike most rulemaking activities which are safety based, the basis of the mandate is to support the FAA’s Next Generation Air Transportation System (NextGen). The FAA indicates that the mandate will not greatly increase or decrease safety, but is necessary to move forward with NextGen.
The ADS-B mandate will likely affect most of the AOPA membership. There are a myriad of issues surrounding the mandate and the infrastructure deployment strategy. If implemented properly, ADS-B could be beneficial to general aviation, but at this time many hurdles exist that could prevent ADS-B from being either affordable or beneficial in the near term.
AOPA is working closely with the FAA to ensure that, over the next 10 years, pilots can easily identify benefits of ADS-B and equip with affordable avionics, and not simply to comply with new rules.
Since 1990 AOPA members have embraced Global Positioning System (GPS) technology and ADS-B has been part of the long-term modernization initiative at the FAA. Since 1999, AOPA has carefully evaluated ADS-B in an effort to confirm the potential benefits of ADS-B. By working closely with general aviation pilots in a wide-spread ADS-B trial and demonstration in Alaska, and by equipping the AOPA fleet of aircraft with ADS-B, we have seen first-hand the safety and efficiency improvements that are possible, if the system is designed and implemented correctly.
In 2007 the FAA launched their nationwide deployment, and proposed mandatory equipage. AOPA immediately identified a number of significant issues that would likely reduce or eliminate the benefits of ADS-B for general aviation, and we have been working to educate and encourage the FAA to make programmatic and regulatory adjustments that result in reduced avionics costs and increased benefits.
For nearly 20 years AOPA has supported the transition from ground-based infrastructure to satellite based systems. AOPA generally supports ADS-B in concept, if the members can easily identify tangible benefits to their operation.
However at this time, is difficult to identify adequate benefits in the ADS-B implementation strategy. AOPA expects members to delay equipage until they are forced to comply with the mandate. However, we remain optimistic that over the next decade, safety concerns will be mitigated, avionics prices will drop, and general aviation benefits will emerge. As identified in comments to the FAA, there are a number of concerns with FAA’s proposed implementation strategy to include:
The FAA published the Final Rule mandating ADS-B out effective January 1. 2020. The infrastructure installations are underway nationwide and by 2013, nearly 800 ground stations will be capable of receiving ADS-B signals from aircraft.
Over the next ten years AOPA expects several avionics manufacturers to introduce first-generation avionics systems that comply with the mandate requirements. AOPA also expects some of the ADS-B systems to be capable of receiving ADS-B data, and depicting the traffic information on a multi-function display in the cockpit.
ADS-B ground stations are transmitting Traffic Information Services-Broadcast (TIS-B), which is radar-derived traffic uplinked to ADS-B equipped aircraft. The ground stations are also transmitting Flight Information Services Broadcast (FIS-B) data with no subscription charge. Pilots who equip with ADS-B systems capable of receiving the TIS-B and FIS-B will experience the sole benefit that AOPA has identified in the current FAA implementation strategy. For more information:
FAA ADS-B Web page (includes maps of available coverage).
AOPA thanks our members for their continued support in protecting the freedom to fly.