ADS-B: Equipping the fleet

June 2, 2010

The most immediate barrier to GA equipage with ADS-B Out is the fact that no ADS-B unit currently exists that meets the criteria set forth by the FAA.

The FAA demonstrated ADS-B capabilities at four pioneer sites over the past year, and controllers are already using ADS-B technology to route equipped traffic over the Gulf of Mexico; Philadelphia; Louisville, Ky.; and Juneau, Alaska—but operators of those aircraft will have to upgrade their equipment before 2020 to meet FAA requirements. And over the next 10 years, manufacturers must develop a unit that meets FAA specifications and produce enough to equip an expected 87 percent of the GA fleet—185,000 to 190,000 aircraft.

Before the mandate, AOPA had recommended limiting the number of aircraft that would have to equip by mandating ADS-B Out only in Class A airspace and at the primary airports of Class B airspace. The FAA rejected this recommendation but accepted others that will help mitigate the impact on GA, including a stipulation that units will have a privacy mode equivalent to 1200 on a transponder.

The 10-year timeline for equipage presents challenges for aircraft owners as well as the FAA and manufacturers. Now, the FAA and industry have a decade to work together to find low-cost solutions and more benefits for GA.

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