Is it worth it? Aircraft owners weigh the costs and benefits of any new technology before installing it in their cockpit. When the scales tip toward value, pilots equip in spades.
A government-industry group tasked with setting the stage for future Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast (ADS-B) applications recommended that the government take the same approach to the receivers, known as ADS-B In, that led to the ubiquitousness of GPS in GA cockpits: The ADS-B In Aviation Rulemaking Committee recommended that the FAA provide the benefits needed to help operators make the business case for ADS-B In and let pilots equip on their own.
AOPA co-chaired the committee’s business case working group and was one of the consensus voices recommending that the FAA attract pilots with the benefits of ADS-B In rather than mandating equipage. To make the business case, AOPA said, the FAA should expand its ground infrastructure and service volumes, and make traffic information continuously available for display in the cockpit. These recommendations were included in the committee’s report, released Nov. 17.
“Representatives from government and industry agreed that pilots should be driven to equip with ADS-B In because it benefits them, not because of a government mandate,” said AOPA Senior Director of Airspace and Modernization Heidi Williams.
ADS-B is an important part of the FAA’s transition from ground-based radar to satellite-based navigation and surveillance. ADS-B Out transmits an aircraft’s position and other information, while ADS-B In receives data for in-cockpit displays of weather and traffic. The committee recommended that the FAA accelerate the development of equipment standards, certification guidance, operational approval guidance, and any necessary policy adjustments that would allow pilots to take advantage of ADS-B In services sooner.
The recommendations are in sharp contrast to a 2010 rule that mandates equipage with ADS-B Out by 2020. AOPA opposed the mandate and continues to maintain that the FAA must provide enough benefit to GA to make equipping with ADS-B worth the investment. That includes making a continuous uplink of traffic information available now to everyone—not just those with ADS-B Out—so that pilots could recognize and take advantage of the situational awareness benefit of ADS-B In. Currently weather information is available to all ADS-B In-equipped aircraft, but traffic information is only available to those that also transmit using ADS-B Out.