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More questions than answers at AOPA's ADS-B seminar

More than 150 attendees were treated to some frank discussion and useful insight into the stunningly complex world of ADS-B at an AOPA-hosted seminar on the subject at EAA AirVenture in Oshkosh, Wisconsin.

Panelist Mac McClellan from EAA set the tone when he got things started by asking the FAA representatives, “Why the heck do we need ADS-B?” Bob Nichols, the head of the FAA’s surveillance and broadcast services office, and John Duncan, head of flight standards, simply smiled. It’s no secret that questions about the viability, cost effectiveness, and even the need for ADS-B, remain.

Nichols was quick to point out that the ground stations, the integral part of the system that receives airplane position information and sends back traffic and weather to the pilot, is not only now fully complete, but it came in on time and under budget. That means pilots with ADS-B Out-approved equipment with an ADS-B In feed now receive nearly nationwide free traffic and weather.

Much of the discussion focused on the mandate for pilots to equip by 2020, which AOPA Vice Pressident of Regulatory Affairs Rob Hackman nicely qualified. Think about where you are today and your needs going forward, he said. If the airplane currently doesn’t require a transponder under the regulations, it won’t require ADS-B. And if you don’t plan to fly in controlled airspace, ADS-B isn’t required. Admittedly, that’s a small percentage of the overall fleet, much of which has yet to make the transition.

Nichols said that last year there were 1,000 installations of the approved mandated equipment. This year is on track for 6,000. But AOPA Editor in Chief Tom Haines said that at this rate the fleet will never make the mandate. Nichols simply said, “The mandate’s firm.”

When Haines asked for questions, it seemed every hand in the place shot in the air, making it clear to all that practically nothing in the world of ADS-B is a quick and easy answer.

AOPA is running seminars in the companion activity tent all week at EAA AirVenture.

Ian J. Twombly
Ian J. Twombly
Ian J. Twombly is senior content producer for AOPA Media.
Topics: EAA AirVenture, Avionics, Events

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