AOPA’s message that the cost to equip is too high and must be lowered substantially was heard loud and clear at a “call to action” summit on Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast (ADS-B) put together by the FAA.
The Oct. 28 summit included representatives from general aviation organizations, airlines, and manufacturers who were brought together to identify barriers to ADS-B equipage and begin strategizing about how to address them.
FAA Deputy Administrator Michael Whitaker made it clear that the agency has no intention of changing or delaying the mandate that would require all aircraft to be equipped with ADS-B Out by Jan. 1, 2020, in order to fly in airspace that now requires a Mode C transponder.
But AOPA Senior Vice President of Government Affairs Jim Coon told the group that the general aviation community is facing what could prove to be an insurmountable barrier to meeting the mandate—the cost to equip. He noted that AOPA raised the cost issue as far back as 2008, and it has yet to be resolved.
Coon told participants that more than 81,000 of the 188,000 certified piston-powered aircraft on the FAA registry are worth $40,000 or less, and those aircraft have a weighted average value of $25,800. That puts investing at least $5,000 to install equipment that delivers no clear benefits well beyond the reach of many owners.
“Most of these pilots will park their planes in a field, something this industry cannot afford,” Coon said. “Spending nearly 20 percent of the plane’s value for a piece of equipment just doesn’t make sense to many of our members.”
AOPA delivered a similar message earlier in a strongly worded letter sent to FAA Administrator Michael Huerta. In that letter, AOPA President Mark Baker warned that thousands of aircraft could be grounded by the cost of the mandate, adding that “it would be irresponsible to insist on enforcing a mandate that does not reflect the realities of general aviation flying and would cause irreparable harm to this industry.”
Some participants in the Oct. 28 summit, including representatives from the Experimental Aircraft Association and some ADS-B equipment manufacturers, indicated that they, too, are concerned about the high price to equip and what it will mean to the GA community.
Following an opening general session, meeting participants broke into groups to identify barriers and potential solutions or strategies that could lead to solutions. The summit concluded with each breakout group reporting its findings back to FAA leaders.
Among the key barriers to equipage identified during the summit were cost and availability of upgrading GPS receivers, the need for streamlined certification procedures, development of more low-cost avionics, improving product availability, clarifying requirements, and ensuring repair station resources are available to complete installations.
“We made our point very clearly, and at the close of the meeting cost was identified as a critical barrier for the general aviation community,” said Coon. “We know our message was heard; now we need the FAA to take this issue seriously and work with us, manufacturers, and other stakeholders to ensure that the kind of portable, flexible, and above all affordable solutions GA needs to meet this mandate are available and allowable under the rule.”
To continue the work of the summit, the FAA established the “Equip 2020 Implementation Group” to address the barriers identified during the Oct. 28 meeting. The next meeting of the implementation group is scheduled for Nov. 18.
“Our members need affordable solutions that are appropriate for how they fly, and we look forward to working with FAA and the broader aviation community to make those solutions available,” said Coon.