The FAA announced Sept. 18 that it would host a “call to action summit” to address the barriers and potential challenges associated with equipping tens of thousands of aircraft for Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast (ADS-B) by the Jan. 1, 2020, deadline. AOPA welcomed the decision to bring industry and government together to address the issues around ADS-B implementation, a critical component of the NextGen air traffic modernization program.
“We are pleased that FAA is taking an inclusive approach to addressing the substantial challenges associated with ADS-B equipage,” said AOPA President Mark Baker, who was asked to serve on the steering group for the summit. “The costs associated with purchasing and installing the required avionics are prohibitive for many pilots and aircraft owners, especially in light of the limited benefits they will receive. At the same time, we understand the FAA is facing its own structural challenges and potential delays in implementing the mandate.”
The summit has been set for Oct. 28 and will involve representatives from government and all aspects of the aviation industry. The announcement came as the FAA and industry anticipated the results of an ongoing Department of Transportation Inspector General review of the FAA’s progress on NextGen implementation. While the report has not yet been release to the public, there are concerns that the FAA is behind schedule in addressing technical issues, facility integration, and training that could affect the feasibility of the 2020 mandate.
“We hope that the Inspector General’s report will provide additional facts and details that aircraft owners need to make informed decisions about ADS-B equipage,” said Baker.
In its announcement, the FAA said it had “met its commitment and built the foundation for ADS-B,” adding that it’s now “time for all users of the national airspace—avionics suppliers, aircraft integrators, operators and installers—to work together to ensure that all aircraft flying in controlled airspace are equipped with these NextGen avionics.”
But the process of fulfilling the mandate has been fraught with difficulties, including uncertainties about the precise equipment requirements, delays in deploying needed infrastructure, the high cost of buying and installing avionics, and the lack of clear benefits for most general aviation operators. The sheer number of aircraft that still need to be equipped and the lack of availability of sufficient units and personnel to install them also present challenges when it comes to meeting the 2020 deadline.