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FAA urges light sport makers to move on ADS-B, angle of attack

The FAA is urging the manufacturers of special light sport aircraft (SLSAs) to establish pathways for the installation of Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast Out (ADS-B Out) equipment and angle of attack indicators in their aircraft.

The FAA’s Small Aircraft Directorate sent 65 SLSA manufacturers a letter encouraging them develop plans for the installation and airworthiness approval of ADS-B Out equipment and an attachment providing equipment certification and installation information. The letter also asked the manufacturers to promote the installation of angle of attack indicators in new and existing aircraft as a way to reduce general aviation loss-of-control accidents—a priority for the FAA, industry, and the National Transportation Safety Board.

Under certification requirements for SLSAs, the manufacturer is responsible for the design, continued operational safety, and quality of all equipment installed in the aircraft. The manufacturer must also review any changes to existing aircraft to ensure they still meet the requirements of the applicable FAA accepted consensus standards. As a result, until manufacturers take action to approve the installation of ADS-B equipment, individual owners cannot meet the FAA’s mandate.

“If you have not already done so, you may want to begin formulating a plan for the initial installation and airworthiness approvals of ADS-B Out equipment on your aircraft—to be ready for requests from owners/operators,” the letter said.

The letter also noted that the ADS-B equipment to be installed must meet the “performance” requirements of the technical standard order (TSO) for ADS-B Out, meaning TSO approval is not necessary.

“The FAA is already in consultation with recognized aviation groups and the aviation industry to discuss ways to meet the requirements of the ADS-B rule, specifically for application to SLSA,” the letter said. 

Aircraft must be equipped with ADS-B Out by Jan. 1, 2020, in order to continue operating in airspace where a Mode C transponder is required today. For many LSA owners, there is currently no path to compliance with the 2020 mandate, an issue raised by AOPA and 13 aviation groups in a joint letter sent to the FAA administrator on Jan. 23.

In that letter, the groups emphasized their support for universal participation in ADS-B, but pointed out that significant hurdles to compliance remain.

Elizabeth Tennyson

Elizabeth A Tennyson

Senior Director of Communications
AOPA Senior Director of Communications Elizabeth Tennyson is an instrument-rated private pilot who first joined AOPA in 1998.
Topics: Light Sport Aircraft, Gear, Advocacy

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