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ADS-B: Is it time to buy?ADS-B: Is it time to buy?

Rebates making a difference for someRebates making a difference for some

Ah, yes. Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast (ADS-B). Do aircraft owners think it’s time to buy? At EAA AirVenture 2016, the answer was clear: A definite maybe.
Pilots visit the FAA's NextGen and ADS-B exhibit at EAA AirVenture 2016. Interest in the new technology, required to fly in airspace where a transponder is mandated today beginning in January 2020, is higher than ever. Photo by Mike Collins.

ADS-B uses satellites instead of ground-based radar to determine aircraft location, and is a key technology behind the FAA’s Next Generation Air Traffic Control System. The FAA has mandated ADS-B Out beginning Jan. 1, 2020, for flight in airspace where a transponder is required today. For GA aircraft owners, the greatest benefits accrue from enhanced situational awareness afforded by optional ADS-B In services—specifically, traffic information and subscription-free weather.

AOPA’s ADS-B panel discussions at AirVenture drew noticeably larger crowds than they did last year, or at Sun ’n Fun this spring. And an unscientific poll of the audience—almost all aircraft owners—indicated that most are getting serious about their ADS-B equipage options. Many indicated that they would like to equip in 2017 or 2018, but some said they would wait until 2019.

During the show, ADS-B manufacturers appeared to have a steady stream of potential customers, many of whom seemed to be considering the myriad options available to them for meeting the 2020 mandate. Some were motivated by the FAA’s recently announced $500 rebate for the installation of certified avionics into single-engine piston aircraft—and others were not.

“I’m going to have to equip. I’m not optional,” said Todd Quesnel of Houston. He needs to equip both his Beechcraft Bonanza V35B and de Havilland DHC-1 Chipmunk.

He’s been thinking about ADS-B Out equipage for about a year. The FAA rebate is driving his timing, Quesnel acknowledged. “I’m obviously going to have to spend this money. If the government is going to give me $500, I’d want to take advantage of it.”

On the other hand, Peter Corry of Hot Springs, Arkansas, is not driven by the FAA rebate—or concerns about scheduling an ADS-B installation before the mandate takes effect. “I’m just starting to think about it,” he said. Corry owns a Cessna 421. “I’m still looking.”

His friend Leonard Framalin of Pontiac, Michigan, wants to equip sooner rather than later. “I want to get it done by next year, at the latest,” he said. Framalin owns both a Cessna 421 and a Beechcraft Bonanza—and they both already have ADS-B-compliant WAAS GPS receivers. One has a Garmin GTX 330 transponder. “If I upgrade that, it will be easy” to get ADS-B Out for that airplane, he said.

Corry and Framalin used to be based at the same airport, and were visiting ADS-B equipment manufacturers at AirVenture with their mechanic to learn more about their options.

“I’m just really starting to look into [ADS-B],” said Cynthia Newport, who bases her Varga Kachina at Lloyd Stearman Field in Benton, Kansas. “At my home airport, I’ve been talking to other people about what you need to have. I’m still a novice at it.”

Newport said she flies only under VFR conditions, and she’s not terribly interested in the optional ADS-B In benefits of traffic and weather information in her current aircraft. “I’m just trying to be compliant” with the 2020 mandate, she said. “I look out the window and if I see an airplane, I don’t hit it.”

She is well aware that the deadline is in January 2020. “But if I can get a good price, I’ll have them put it in at the next annual,” Newport said.

The FAA’s ADS-B educational efforts are in full force, with a large NextGen display in the FAA Pavilion at AirVenture and employees on hand to answer questions. At AirVenture, the agency distributed a publication that explains the FAA’s imminent $500 ADS-B Out equipage rebate, and extols some of the benefits available to general aviation pilots from ADS-B. (The publication is not yet available online.)

At a Meet the Administrator session July 28, FAA Administrator Michael Huerta encouraged aircraft owners to equip with ADS-B Out before the Jan. 1, 2020, deadline and to take advantage of the FAA’s rebate program. “There’s no better time to get off the sidelines and start enjoying the benefits of ADS-B,” Huerta said.

Mike Collins

Mike Collins

Technical Editor
Mike Collins has worked for AOPA’s media network since 1994. He holds a private pilot certificate with an instrument rating.
Topics: Aircraft, Aircraft Maintenance, EAA AirVenture

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