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IFR Fix: All aboard for ADS-BIFR Fix: All aboard for ADS-B

Time’s almost up. After January 1, 2020, you can’t fly in what we have come to refer to as “rule airspace” defined by FAR 91.225 unless your aircraft has an approved installation of ADS-B Out.

A&P/IA Carlo Cilliers installs a uAvionix skyBeacon wingtip UAT on a Cessna 170B. Photo by Mike Collins.

Seems like just yesterday we were writing about the approaching ADS-B-installation mandate in terms of years, not months or weeks. So much has been said about the requirements and benefits of using this major component of the NextGen air traffic system’s modernization that it’s hard to imagine there are many pilots still out there who are still uninformed. But it won’t surprise us if someone gets in touch demanding to know why “nobody said anything about it until now.”

If you remain unconvinced of the value of being ADS-B capable, note that the most basic sacrifice you’ll be making without it is that you will lose access to airspace most succinctly described as airspace where a transponder is now required.

To review, ADS-B uses the position broadcast by a GPS aboard your aircraft rather than its position on radar to make it visible to ATC and aircraft equipped with ADS-B In—the optional component of ADS-B.

A time-tested flight review exercise for airspace awareness is to ask a pilot to figure out a VFR-navigation course to fly while squawking 1200 and without using a radio between two airports separated by a variety of airspace classes. Some VFR and IFR pilots may now be indulging in a similar drill to determine where they’ll be able to go without ADS-B Out.

It won’t be as simple as staying below 10,000 feet msl (within the 48 contiguous states and the District of Columbia) and away from most classes of controlled airspace.  For example, any approach course that grazes “rule airspace” will be off limits.

If you tell yourself you’ll just give ATC a call and request clearance through ADS-B airspace, that won’t work either. Requests must be made prior to flight using an ADS-B Deviation Authorization Preflight Tool (ADAPT). Look for an ADAPT fact sheet online by late December.

A word about optional ADS-B In: It enhances your situational awareness by displaying weather and traffic information in the cockpit. The benefits of its Traffic Information Services-Broadcast (TIS-B) and Flight Information Services-Broadcast (FIS-B) are many and likely would quickly make you a believer.

By now shop time may be getting scarce for a deadline-beating appointment, with some schedules booked a few months into 2020; so, if you don’t want to “go missed” on ADS-B, it’s decision time.

If you own an aircraft that is not yet equipped, AOPA offers informational resources online.

Dan Namowitz

Dan Namowitz

Associate Editor Web
Associate Editor Web Dan Namowitz has been writing for AOPA in a variety of capacities since 1991. He has been a flight instructor since 1990 and is a 30-year AOPA member.
Topics: Advocacy, Aircraft Regulation, Technology

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