June 2, 2017

Dec. 31, 2019, may seem a long way off, but it’s a hard deadline for operators to equip their aircraft with ADS-B capabilities. Once Jan. 1, 2020, arrives, ADS-B will be required to operate in most airspace over the continental United States.

And with as many as 7,000 aircraft still unequipped for ADS-B, shop capacity for these installations will only grow scarcer as the deadline approaches. Operators that wait until the last minute may discover that time has run out.

Dan Costa, who operates a Bombardier Challenger 604 and Beechcraft King Air 300 on behalf of a major clothing manufacturer, said that realization came to him during a recent visit to a busy general aviation airport.

“I saw all the aircraft that, in less than three years, will be grounded without ADS-B,” he explained. “How will it be possible to equip all those planes in time, unless we get started right now? And that was just one airport.”

After deciding to equip his fleet with ADS-B, Costa had to find a solution that would keep his aircraft flying with a minimum of downtime. He brought those concerns to maintenance provider Duncan Aviation, which offered him an incentive to equip both planes with ADS-B equipment during upcoming scheduled maintenance intervals.

That plan represented crucial time and cost savings for Costa, as installation of ADS-B equipment often requires several weeks. Equipment installed in Costa’s airplanes included:

  • A Wide Area Augmentation System-enabled GPS receiver approved for ADS-B
  • A transponder with 1090 MHz Extended Squitter capability to transmit the additional data
  • Any equipment necessary to combine that data
  • A transmitting antenna

“Duncan worked with me so there wasn’t any additional labor involved, and since everything was already apart, it made sense to perform the installs at the same time,” Costa added. He further recommended that other business aircraft operators take a similar approach for their own ADS-B installations – and sooner rather than later.

“Things are going to get crazier the closer we get to the deadline,” explained Costa. “Shop space will fill up rapidly as 2020 approaches, and costs will likely rise as well. You don’t want your aircraft grounded for weeks or months at a time, waiting for a slot to open.

“Do it now, and you’ll be glad it’s done,” Costa concluded.