May 12, 2014

The FAA’s Flight Standards Service (AFS) has created OpSpec/MSpec/LOA A153, a new and more efficient operations authorization for U.S.-registered aircraft in order to comply with early automatic dependent surveillance – broadcast (ADS-B) directives mandated by a growing number of other countries, primarily in the Asia-Pacific region. The new approval is in the final stages of development and is expected to be available to operators at the end of June 2014.

The original authorization, designated A353, which was applicable to U.S. commercial and private aircraft operators conducting operations outside U.S. designated airspace, had to be approved by the responsible flight standards district offices, regional office and by multiple branches at FAA headquarters.

A353 was in response to the growing number of International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) member states that are requiring ADS-B “state-of-registry” approvals for operations above FL 290.

According to the FAA, in earlier years, the A353 process was adequate since the agency was receiving fewer than 10 applications a year. For example, in 2013, just seven A353s were issued, primarily to U.S. operators flying to Canada or Australia. However, air navigation service providers in the Asia-Pacific region had ADS-B mandates go into effect in December 2013, requiring “state-of-registry” compliance. Those countries currently include Hong Kong, the People’s Republic of China, Chinese Taipei, Singapore and Vietnam.

The response by U.S. operators since the end of last year has been dramatic. As of late April, the FAA had already reviewed 92 A353 applications this year, and had an additional 55 applications pending. Fortunately, operators that already have an A353 are not required to reapply for an A153.

The time involved in applying was a major factor in the change, as each operator’s A353 application was averaging 200 pages in length.

“The A353 process is man-power intensive and on average is taking three months from the operator delivery of the application to the field office until HQ completes the application review and signs a memorandum authorizing the field office to issue the A353,” the FAA said.

The FAA’s decision to issue OpSpec/MSpec/LOA A153 has cut the length of the application from 200 to 20 pages, “reducing the burden on the operator and decreasing the time period to process applications.”

ADS-B does not become mandatory in the U.S. until 2020, but NBAA notes that early compliance to meet the ICAO state-of-registry requirements will satisfy the U.S. ADS-B mandate as well.

According to the NBAA Operations Project Manager Brian Koester, there are more operators than ever traveling internationally, and the simplified A153 process “will be a huge relief for those trying to operate in other parts of the world.”

For more information, contact NBAA at