Oct. 16, 2017
With the ADS-B deadline approaching on Dec. 31, 2019, NBAA dispels the myths about the process for equipping with this key NextGen technology.
Dec. 31, 2019, may seem like a long way off, but it’s a hard deadline for business aircraft operators to install automatic dependent surveillance broadcast (ADS-B) capabilities. Once January 2020 arrives, ADS-B will be required to operate in most airspace over the continental United States.
With the deadline approaching, many operators have already equipped for ADS-B, but there are still some that may not have moved forward because of “myths” about the process for equipping with this key NextGen technology.
Myth #1: Costs Will Still Come Down
Some operators may have delayed installing ADS-B equipment because they believe that installation costs will decrease over time.
“As we get closer to the January 2020 deadline, installation costs will certainly go up as demand exceeds supply,” noted Bob Hazy, manager of Duncan Aviation’s facility in Sacramento, CA.
That said, methods are available to keep costs down, such as installing only an ADS-B “Out” capability, as required by the mandate. This provides air traffic controllers with highly accurate, GPS-derived traffic information; adding optional ADS-B “In” capability displays the same position data to the crew in the cockpit, complementing the aircraft’s existing traffic alerting system, although installing the ADS-B In equipment adds to the bottom line.
As we get closer to the January 2020 deadline, installation costs will certainly go up as demand exceeds supply.
Another option is to pursue one of several FAA approved solutions from non-OEM providers that often represent a cost-effective alternative.
“These third-party solutions offer targeted ADS-B solutions without the need to invest in additional equipment required under the manufacturer’s service bulletin,” Hazy noted. “Each available solution should be carefully considered before making a final decision for equipage.”
Myth #2: There’s Still Plenty of Time
The availability of slots at repair shops that perform ADS-B upgrades will only decrease as the January 2020 deadline approaches, which means operators should act now to utilize available capacity at repair shops.
“The closer we get to the deadline, the harder it’s going to be to find open maintenance slots for ADS-B installation,” noted Ed Hillman, director of maintenance for Mid-Ohio Aviation, who recently had ADS-B equipment installed in his company’s Cessna Citation Excel. “When you factor in the time and manpower required, it’s pretty clear that we’ll be facing a significant crunch as the deadline nears.”
“Compounding the urgency to get this done now is the fact operators will add other equipment at the same time, consuming scarce man-hours available,” added Paul Spranger, maintenance director with Crawford Leasing in Wichita, KS.
Myth #3: My Aircraft Will Be out of Service Too Long
While it’s true that equipping a business aircraft with ADS-B often can require several weeks to add or swap out avionics, there are ways operators can minimize that downtime.
For example, Hillman authorized initial work toward supporting a future installation of ADS-B during his Excel’s Phase 5 maintenance inspection last year. At that time, he had his aircraft’s dual flight management system boxes upgraded to support WAAS (Wide Area Augmentation System) and LPV (localizer performance with vertical guidance) capabilities.
“We saved a lot of time on the back end,” he explained. “Everything was finished and ready to go within the three and a half weeks it took to perform the inspection.”
The closer we get to the deadline, the harder it’s going to be to find open maintenance slots for ADS-B installation.
The Excel’s full ADS-B installation was completed earlier this year. Hillman also opted to have ADS-B equipment installed on his company’s Citation Bravo while it was in for paint and interior refurbishment earlier this year, another move that saved time and money.
Myth #4: My Aircraft Is Too Old
Even with many lower-cost options available, it’s understandable that operators may balk at ADS-B equipage costs for older aircraft with comparatively low hull values. Some operators may even consider retiring those aircraft in favor of newer models – a pricey alternative.
Spranger recently coordinated an ADS-B installation on a customer’s Learjet 35A, a type introduced in the mid-1970s that remains popular today.
“There was no hesitation or discussion about possibly replacing the Lear instead of adding ADS-B,” said Spranger. “We came to the mutual decision that now was the best time to install ADS-B with regard to price, technology and shop availability.
“In my experience, operators really don’t consider equipage as a killer issue for retiring an older airplane, because these are still working aircraft,” Spranger continued. “Owners see ADS-B as simply another piece of necessary equipment for keeping their aircraft flying.”
Myth #5: My Aircraft Doesn’t Have a Solution Yet
While OEMs have developed ADS-B solutions for most of the current generation of business aircraft, there remain a handful of aircraft that still do not have an OEM-supported solution.
In nearly all these cases, outside providers have stepped in to keep those aircraft flying after the January 2020 deadline. “Customers are often surprised to discover that there may be multiple options for their aircraft,” Hazy said.
In my experience, operators really don’t consider equipage as a killer issue for retiring an older airplane, because these are still working aircraft.
Regardless of an operator’s possible reasons for delaying equipage, Hazy implored anyone who hasn’t equipped for ADS-B already to start the conversation now with their preferred avionics facility.
“There are a lot of opportunities out there for ADS-B that pilots should already be discussing with their avionics shops,” he concluded. “First and foremost, I want to take care of all my customers, and the best way for me to do so is to encourage them to equip for ADS-B sooner, rather than later.”
What Do I Need for ADS-B Out?
In basic terms, compliance with the ADS-Out mandate requires:
- a WAAS-enabled GPS receiver approved for ADS-B Out
- a transponder with 1090 MHz Extended Squitter (1090ES capability to transmit the additional data on frequencies already used by Mode S transponders throughout the world)
- any equipment necessary to combine that data
- a transmitting antenna
Equipping for ADS-B Out fulfills the FAA mandate, but taking full advantage of ADS-B technology requires the aircraft to also be equipped with ADS-B In capabilities, which enables pilots to see the same data that is transmitted to ATC, including real-time traffic position and free flight information system-broadcast weather information.
ADS-B In requires the addition of:
- a receiving unit to disseminate that data
- a cockpit display able to project it for pilots
The display can be a panel-mounted screen, although an increasingly popular and cost-effective solution is to send that data wirelessly to a portable electronic device, such as an iPad.
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This article originally appeared in the November/December 2017 issue of Business Aviation Insider. Download the magazine app for iOS and Android tablets and smartphones.