Dec. 16, 2013

Australia has become the latest country to require ADS-B equipage of all aircraft operating at or above FL 290 in its airspace. The Dec. 12, 2013, compliance deadline was established to improve the safety and efficiency of air traffic management. It will enable controllers to better manage increasing air traffic in upper altitudes and increase the use of flexible routing for trans-continental flights.

However, for many aircraft, Australia’s Civil Aviation Safety Authority’s (CASA’s) deadline has been unreachable. Equipping or retrofitting a business jet with a highly integrated avionics suite takes time, and business aircraft manufacturers around the world have warned that providing factory-supported supplemental type certificates (STCs) for the installation of ADS-B equipment has been subject to significant delays. Therefore, CASA decided to allow for a temporary exemption from the ADS-B mandate for certain operators in certain airspace.

While ADS-B is now the primary surveillance system for flight over much of the Australian continent, secondary surveillance radar (SSR) will remain for a period of time as the primary system used by Airservices Australia in controlled terminal areas as well as the special east-coast radar area – the J-curved section of airspace extending from 200 nm north of Cairns to 200 nm west of Adelaide. This coverage area includes Australia’s top three major metropolitan areas of Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane. It is within these areas that the temporary exemption from ADS-B compliance applies.

The exemption is offered to both Australian and foreign-registered aircraft and is designed to provide a two-year temporary relief to allow sufficient time for the operator to fully certify and equip the aircraft. There are several requirements and conditions outlined in order to take advantage of the exemption, primarily that operators must provide CASA with an installation plan outlining the intention and schedule by which ADS-B equipment will be installed.

Additionally, operators should note the following:

  • Notification must be made to CASA in writing no less than 14 days prior to intended operation in the exempted airspace. That notification must include the following: aircraft type, model, serial number, nationality and registration marks for each aircraft to be operated under the exemption.
  • For each aircraft, operators must submit an ADS-B installation plan for the installation of serviceable ADS-B transmitting equipment. This plan must include target dates for the required steps toward final successful installation.
  • Operators must receive a return written acknowledgement and acceptance of the notification from CASA in order for the exemption to be valid.
  • The exemption period runs from Dec. 12, 2013, through Dec. 11, 2015. Under no circumstances will this period be extended.
  • Operators who receive exemption authorization must include the following details on line 18 of each flight plan filed: RMK/ADSB EXEMPT.

Operators who plan to fly in non-exempted airspace (that area outside terminal areas and the J-curve (SSR radar area) must be ADS-B equipped and compliant as of Dec. 12, 2013. Airspace is not exempted over most of mainland Australia, within the 12-mile territorial limit, or over specific parts of the Gulf of Carpentaria, Bass Strait and the Great Australian Bight. For details on the lateral limits of the exempted SSR radar area, including a general coverage map, see the CASA exemption instrument.