Aviation, like the military, has never created an acronym that it does not like. ADS-B is one of the latest and greatest string of letters with which we need to become familiar. And yes, in choosing the title that I have for this blog, I’m having a little fun with the alphabet soup of letters that we create and use in aviation. My goal however, is to keep this as simple as possible. You can fill in your own complicated terminology around the subject as your education expands on ADS-B. Personally, I like simple and understandable so that is what I’ll try to stick with here.

Let’s start with simple questions and straight-forward answers. Sound good?

What Does ADS-B Mean?
Automatic Dependent Surveillance – Broadcast. I hope this article has been helpful and that clears everything up for you. Have a great day and please share everything that you’ve learned with your friends and colleagues.

…NO, I’m kidding! There is more, I promise.

Automatic means that the utilization of the equipment and signals requires no input from you (except maybe to hit the little “on” button after you start your engine.
Dependent means that the accuracy of the information shared is “dependent” on the information received from the aircrafts navigation equipment.
Surveillance means close and continuous observation.
Broadcast means to broadcast…and we all know what that means! Hang on. Don’t go anywhere. Let me look it up in the dictionary. Ah, here we go… “cast or scattered in all directions”. That makes sense.

What Is ADS-B?
ADS-B allows an aircraft, through onboard equipment, to determine its exact position utilizing satellite navigation and then share that position with other aircraft in the area (ADS-B “Out”). Additionally, your aircraft can receive the position of other aircraft in your area through their fancy equipment (ADS-B “In”).

While it’s nice that all of our aircraft are up here having a dinner party with witty conversations with each other and an exquisite chianti, wouldn’t it be nice if air traffic control also had access to all of our locations? Well the FAA thought of everything, and allows our sophisticated equipment to share our locations with air traffic control as well. Isn’t the FAA brilliant? Rest assured that now I can see you, you can see me, and the FAA…like all of government, can see all of us! (I almost got political, didn’t I?)

What Does ADS-B “In” and “Out” Mean?
Didn’t I just explain that in the paragraph above! It’s okay, you haven’t had your coffee yet. I understand. Your ADS-B “out” sends a signal out to other aircraft and air traffic control and your ADS-B “in” receives the signals from all of the other aircraft in the area and the ground station.

How Do I Know If My Airplane Requires ADS-B?
Any aircraft operating in Class A, B, or C airspace must comply. Also, any aircraft operating in Class E airspace (above FL 100 MSL but not below 2,500 ft AGL) must comply.

When Is the Deadline for Compliance?
The FAA is mandating that all aircraft required to comply must comply by January 1, 2020. Sounds far off, right? Shops will be getting busier and busier as we approach this deadline and finding a slot for your aircraft will become more difficult between now and January 1, 2020. Many shops are recommending that you go ahead and make the decision to comply and schedule your equipment installation.

You must have ADS-B in and out, right? NO! The FAA is only requiring ADS-B “OUT”. There is no requirement for “IN”. By having ADS-B “in” however, you will be able to see other aircraft and raise your level of awareness and safety.

Why Is The FAA Mandating This?
So that we won’t run into each other. Well, okay, there is much more to it than that. Let me explain.

The ADS-B requirement is the primary component of the FAA’s NextGen ATC program. In short, the FAA is moving from a ground-based radar system to a satellite-sourced aircraft location system called NextGen. There is still a ground-based component to ADS-B (I think it is because THAT’s where the air traffic controllers hang out), but the expectation is that the cost is substantially less than the current ground-based radar system.

The idea is to accommodate the growing number of aircraft in the sky. ADS-B will make flying safer by providing the pilots and controllers with more precise traffic information. But in addition to the traffic awareness, aircraft with specific equipment such as a Universal Access Transceiver (UAT) or a portable receiver (such as an iPad) can also receive weather radar information and reports (from the ground-based stations). These reports are received via Flight Information Service – Broadcasts (FIS-B).

I can hear you already… ”WELL, THAT’S JUST GREAT!” “Toss in some new acronyms just as you are about to wrap up the blog!” It’s true that UAT and FIS-B are new to this blog, but so is TIS-B. TIS-B is Traffic Information Service – Broadcast and is the means by which you can receive flight information such as TFR’s (oh come on, you already know about TFR’s) and NOTAMS, if your plane is equipped with either UAT or 1090 ES ADS-B systems. 1090 stands for 1090 MHz frequency.

Here are other benefits listed on the FAA’s web site:

  • Air-to-air surveillance capability.
  • Surveillance in remote or inhospitable areas with no radar coverage.
  • Real-time traffic and aeronautical information in the cockpit.
  • Allows reduced separation.
  • Greater predictability in departure and arrival times.
  • Supports common separation standards, horizontal and vertical, for all classes of airspace.
  • Improves ability of airlines to manage traffic and aircraft fleets.
  • Improves ability of air traffic controllers to plan arrivals and departures far in advance.
  • Allows for tracking of airport ground vehicles. (ADS-B Vehicle Transmitter Maps)
  • Reduces taxpayer costs associated with the air traffic infrastructure.

What Is the Best Possible Solution to Comply?
Buy a boat! No, that’s not what I meant to say.

Your search for the answer to this question starts with your existing panel. Do you have an old transponder and a handheld GPS …or… a Garmin G1000 panel? More than likely, you have something between these two options. Do you just want ADS-B “out” or do you prefer the “El Presidente Special” and install ADS-B “in” and “out”?

What Will This Cost?
This is a moving target and, like the paragraph above, depends in large part on what you already have in your panel. Prices will continue to come down (but only so far), so, quoting any numbers here is to risk having this blog become obsolete long before it should. We’re having way too much fun writing and reading this to let that happen! Right?

What Happens If I Just Don’t Comply?
Well aren’t you a rebel!

If you fly into any airspace where ADS-B out is required and ATC determines that you do not have the required equipment, you will be sent to your room and not allowed to return to that airspace. You might also receive a phone call and letter from the FED’s. I say “FED’s” instead of the FAA because I’m trying to sound dramatic. I can deal with the FAA, but not the FED’s!

As long as you never fly your aircraft in the airspace requiring ADS-B out, then you don’t need it. This is completely unrealistic for most aircraft (and the pilots who fly them), however. Also, the value of your aircraft will be affected negatively if it is not ADS-B compliant as we near the January 1, 2020 deadline.

Does this all sound very reminiscent of RVSM of several years ago?

Who Do I Call If I Have Questions?
Call your avionics shop. Call manufactures and pick their brain. Call your pilot friends and see if they are on-point or misinformed.

Our suggestion is that you first secure a basic understanding of ADS-B on your own and the associated terminology so that you can speak intelligently when you make your calls. In other words, educate yourself first and then let others augment your basic understanding. Reading this blog was a very good first step. (If you skipped to this part without reading everything above, then you’ve really missed out). Go to the top and read it all and when you’re done, read the information provided in the links below.

If we can be of any service to you, then we look forward to the opportunity to serve you in this way. Either call us at (615) 494-1900 or email us at fly@MurfreesboroAviation.com. Simply state that you read the blog and have questions regarding ADS-B.

Flying has become safer for many reasons, but in part, due to our technology. Are there risks in relying more and more on technology? Of course, but the risks are a “once in awhile” or “may happen” concern. The benefits are an everyday advantage for those of us who fly, regardless of why we fly.

The cost of ADS-B compliance (in and out) is coming down. Stay on top of the news, ask questions to those who are creating ADS-B solutions, read and join in on forums, and visit your local avionics shop to learn more about the “current” best solution.

Finally, don’t put this off too long. Educate yourself – make a decision – book your installation – and fly ADS-B compliant.

Here Are Some Useful Links
FAA: http://www.faa.gov/nextgen/programs/adsb/general/, http://www.faa.gov/nextgen/programs/adsb/
Aviation Seminars: http://www.cfireport.com/?page_id=16
Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Automatic_dependent_surveillance_%E2%80%93_broadcast
Garmin: http://ads-b.garmin.com/en-US, http://www8.garmin.com/aviation/brochures/adsb.pdf
FreeFlightSystems: http://www.freeflightsystems.com/products/ads-b
AOPA: http://www.aopa.org/Search?keyword=ads-b#gsc.tab=0&gsc.ref=aopa&gsc.q=ads-b&gsc.page=1, http://www.aopa.org/Advocacy/Air-Traffic-Services-,-a-,-Technology/Air-Traffic-Services-Brief-Automatic-Dependent-Surveillance-Broadcast-ADS-B
NavWorx: http://www.navworx.com/
Aspen Avionics: https://www.aspenavionics.com/search?q=ads-b
Bendix/King: https://www.bendixking.com/Search-Results?searchtext=ads-b&searchmode=anyword
YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=ads-b+solutions