NEXTGEN PROGRESS

ADS-B Out has become a firm 2020 requirement

FAA's final rule on this new identification instrumentation is here. What should you know now and how should you prepare to be compliant?


Current coverage map of ADS-B ground transceiver stations. FAA will receive positioning data from aircraft and provide other-protocol traffic, terrain and weather advisories to ADS-B In equipped aircraft. The full service volume is on track to be in place by 2014.

On selecting a provider to carry out the upgrade, Murphy advises, "Good documentation (wiring prints, engineering approvals, manuals, etc) and logbook signoffs from industry-recognized organizations are valuable.

Consider what ongoing warranty and technical support can be expected from the installer. Does the installer fully understand how the new avionics will integrate with existing systems?

"Remember," he says, "that lowest cost is not always best value. Be cautious when choosing which equipment manufacturer to use. Installing equipment from a company which is just getting into a line of avionics may be risky.

Consider tax implications year over year which may be more favorable for your company."
A typical company flight manager—whether of a single-engine piston business aircraft or a large international fleet—might ask the following questions:

• Will we still operate this aircraft in 2020? If not, what is the effect on value of not equipping with ADS-B Out as the deadline approaches?
• If we retain the aircraft, which protocol (1090ES or UAT) serves us better?
• Do we want only minimum "out" capability initially, or do we need the "in" function installed?
• Do our current installed systems support ADS-B? If so, to what extent?
• When do we upgrade, who does the work and what systems do we go with?
• What effect will this upgrade have on the airframe's value for trade-in or resale?

The avionics team that supports your aircraft is key. First they must assess what is in the aircraft, what it will support, and whether in the long run a complete replacement might be better value than simply adding on to existing systems.

The major avionics manufacturers have some ADS-B Out systems available now, but the full range of equipment should roll out in the near future. A smart operator can make a number of decisions in advance even if the exact upgrade make/model is not yet known.

The TSOs and ACs provide enough information to make strategic decisions. For example, for an aircraft which is Mode S and TCAS II equipped, the best path might be the TCAS v7.1 upgrade and add-on capability to operate with 1090ES protocol.

A low-altitude operator routinely going into remote locations might find the UAT protocol with both "out" and "in" capability the best solution. A privately-owned turbine aircraft will require 1090ES protocol to access Class A airspace and might add UAT In-only capability to gain automatic dependent surveillance–rebroadcast (ADS-R), flight information services–broadcast (FIS-B) and traffic information services–broad­cast (TIS-B) information to the flightdeck.

Decision-makers might also consider the larger vision of NextGen beyond their immediate need to comply with ADS-B Out. For the NextGen plan to reach full development, aircraft in the NAS will have to be ADS-B In equipped to receive ADS-B Direct, ADS-R, TIS-B and other datalink functions.

These services will provide traffic advisories to the cockpit and FAA will build on this advantage to expedite traffic through several programs. FAA has also created an incentive for aircraft to equip beyond the minimum through a policy of "best equipped/best served."

For example, data communications is part of the future air navigation system (FANS) program. Boeing and Airbus developed integrated communication and navigation capabilities—FANS 1 and FANS A, respectively—providing controller/pilot datalink communications (CPDLC) and the ability to send some data autonomously from the aircraft to the ATC system through automatic dependent surveillance–contract (ADS-C).

Operators targeted these new navigation and communication capabilities primarily for oceanic airspace, enabling a safe reduction in separation between aircraft from 100 nm to as low as 50 nm.

The outgrowth of the FANS concept includes the data communications program. Essentially, this is text data directly to and from the cockpit over voice-only communications. FAA wants to encourage operators to equip sooner rather than later by offering the "best equipped/best served" concept. Among the advantages FAA offers to data communications (DC) equipped aircraft are:

• An aircraft can take off without waiting for ground delivery of pre-departure reroute needed for weather.
• An aircraft may return to its original route when rerouted before departure if weather does not materialize.
• Potentially, offering priority to being rerouted from a blocked arrival fix to a new arrival fix, moving DC equipped aircraft further up in the stream than voice-only aircraft.
• Giving revised pre-departure clearances first and allowing them to get in the taxi queue before voice-only aircraft.

Configuring your company's aircraft beyond the minimum might be worth the investment depending on the profiles flown. If real saving could be realized by equipping early to the DC standard, it might be worth the investment. The risk is that equipping early might require updates or replacement as the technology matures.

Another tantalizing consideration is that there is a reasonable technical argument for delaying any mandate beyond 2020. With any change to the NAS as monumental as this, arguments to delay the ADS-B Out start date are always present. Still, FAA has published the final rule, and not being ready on Jan 1, 2020 will effectively ground your aircraft.

Rapid technical improvements to the first run of ADS-B Out avionics will certainly lead to upgrades. As you interact with the avionics specialists who will upgrade your aircraft, build in room for change and upgrades. They will come.

Bill Gunn is the com­pliance manager for the State of Texas Aviation Division. He lectures nationally for a private aviation advocacy group and flies for work and pleasure.


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