The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is a governmental body of the United States with powers to regulate all aspects of civil aviation in the nation as well as over its surrounding international waters. Its powers include the construction and operation of airports, air traffic management, and the certification of personnel and aircraft.
The FAA’s roles include:
- Regulating U.S. commercial space transportation
- Regulating air navigation facilities’ geometric and flight inspection standards
- Encouraging and developing civil aeronautics, including new aviation technology
- Issuing, suspending, or revoking pilot certificates
- Regulating civil aviation to promote transportation safety in the United States, especially through local offices called Flight Standards District Offices
- Developing and operating a system of air traffic control and navigation for both civil and military aircraft
- Researching and developing the National Airspace System and civil aeronautics
- Developing and carrying out programs to control aircraft noise and other environmental effects of civil aviation
In 2010, the FAA mandated that by the year 2020, all commercial aircraft and aircraft flying in Class A, B & C airspace are required to be equipped with transponders having ADS-B Out capability. ADS-B is a system in which electronic equipment onboard an aircraft automatically broadcasts the precise location of the aircraft using a transponder on the aircraft. The data can be used by other aircraft and air traffic control to show the aircraft’s position and altitude on display screens without the need for radar.
Recently, Business View Magazine contacted the FAA to find out more about the ADS-B mandate. The following is an edited transcript of that communication.
BVM: What is the purpose for the ADS-B mandate and what was the catalyst that necessitated the change?
FAA: “As the demand for our nation’s airspace grows, NextGen improvements are helping to guide and track aircraft more precisely on more direct routes. The Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast (ADS-B) is a key NextGen enabling technology that leverages the accuracy and reliability of the GPS satellite system to track aircraft in real time, and to provide a new level of situation awareness. As more aircraft are equipped, ADS-B increases safety and efficiency that will help meet the predicted increase in air traffic in coming years.”
BVM: “How does the fulfillment of this mandate provide better security and safety for our country, pilots, and airports?
FAA: “ADS-B is a transformational technology that provides the foundation for the FAA’s initiative to modernize the air traffic management system to improve safety and efficiency. Real-time ADS-B is used to provide air traffic control services, improving safety and efficiency in the air and on runways. Aircraft with ADS-B Out enjoy air traffic control services in more extensive coverage areas and accurate location data for search and rescue. With ADS-B In avionics, aircraft can receive traffic information, which enhances pilot “see-and-avoid” responsibilities. ADS-B In receivers capable of receiving the Universal Access Transceiver (UAT) broadcast link have access to subscription-free weather and aeronautical information in the cockpit, enhancing pilot situation awareness.”
BVM: What is the best practice for pilots and corporations to implement this change? Are we already seeing success stories from those who have already launched?
FAA: “Yes, controllers and pilots are already experiencing the benefits of ADS-B. Benefits to pilots include Traffic Information Service – Broadcast (or TIS-B), an ADS-B In service. TIS-B significantly enhances pilot situation awareness for additional safety benefits. With traffic displayed in the cockpit, pilots and air traffic controllers are able to communicate with shared awareness of conflicting aircraft traffic. With TIS-B, a pilot will not only see air-to-air traffic, but also the radar targets sent from ground stations, resulting in a more complete picture of traffic around the aircraft.
“ADS-B’s Flight Information Service – Broadcast (or FIS-B) is another free ADS-B In service; however, FIS-B is only available to aircraft who can receive data over 978 MHz (UAT). FIS-B automatically transmits a wide range of weather products with national and regional focus to all equipped aircraft. Having current weather and aeronautical information in the cockpit helps pilots plan more safe and efficient flight paths, as well as make strategic decisions during flight to avoid potentially hazardous developing weather.
“Effective January 1, 2020, aircraft are required to equip with ADS-B Out to fly in most controlled airspace. Federal Regulation 14 CFR 91.225 defines the airspace within which these requirements apply. The rule applies to all aircraft, including foreign registered. It is important to note that aircraft not originally certificated with an electrical system, or subsequently certified with such a system installed, are exceptions. This includes balloons and gliders.
“To meet the mandate, operators should follow the following steps:
- Choose the right ADS-B Out equipment to install.
“There are two types of equipment operators can choose from to meet the ADS-B mandate: Mode S transponder-based (1090 MHz) equipment or Universal Access Transceiver (UAT, 978 MHz) equipment. Aircraft operating at or above FL180 (18,000 feet, Class A airspace) must be equipped with a Mode S-transponder-based ADS-B transmitter. Aircraft operating below 18,000 feet and within U.S. airspace can equip with either a Mode S transponder with Extended Squitter or Universal Access Transceiver (UAT) equipment. Operators must also have a position source that meets the performance requirements of the rule.
“The Equip ADS-B website has a list of FAA-certified equipment installations that meet the performance requirements of the ADS-B rule. There is also a database which can be searched by aircraft make and model to find the approved equipage solutions for particular aircraft.
“When selecting ADS-B equipment, operators should also consider whether or not they have a need to change their call sign. If the flight plan call sign and the ADS-B transmitted call sign don’t match, this creates a mismatch, which is a problem for ATC. Please refer to the following link for more information on call sign mismatch: www.faa.gov/nextgen/equipadsb/installation/call_sign.
- Once equipped, check to ensure installed ADS-B Out equipment is functioning properly.
“The FAA recommends that all aircraft owners and operators check the performance of newly installed ADS-B equipment. The check can be accomplished at any time using the FAA provided online tool called the Public ADS-B Performance Report (available on the Equip ADS-B website).
“The FAA has also detected changes in avionics performance over time, so while it isn’t required, it’s a great idea for aircraft owners and operators to periodically check the performance of their ADS-B equipment after the initial check to ensure it is functioning correctly and the FAA and other ADS-B In equipped aircraft are receiving accurate data. If an ADS-B performance report indicates an issue (red flag), the aircraft owner or operator should use that information to assist their avionics shop with troubleshooting and corrective action.
- Don’t wait – Equip Now!
“The FAA encourages owners to equip as soon as possible to capture ADS-B benefits and to ensure they will be able to access all available airspace once the mandate becomes effective in 2020.”
BVM: What are some areas of interest regarding the mandate and compliance to the mandate, that airports, airlines, corporations, and private pilots engaged in General Aviation should consider pre-launch? What areas should FBOs consider?
FAA: “There are now over 90,000 U.S. aircraft with properly installed ADS-B avionics. The FAA estimates that as many as 105,000-166,000 aircraft may need to equip with ADS-B Out (5,000-6,000 Part 121 Air Carrier, 100,000-160,000 all other operators).
“The Nationwide ADS-B network has been complete since 2014. The FAA continues to integrate ADS-B into air traffic control automation systems as they are modernized as part of NextGen. ADS-B is currently integrated in all FAA en route centers and all 155 terminal air traffic control facilities at major U.S. airports. At these modernized facilities, ADS-B data fuses with other available surveillance data to give air traffic controllers the most precise tracking possible.
“ADS-B improves safety and efficiency in the air and on runways, reduces costs, and lessens harmful effects on the environment. ADS-B surveillance is available to ATC at lower altitudes and more remote locations than radar. Operators can likely get better ATC services in more areas using ADS-B. This applies to any ADS-B equipped aircraft, including rentals, etc.
“An interactive ADS-B airspace and coverage map is available on the Equip ADS-B website. Users with Google Earth can download this file to view the location of ADS-B rule airspace at their home base and where they fly. This may be very useful for both private pilots and FBOs who can pan and zoom to different locations and turn on the various capabilities of the map including 3-dimensional depictions of rule airspace, airports, and overlays of ADS-B surveillance coverage.
“Again, the FAA encourages operators to equip as soon as possible to capture ADS-B benefits and to ensure they will be able to access all available airspace once the mandate becomes effective in 2020.”