In an industry known for its alphabet soup names and never-ending abbreviations, ADS-B can quickly get lost as just another acronym. Recently, however, with the FAA’s now famous 2020 ADS-B mandate looming closer and closer, it’s becoming the buzzword that reaches from the front pages of Google to every fly-in and convention. So what exactly is ADS-B? Does it affect me, and if so, what exactly am I supposed to do about it?
While we don’t claim to be an ADS-B expert (let’s be real, we did what everyone else is doing and googled this stuff!) we felt the internet wouldn’t be right until we added our two cents to the plethora of information already at your fingertips. As a result, we have attempted to answer some of the most common questions that are being asked by people just like you. By no means will this be a comprehensive list of every question ever thought up. Our goal is to simply give you the information to do a little more than just smile and nod next time someone mentions ADS-B.
What is ADS-B?
Let’s start with the basics. ADS-B stands for Automatic Dependent Surveillance – Broadcast. As far as we can figure, a bunch of engineers didn’t feel like giving this thing a real name, so instead they just listed out everything the system does and called it a day. Once you look at it from that perspective, the name oddly beings to make sense.
- “Automatic” – This system independently gathers information via the GPS that relates to the aircrafts position and then broadcasts that information to ATC. No pilot input is required.
- “Dependent” – while no direct pilot input is required, the system does rely on the aircraft’s navigation system to provide it with all the data it uses, therefore making it dependent on the other systems in the aircraft.
- “Surveillance” – at the core of its existence, ADS-B is a system designed to collect data, and then use that data to provide surveillance information to both ATC and any other nearby aircraft properly equipped to interpret said surveillance.
- “Broadcast” – The unit broadcasts this information so that anyone with the proper equipment, a little know-how, and the desire to snoop on your aircraft’s activities have all the data they need. It’s not like privacy was really a common thing in aviation anyways.
With the basics covered we can move on to the two parts of ADS-B, ADS-B Out and In.
What is the difference between ADS Out and In?
The Out and In functions of the ADS-B unit are exponentially less confusing than ADS-B itself. They essentially do exactly what it sounds like they do. ADS-B Out transmits information OUT of the aircraft to ATC and any other party equipped to receive the information. ADS-B In allows the aircraft to take in what ATC and other ADS-B Out equipped aircraft are transmitting out. The only real reason to highlight the differences in ADS-B In/Out is that the FAA mandate only applies to your aircraft’s ability to spit out information via ADS-B Out. If you want your aircraft to be able to intake any of this information, you’re on your own.
So now we know what ADS-B is, and that ADS-B Out is the only portion that is set to become the FAA’s newest pet peeve. Now for the real question: Who exactly is required to comply with this new mandate?
Who does the 2020 FAA mandate apply to?
The answer is pretty simple. According to the FAA, any aircraft flying in airspace that requires a Mode-C Transponder (typically considered to be any area within and above Class C airspace) will be required to have functional ADS-B Out capabilities. There has been some discussion as to what exactly qualifies as “within and above,” but we’ll leave that subject to the pros on the message boards for now.
How can I comply with the new ADS-B requirements?
One of the most difficult aspects regarding compliance is that there isn’t a one size fits all solution to accomplish compliance with the new regs. Thanks to the ever prevalent avionics updates and after-market mods, no two cockpits are the same, and what works for one system may not work for another. Not to mention the fact that the each individuals idea of “compliance” will run the gamete of doing the bare minimum necessary for compliance to seeing this as a reason to have a complete panel overhaul.
From Garmin to Avidyne, every avionics company out there has their own unique twist on what they can do to help you reach a state of compliance with the mandate. Below are links to some of the most popular solutions for ADS-B. Take some time, educate yourself on what is available, and when all else fails, consult the professionals, also known as your friendly, neighborhood avionics shop.
- Avidyne Solutions
- Aspen Avionics Solutions
- Navworx Solutions
- Trig Avionics solutions
- Free flight systems
- L3 Lynx
- Flight star (Lear 40/45)
Also, we found that if you already have some Garmin products installed, their website offers a quiz style planning tool that will guide you in figuring out which of their solutions is right for you: ads-b.garmin.com/en-US; www.garmin.com/us/intheair/ads-b.
No matter when you need service, Double M Aviation has a technician on call for no extra fees. No call-out fee, just quality service on your schedule at our normal shop rates. Whether it’s an AOG service call or just needing your oil changed outside of business hours, Double M Aviation wants to be your first and last call.