ADS-B Equipage: Key Things to Consider

There is no shortage of information regarding ADS-B: benefits, solutions, cost, installation, certifications, compliance – there is a continuous influx of ADS-B information making headlines and remaining a hot topic within industry forums. Knowledge is power, but too much information can be difficult to digest when evaluating equipage options.

In an effort to alleviate common ADS-B frustrations, presented below is a summary of a few key points to consider in order to help you take advantage of ADS-B systems and achieve rule compliance.

This is a great time to equip.
The ongoing ADS-B conversation has been alive with spirited dialogue with a particular focus on cost. With announcements of sub $2,000 ADS-B Out systems, many are pleased that pricing concerns have been heard, and as result, unit costs have come down. But what about the cost of installation? While unit prices are at their lowest, it is likely that installation costs are going to rise – and here is the reason why:

There are about 200,000 aircraft in the United States that need to be equipped with ADS-B by January 1, 2020. We are at the halfway point between the FAA’s Final Rule in 2010 and the implementation date, and only 10,000 aircraft have been modified.

We’re running out of runway.

ADS-B Sweet SpotWith 95% of the U.S. fleet needing to equip in the next 5 years, the inevitable surge is getting closer – some installers are already booked up to two months in advance. And as that deadline approaches and demand increases, so will the cost of installation.

We are right in the money-saving sweet spot of ADS-B equipage. To avoid the last-minute installation crunch, keep the aircraft where it belongs – in the air – and become compliant for as little money as possible, it looks like now is the best time to equip.

Take advantage of aircraft downtime by equipping during the next annual inspection.
An aircraft belongs in the air – not in the shop or waiting in long installation lines, and as the aircraft will already be grounded during it’s annual, why not use that opportunity to install ADS-B? This “two-birds-one-stone” approach will ensure that the plane spends as little time on the ground as possible.

Between now and 2020, your aircraft will have no more than five annuals. That’s five opportunities to take advantage of aircraft downtime and install ADS-B. But as stated above, we’re in the middle of the money-saving sweet spot. The longer you wait, the more expensive equipage will be. By installing an ADS-B system during the aircraft’s next annual inspection, you not only save time and money, but will also be able to take full advantage of the many benefits that ADS-B brings to flying.

An installed system is the way to go.
Another prevalent topic that comes up in conversation is the use of portable systems for ADS-B Out compliance. However, these systems won’t make you compliant, as the 2020 mandate requires an installed ADS-B Out solution – and for good reason. This is important equipment, and it must meet minimum performance requirements.

When considering a portable ADS-B solution, it is important to keep in mind that while the lower price of portable systems is attractive, these systems can have drawbacks – one major concern being that improper cockpit placement can cause unreliable data exchange. And with a system as crucial as ADS-B, there is zero room for error. With an installed system, however, you’ll get a proper, compliant, professionally installed unit with no messy wires or accessories sitting on the glare shield to overheat in the summer sun.

If you already have a portable receiver, a compliant ADS-B Out system will allow that device to work much better. Upgrading to a fully installed transceive solution is easier now too, as certified systems with both ADS-B In and Out capabilities are available today at lower price points.

Now is a great time to take advantage of flying with ADS-B.


For more information on ADS-B, the following resources are available:

FAA’s NextGen Programs, ADS-B Information

FreeFlight’s ADS-B University

AOPA Air Traffic Services Brief, ADS-B