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FAA’s Equip 2020 Moves Forward

Aug 30, 2017
Robert Kline, U.S. Airline Sales Manager

Robert Kline is the U.S. Airline Sales Manager for Universal Avionics Systems Corporation. He has been involved with the Federal Aviation Administration's (FAA) Equip 2020 Team, attending their meetings since 2014 with a focus on the airline working group.

Robert has over 30 years of experience in the commercial aviation industry, working in certification, engineering, and operational disciplines. Over the years, Robert has worked closely with airlines as the industry transitioned with the first glass cockpit aircraft, and the implementation of Heads-up Guidance System (HGS), Traffic Collision Avoidance System (TCAS), Terrain Awareness and Warning System (TAWS), Enhanced Mode S Surveillance, Airborne Collision Avoidance System (ACAS), and now Performance-Based Navigation (PBN) and data link communications.

ADS-B Out – Ready for Takeoff

Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast (ADS-B) Out is well-known in the industry; it's a function of an aircraft's onboard avionics that periodically broadcasts the aircraft's state vector (3-dimensional position and 3-dimensional velocity), along with other required information. Government mandates and means of compliance for ADS-B Out vary around the globe. For operators intending to operate aircraft in the United States beyond 2019, implementation of ADS-B Out is moving fast.

Regardless of individual viewpoints, the industry has been able to focus well on the subject, with the FAA stern on the January 1, 2020 compliance mandate. To assist with ADS-B implementation, the FAA established the Equip 2020 Team which has held 15 plenary meetings since 2014.

Understanding the Evolution of ADS-B Out

Over the course of time, the Equip 2020 meeting discussions have gone from "what is ADS-B Out?" to "how is it working?" The airline carriers who are going to be very dependent on the reliability of the system are trying to understand the evolution of it.

To that end, there have been very interesting briefings. For example, Ken Alexander, Chief Scientific and Technical Advisor for Satellite Navigation Systems for the FAA, has provided briefings on the GPS satellite constellation and indicates that the system is very robust. The U.S. is committed to maintaining 24 or more operational GPS satellites 95% of the time.

In contrast, the general aviation community who have the largest level of implementation to date, are now discussing the operational results. As you might imagine, the range of different operations from aerobatic to helicopter rescue may have different operational experiences. The FAA must learn and work with the pattern of the various operations to understand when the flight trajectory is normal and when there may be an anomaly. Attendees at Equip 2020 are discussing and understanding the results of installations to date and finding the way forward.

Next Up – ADS-B In

ADS-B In data is transmitted to any aircraft in an ADS-B environment. For the general aviation community, ADS-B In has caused a buzz of excitement. Availability of this data has improved situational awareness with the availability of both traffic and weather. Today, it is easy for general aviation operators to have ADS-B In data.

As you might imagine, the uses are growing fast. For Air Transport operators, ADS-B In is much more challenging. Operational improvements will come with this availability of Traffic Data. However, there is a need for operational specification and definition. The Equip 2020 Team is clarifying the operational benefit and creating a movement in the industry processes that will further define the architecture. Aircraft and equipment will take time to adapt to this new resource.

Equip 2020 Working Groups

There are a number of Equip 2020 Working Groups with rich agendas. The following is a quick overview for each:

Air Carrier Equipage/SAPT Working Group

31% of the forecasted fleet submitted plans in 2016 and 62% of the forecasted fleet have submitted plans to date in 2017.

General Aviation Equipage Working Group

Approximately 70-80 thousand should be equipped by the 2020 mandate based on FAA analysis. A surprising number of operators are not moving as quickly as first expected.

GPS Receiver & Performance-Based Rule Implications Working Group

An early group which was necessary at start up for better understanding of the rule, but was dissolved into others during 2016.

ADS-B In Benefits Working Group

Discussion is centered on developing a Roadmap; "what it is now, what it was before, where we want to go." Air Carriers must decide if there is cause to adapt and if so, there will be implementation guidance and equipage defined. An aim is to build a business case that looks at the difference between ADS-B In and other programs, specifically with regards to interval spacing.

Installation and Approvals Working Group

Main focus is to reduce non-performing equipment (NPE), collecting data and finding ways to mitigate. Notable areas of focus are reduction of call sign mismatch, rotorcraft installation approvals, and actions to further improve equipment compliance.

FAA Rebate Program – Update

In September 2016, the FAA launched a rebate program to incentivize general aviation aircraft owners to equip with the required avionics that comply with ADS-B Out. As of March 21, 2017, there are 6,172 rebate reservations. It appears that the number will not reach to the 20,000 rebate limit by program termination, September 2017.

Upcoming Meeting

The Equip 2020 Team continues to educate and encourage operators on the upcoming January 1, 2020 ADS-B Out mandate. Additional information can be found on the FAA's Equip ADS-B website.

The next Equip 2020 Plenary session is scheduled for September 20, 2017.

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