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Don’t Wait: Make a Plan to Equip Now!

Sep 11, 2017
By: Pete Bunce, President and CEO, General Aviation Manufacturers Association

Thank you to Pete Bunce, President and CEO of the General Aviation Manufacturers Association (GAMA) for taking the time to discuss the upcoming Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast (ADS-B) Out mandate with us. As you read Pete's post below, you'll learn more about the status of the mandate, equipage, including what to consider when planning to equip, and the Federal Aviation Administration's (FAA) current rebate that is set to expire in a few days.

Equipping for ADS-B Out

The ADS-B Out mandate in the United States is a mere two years and four months away. While some have questioned whether the mandate will change, the FAA has been clear. In July this year, FAA Administrator Michael Huerta, spoke at AirVenture in Oshkosh and again reinforced that the agency stands firm behind the mandate:

Every year that I come to Oshkosh, I have to talk about ADS-B. And every year, the story is pretty much the same. All aircraft flying in controlled airspace are going to need to be equipped with this technology by January 1, 2020. That deadline hasn't – and won't – change… It's time to call your repair shop, make installation plans, and pick out your equipment.

The FAA estimates between 100,000 and 160,000 general aviation aircraft will have to comply with the ADS-B mandate based on where they conduct operations today. The industry is making some progress with regards to equipage, and according to the FAA we will reach the 40,000 aircraft equipped milestone in the next couple of months.

There are also signs that operators conducting significant operations in the National Airspace System (NAS) have taken steps to get equipped early. The FAA presented data at an industry forum in August, showing that over 25 percent of aircraft operations conducted in June 2017 in Class E airspace -- which is not subject to the mandate unless flying above 10,000 feet -- were already ADS-B compliant. This is good news.

But progress doesn't mean there won't be challenges. For example, equipping the business jet fleet is an area of specific concern, because unlike other segments of general aviation, business jet operators necessitate operation in ADS-B mandated airspace on January 1, 2020. Business jet upgrades are also typically more involved than small airplane upgrades.

If you are a business jet operator who has not yet planned how to upgrade your aircraft by the end of calendar year 2019, you are behind. It is essential you make arrangements soon. Repair station schedules are starting to fill up, but not just with ADS-B work. They are filling up with work for other upgrades focused on cabin connectivity and data communications.

Operators should consider several decisions when making a plan to equip:

  1. Will you own the aircraft in 2020? Whether the answer to that question is yes or no, you should consider the impact of the mandate. All industry experts agree that non-ADS-B compliant aircraft will not retain their residual value in the same manner as mandate-compliant aircraft.
  2. Are you primarily operating in the United States, or in other regions where there may be other equipage mandates? If your operational model falls into the latter category, you may want to look at addressing data communications, navigational requirements or a cabin connectivity upgrade when you schedule your aircraft upgrade for ADS-B compliance to make the best use of the aircraft downtime.

As we move forward, knowing the FAA compliance date will not change, it is essential that operators make a plan for equipage. Since the FAA announced the mandate back in 2010, general aviation manufacturers have worked hard to design, develop, certify and make available ADS-B products that enhance safety for operators at a reasonable cost. Some solutions for light general aviation aircraft are available for a range from $1,200 to $4,000, each providing significant safety benefits when presented on an ADS-B IN capable display. The FAA is also offering a $500 rebate to eligible aircraft, which is free money on the table until September 18. Don't wait to take appropriate time and action. Make a plan to equip your aircraft today, and enjoy a safer, better flying experience.

More About Pete Bunce

Pete Bunce has been President and CEO of the General Aviation Manufacturers Association (GAMA) since April 2005. He and the GAMA staff travel worldwide engaging regulators, policymakers, and elected officials to promote general aviation and advance the interests of GAMA's global membership of more than 100 airframe, avionics, engine, and component manufacturers, as well as the world's leading business aviation maintenance, repair, and overhaul companies. Pete retired from the U.S. Air Force in March 2005, after having served a 26-year career with his last assignment as the Director of the Air Force Congressional Budget and Appropriations Liaison. He is an active pilot with more than 7,000 hours in military fighter and training aircraft as well as civil piston, turboprop, and business jet aircraft. He holds an FAA airline transport certificate and seaplane rating, and serves on the board of directors of the Recreational Aviation Foundation, Veterans Airlift Command, the U.S. Air Force Academy Falcon Foundation, America's Warrior Partnership, and the Air Care Alliance.

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