Electronic conspicuity: GA pilots’ views
In September 2017 the CAA conducted a survey asking GA pilots for their views on electronic conspicuity. 1,600 responded, three-quarters of them pilots of singleengine fixed-wing aeroplanes. Glider pilots accounted for twelve per cent, with hot air balloon, microlight and rotary wing fliers making up the rest.
Pilots were asked about their use – or not – of electronic conspicuity devices, and the survey also explored key issues that may affect widespread adoption of this technology, with the objective of helping the Authority to develop a strategy for encouraging the use of devices across the GA fleet. ADS-B is the CAA’S preferred technology standard for achieving airborne situational awareness for pilots and air traffic controllers. ‘Interoperability is the overriding factor in the selection of any system – devices simply have to be compatible to achieve any safety gains,’ it says.
Only one-in-six fixed-wing aeroplane pilots reported that they were already using ADS-B, mostly integrated with a Mode S transponder. A further third flew aircraft that are Mode S equipped but have not been adapted to use ADS-B. Almost 90% of glider pilots who responded use FLARM – the anti-collision system designed specifically for gliders.
‘Asked if they believed that full electronic conspicuity across the GA fleet would benefit safety, nearly nine-tenths of all those who responded thought it would indeed improve flight safety as a whole,’ reports the CAA. ‘Looking at the specific advantages of conspicuity, 83% of aeroplane pilots identified collision avoidance and improved cockpit/ ground-based situational awareness as the principal safety benefits.’
The survey also looked at factors that would encourage pilots to use a low-powered ADS-B device. Purchase cost came out top for two-thirds of aeroplane pilots, while compatibility with Mode S was important to six out of ten. For more-than-half of respondents, the ability to receive flight information or weather data via ADS-B was a significant attraction.
‘When it comes to cost, nine out of ten pilots are willing to spend more than £100 on new ADS-B kit,”’ says the CAA. ‘Forty per cent of respondents said they were prepared to pay between £100-£250 for a device, while a further fifty per cent were willing to invest £250-£500. The survey results indicate that the GA community recognises the need for the expansion of electronic conspicuity use within the UK. The CAA believes that the take-up of devices will improve overall safety levels, as well as increasing airspace access for GA pilots. Enhanced equipage may also help the future challenges such as access to airspace and incorporating the enhanced future use of drones.’
While the survey has helped to affirm the CAA’S ambitions for wide scale deployment of ADS-B across the GA fleet, it says that ‘significant work still needs to be done with the GA community to ensure the necessary technological and system standards are achieved in partnership.’