Flying - - CONTENTS - By Martha King

The ADS-B man­date, and what it means for us

For tens of thou­sands of air­craft own­ers, the dead­line has been loom­ing. ADS-B will be re­quired on Jan­uary 1, 2020, in airspace that now re­quires a transpon­der.

It was clear to John and me that we wanted to meet the re­quire­ment be­fore the dead­line — be­cause with­out ADS-B our old jet would be­come use­less. And the FAA in­sists the dead­line will not change. The fu­ture of the ATC sys­tem will be based on transpon­ders that broad­cast the air­craft’s iden­ti­fi­ca­tion, po­si­tion, al­ti­tude, ve­loc­ity and other in­for­ma­tion every sec­ond or so. It’s called au­to­matic de­pen­dent sur­veil­lance-broad­cast be­cause it’s based on au­to­matic transpon­ders that are de­pen­dent on WAAS GPS for their data, en­abling sur­veil­lance by broad­cast­ing their in­for­ma­tion with­out be­ing in­ter­ro­gated.

Those of us who have been main­tain­ing air­craft for a while know that keep­ing any air­plane le­gal — par­tic­u­larly a jet — is of­ten nei­ther easy nor cheap. In ad­di­tion to all the re­quired in­spec­tions, you must pe­ri­od­i­cally meet gov­ern­ment man­dates, such as the one for ADS-B.

The ADS-B man­date is only the lat­est. In our air­plane-own­er­ship lives we’ve had to meet man­dates re­quir­ing a transpon­der, and then al­ti­tude re­port­ing. Plus, be­cause we have been so fi­nan­cially fool­ish as to fly jets, we’ve had to meet hun­dreds of thou­sands of dol­lars of man­dates re­quir­ing such things as a cock­pit voice recorder, a ter­rain aware­ness and warn­ing sys­tem, and re­duced ver­ti­cal sep­a­ra­tion min­i­mums ca­pa­bil­ity.

These man­dates have of­ten been a step in the march of tech­nol­ogy, bring­ing ben­e­fits be­yond just mak­ing us le­gal. Transpon­ders with mode C have en­abled our air traf­fic con­trol sys­tem to pro­vide far bet­ter ser­vice to all com­ers, and in par­tic­u­lar, RVSM has vir­tu­ally dou­bled the airspace avail­able at 29,000 feet and above.

In the case of ADS-B, the FAA has gone out of its way to build ben­e­fits into the pro­gram to sweeten the deal. If you pay ex­tra to equip for ADS-B In (or have a por­ta­ble ADS-B re­ceiver)


you can re­ceive sub­scrip­tion­free weather and traf­fic data. Plus, de­pend­ing on the sys­tem you buy, you can also have the in­for­ma­tion streamed to an iPad or other tablet.

What prompted us to start work­ing on get­ting the in­stal­la­tion done now was not just a scram­ble to meet the im­pend­ing dead­line. It was mostly that we wanted the things that would come with WAAS GPS sooner rather than later. High­est on the list was the abil­ity to con­duct LPV ap­proaches. We had be­gun to be­lieve that when an air­port has both an LPV ap­proach and an ILS, air­port op­er­a­tors aren’t as quick about re­pair­ing an outof-ser­vice ILS. We were start­ing to see the hand­writ­ing on the wall. If all we had for pre­ci­sion ap­proach ca­pa­bil­ity was an ILS, there would be times when we wouldn’t be able to land at our des­ti­na­tion.

Still, for a while, we weren’t re­ally in a hurry. We hate tak­ing our air­plane down even for re­quired main­te­nance, much less for an op­tional in­stal­la­tion. Plus, we weren’t look­ing for­ward to hav­ing to learn a new avion­ics sys­tem. Also, ADS-B so­lu­tions have been rapidly get­ting sim­pler and less ex­pen­sive, in­clud­ing one so­lu­tion that in­volves re­plac­ing a po­si­tion light with a new red LED po­si­tion light with an en­tire ADS-B so­lu­tion for less than $2,000.

Be­cause we fly a jet that is cer­ti­fied un­der Part 25 as a trans­port-cat­e­gory air­craft and we fly above 18,000 feet, the lower-cost so­lu­tions were not avail­able to us. When we started re­search­ing ADS-B prod­ucts for our air­plane, our first quote was for more than $150,000. It was a re­ally beau­ti­ful dual Garmin GTN 750 in­stal­la­tion. But in ad­di­tion to the cost and a big de­lay get­ting started, what re­ally killed the deal is that the air­plane would be down for at least a month and a half — and prob­a­bly much longer. That would def­i­nitely send us into with­drawal.

We de­cided to sim­plify our lives. As we got closer to do­ing the deal, we re­al­ized it would be a lot more con­ve­nient if we worked with some­body lo­cal. We chose Neal Avi­a­tion at Gille­spie Field in San Diego, the air­port where we have our rou­tine main­te­nance done. In­stead of a dual Garmin 750 in­stal­la­tion, we de­cided that since we al­ready had a backup GPS source, we could cer­tainly get by with only one Garmin unit.

Also, we de­cided not to dis­turb our cur­rent au­dio panel and VHF avion­ics, and go with a Garmin GTN 725, which just has a GPS re­ceiver. The in­stal­la­tion would in­volve re­plac­ing our cur­rent non-WAAS GPS, our mul­ti­func­tion dis­play and our old transpon­ders with the Garmin 725 and two new Garmin transpon­ders.

The GTN 725 comes with the new bells and whis­tles we had be­gun to covet, such as the abil­ity to load routes us­ing air­way num­bers in­stead of en­ter­ing every way­point by hand, and with more hard­ware, the abil­ity to load flight plans di­rectly from our iPads. And with yet an­other re­ceiver, we could still get the Sir­iusXM weather in­for­ma­tion we were used to with our pre­vi­ous sys­tem.

This was go­ing to be a lot less costly than the lux­u­ri­ous dual 750 in­stal­la­tion. The whole thing would

be about $56,000. And the ic­ing on the cake was the folks at Neal Avi­a­tion said they could com­plete the in­stal­la­tion in two weeks. Even though we con­sid­ered the two weeks to be a very chal­leng­ing goal, we had fi­nally found a so­lu­tion we were ready to move on.

The FAA’s mo­ti­va­tion for the man­date is that when a ground-based sys­tem gets changed to a space­based sys­tem, it usu­ally be­comes cheaper to op­er­ate and more ca­pa­ble. In this case, while radar in­stal­la­tions can cost as much as $30 mil­lion, an ADS-B ground sta­tion can cost as lit­tle as $4 mil­lion.

Plus, while a ground-based radar’s sweep rate is three to 15 sec­onds, ADS-B transpon­ders trans­mit their data about once every sec­ond. The re­sult is more ef­fi­cient IFR spac­ing and rout­ing. And there will now be cov­er­age in pre­vi­ously non­radar airspace, such as at ski-area air­ports and other moun­tain­ous ar­eas.

In spite of our orig­i­nal feel­ing that we weren’t in a rush to make the de­ci­sion about ADS-B, we knew it was fi­nally time. Lurk­ing in the back­ground were all the warn­ings about up­com­ing full shops and sched­ul­ing de­lays as the dead­line ap­proaches. More than any­thing else, we did not want to risk hav­ing to ground our air­plane if we didn’t make the dead­line.

Now that John and I have de­cided to bite the bul­let and get the in­stal­la­tion done, we are espe­cially ea­ger to get the air­plane back and start fly­ing it again. We’ve down­loaded the en­tire 400-plus-page man­ual for the GTN 725 and have be­gun our study. We are ex­cit­edly look­ing for­ward to learn­ing how to use all the new things the 725 will do for us.

As tech­nol­ogy ad­vances, avion­ics man­dates have be­come a part of life.

Mak­ing way for the new means tear­ing out the old, and in­cur­ring down­time.

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