ADS-B Deadline Approaching!

For all of you among our audience who are aircraft owners or operators, unless you’ve been living in a cave the past 7 years you know about the rapidly-approaching deadline to equip your aircraft with at least ADS-B Out.

ADS-B is a core element of the FAA’s NextGen modernization program, and the deadline for implementation is December 31, 2019. After that, all aircraft lacking the equipment will be prohibited from most U.S. airspace. There are only a few exceptions to the mandate, which we’ll address in the near future.

And so, with the end of 2017 upon us you have almost exactly two years until the mandate goes into effect, so we thought it would be a good idea to dispel some of the misconceptions that may be causing you to continue putting off the installation of ADS-B.

Misconception #1: There’s still plenty of time.  Don’t be lulled into a false sense of complacency! As the deadline approaches, the availability of slots at repair shops will only decrease. That means you should act now to secure an appointment at your favorite avionics shop. The National Business Aviation Association (NBAA) is telling its members that the closer we get to the deadline, the harder it’s going to be to find an open slot. In addition, some operators are electing to install other equipment or upgrades along with their ADS-B equipment, consuming even more of the available man-hours.

Misconception #2: My aircraft doesn’t have a solution yet.  While OEMs have developed solutions for most of the currently flying fleet of business and general aviation aircraft, there are still some that do not have an OEM-supported solution. That gap has been almost completely filled by outside providers, and many operators are surprised to find out that multiple suitable options exist for their aircraft.

Misconception #3: My aircraft is too old.  Even with the many lower-cost solutions that are available, we do understand how owners of older aircraft are reluctant to equip, particularly airframes with lower total value. In some cases owners actually consider retiring their older aircraft and upgrade to a newer model. That is certainly one option, albeit a pricey one. However, NBAA notes that for many owners and operators, it is not the killer issue many perceive it to be for retiring an older airplane because they are still working aircraft. Quite the opposite: many see ADS-B as just another piece of necessary equipment to keep their aircraft flying.

Misconception #4: My aircraft will be out of service for too long.  Although this is true for some models of business and personal aircraft, there are ways to minimize the downtime. One way to do this is to incorporate initial ADS-B work during an annual inspection or other maintenance item. For example, as an initial step you might upgrade a flight management system to support WAAS, if your current FMS does not have that capability. That simple step, if it needs to be done anyway, can knock off a substantial chunk of time from the actual ADS-B installation.

Misconception #5: Installation costs will continue to come down.  While the price of most ADS-B equipment has moderated somewhat, and less expensive equipment has been developed for general aviation owners, the cost of installation will most likely not decrease. In fact it will increase, says Bob Hazy, manager of Duncan Aviation’s Sacramento, California, facility. “As we get closer to the January 2020 deadline, installation costs will certainly go higher as demand exceeds supply,” he said. One way to lower costs, or spread them out, is to install only the ADS-B “Out”  and add the “In” capability at a later date.

If you have been putting off your ADS-B installation, we urge you to start as soon as possible to have a conversation with your avionics shop, and get your slot on the schedule. Getting this equipment installed well ahead of the deadline is a great move and will save you a lot of stress and headache.


Mike Straka, PhD
HN Contributing Author & Technical Support
Past Chairman, Colorado Aviation Business Association

1.  Business Aviation Insider, National Business Aviation Association magazine. November/December 2017.