FreeFlight CEO: No Advantage To Delaying ADS-B Installs

 - June 12, 2014, 3:00 PM

FreeFlight Systems CEO Tim Taylor debunked the “myth” that aircraft operators delaying installation of ADS-B avionics would be able to purchase lower-cost units with more features later on. Testifying yesterday afternoon on behalf of GAMA at a U.S. House of Representatives Small Business Committee hearing about NextGen 2020 equipment mandates for general aviation, Taylor noted that the FAA set the ADS-B standards way in advance and that the functionality of an ADS-B unit bought today will be the same as that of an ADS-B unit bought on Jan. 1, 2020–the deadline for operators to equip with ADS-B out.

He also said that–to offer a certified system based on proven, robust technology–the $4,000 ADS-B in/out offered by FreeFlight uses a “2003 vintage” GPS Waas chip that will not change because certification costs of a replacement would be excessive, and that the unit’s price is already at “rock bottom,” meaning it can’t be further lowered.

Taylor also batted down operator complaints that ADS-B offers them no immediate benefits. In fact, after Bob Hepp, owner of Aviation Adventures flight schools who testified at the hearing on behalf of AOPA, complained of ADS-B’s cost and lack of benefits, Taylor rebutted that Hepp’s flight school would see immediate benefits from ADS-B in/out in the form of in-cockpit weather, ability to track the fleet assets via ADS-B and–as more aircraft equip–in-cockpit display of traffic.


Mr. Taylor is completely wrong concerning ADS-B benefits: ADS-B offers the typical GA pilot/owner no benefit what so ever.  In terms of traffic information, has anyone looked at the AOPA'sNall Report?  Mid air collisions are so rare they are bucketed with the 'other' causes of accidents.God help us if the astronomical const/benefit ratio for ADS-B/mid-air prevention spreads to other, more serious GA accident causes.  And you can buy decades of (better quality) XM weather for the installed cost of one of Mr. Taylor's least expensive units. No doubt ADS-B will assist UPS and Fed-Ex in cramming more landings in at their hubs, but of GA we must Stop ADS-B Now!  

Mr Taylors credibility is at stake, who is he really representing?

By his own admission by 2020 the technology will be 17 years old not not likely to change! What technology do we use today that is 17 years old, already it will be obsolete.

ADS-B is overly expensive and little use to a large majority of GA pilots. Does Mr. Taylor really think a flight school needs all of their aircraft equipped with ADS-B to simply teach a student how to fly? Yet he will need it if he is in controlled airspace.

I can get weather and collision avoidance now for a few hundred dollars, why spend $8,000.00 for what I already have?

I am amazed at how many times I see publications announcing that GA pilots don't benefit from ADS-B. And the private pilots' preference in the safety vs ADS-B leans toward the "not having ADS-B" direction. Even AOPA took that stance in various forums (I am no longer a member of AOPA). I have witnessed one close call mid-air, and heard too many stories about mid-air issues in my former flying club, and among other pilot friends. When I looked to purchase an airplane, one of the reasons I favored glass cockpit was that many have traffic awareness built in, in some form. ADSB out at least makes those not able to equip with the full capability visible to pilots like me, and I don't mind bearing the burden of seeing them in a more deterministic way.

I have been a dormant private pilot for a few years now. I flew mostly in the Northern California area, sometimes to Lake Tahoe, or Northern Nevada. One of the reasons I stopped flying, was safety. Among them, the lack of good traffic awareness. Some other pilots and potential pilots also have similar concerns. It is good that there is a 2020 mandate, but it will be even better, if that deadline is moved to next year, when I have a high chance to get back to flying again.

The FAA's decision to limit the usefulness of the traffic function to only those with ADS-B makes the benefit, for the most part illusory. The cost for (what in 2020 will be 17 year old technology) is ridiculous, the display will not play with my g500, and if the rewrite of Part 23 certification rules ever takes place, will render the overpriced, under featured "certified" boxes as limited as ADF for the single engine private owners, the non-certified boxes do more, cost less and change to meet new ideas much faster. Mr. Taylor can keep trying to convince us a Model T is functionally as advanced as it will get, but I prefer something more modern and lest costly. The only real interest Mr. Taylor espouses is his company's bottom line

I’m curious to know what features a non-certified ADS-B IN/OUT unit would offer over a certified one, beyond free in-cockpit weather, in-cockpit display of traffic and more accurate aircraft position reporting to ATC.

Also, since ADS-B OUT broadcasts an aircraft’s position, I cannot see the FAA ever allowing a non-certified ADS-B OUT unit. ADS-B IN doesn’t necessarily need to be a cerified unit, and in fact this is the case today with the iPad, an appropriate app and a companion Wi-Fi or Bluetooth GPS/ADS-B IN puck that can be placed on the top of an instrument panel glareshield. But without all aircraft equipping with ADS-B OUT, the in-cockpit display of traffic is incomplete.

And the chatter above about the low chance of midair collisions completely ignores the much higher number of near-midairs that occur on a daily basis. I’d like to know about these so that I don’t become the next midair statistic, no matter how small anyone thinks that is. My life is worth much more than the cost of a $4,000 box.

One of the things that is being ignored is as long as one doesn't fly in controlled airspace with ATC, one doesn't need ADS-B. So a very large percentage of GA aircraft will never equip. If the cost was reasonable then I believe most would for the benifits it offers. But at $8K, no way.

So what this will do is to push more GA aircraft out of controlled airspace and concentrate them even more in non controlled airspace. How is that safer?

Personally my belief is the FAA, commercial and the biz jet flyers would just a soon we all went away, and this is one way to accomplish it.

If the AOPA and EAA and even members of Congress think the 3rd class medical is keeping pilots on the ground, wait until this fully goes into effect.


Please explain how a $6000 expense (my estimate) for ADS-B out is justified for a $30,000 aircraft. 

My forecast, FWIW, is that 40,000 planes will be parted-out by the close of 2019 and that scores of flight training businesses will cease to exist.

My friends have stated the case above very well. This is one more nail in our coffin. A little more help from smarter people and we will be on the ground. One more thing I am in Turkey on the southern coast and haven't seen ONE privateer plane this will be America in 20 years sorry STATE !

It's curious to see the phrase "rock bottom" referring to the current equipment prices.  The actual hardware involved is not terribly expensive -- an ADS-B transceiver itself is just a microcontroller and a radio interface, and comparable devices built for other industries (MCU plus 33cm band I/F) are in the $100 range.

I think it's more likely that "rock bottom" means that manufacturers are unlikely to want to give up any profit margin and that the current restrictions of system certification mean that they don't have to, because a sufficient barrier to entry exists for any sort of competition.

It doesn't seem as though it really needs to be this way.  Obviously, as is the case with all ADS-B consumers, ATC wants assurance of accurate data from each participant.  But could that be achieved with lower cost via industry standards and design practices adopted from other certification-dominated domains as well as maintenance and installation procedures designed to validate individual users on entry?

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