ADS-B Solutions Increasingly Available for Business Aircraft

 - February 3, 2014, 3:35 AM

Pilots all over the world are probably sick of hearing that “ADS-B is coming,” but the fact is that some countries already require ADS-B capability, and other countries’ deadlines are rapidly approaching. ADS-B equipage needs to remain prominent in pilots’ consciousness because avionics shops need time to certify ADS-B out installations and time to complete the installations. A rough estimate by Cessna’s product support organization, just for the U.S. fleet, calculates that from now until the U.S. mandate begins on Jan. 1, 2020, about 20,000 ADS-B installations will need to be done per year, which equates to 58 per day or 2.4 per hour. This assumes that 90 percent of the general aviation fleet will become compliant, although that isn’t a given, because some small airplanes could avoid ADS-B airspace and others–such as geriatric business jets–will simply be scrapped.

ADS-B out is the new surveillance system that will supplement and in some cases replace ground-based radar systems. The acronym stands for Automatic Dependent Surveillance, and the out refers to transmission of position and aircraft information from the aircraft to other aircraft and ground receivers. By hooking the ADS-B transponder to a highly accurate GPS receiver, controllers will be able to view on their scopes aircraft that they never could see before, because it is far less costly to install an ADS-B ground station than to provide radar coverage, especially in remote and mountainous areas. ADS-B information is also fresher because it is updated at least once per second, compared with the 12-second sweep of a radar antenna. The signals also provide–both through retransmission from the ground stations and via air-to-air transmission and reception–traffic information to aircraft equipped for ADS-B in. As yet, there is no regulatory mandate for ADS-B in equipage, but the benefits offered may provide an incentive.

The costs of ADS-B out are going to be a significant issue for some aircraft owners and operators. For a small general aviation aircraft, costs are as low as a few thousand dollars, but for business jets the costs could range from as little as tens of thousands to hundreds of thousands of dollars. It all depends on the current equipment installed and the certification status and availability of ADS-B upgrades. New jets rolling off assembly lines are mostly compliant already, and this may be yet further incentive to plan on replacing an older aircraft with a new one as the mandate deadline nears.

Loans should be available to help pay for ADS-B out and in equipment, thanks to Section 221 of the FAA Reauthorization Act of 2012. The NextGen GA Fund has been established to provide loan guarantees to help equip general aviation aircraft for ADS-B. The Aircraft Electronics Association (AEA) has partnered with the NextGen GA Fund to help operators access these loans. The AEA will launch a web portal that will help member repair stations refer customers to the NextGen GA Fund for financing of their ADS-B installations. The fund is managed by Nexa General Partnership, and more information is available at


Some countries’ ADS-B out mandates went into effect last December, including airspace in Australia and certain airspace in Singapore, Hong Kong and Vietnam, but these are generally for altitudes above 29,000 feet and require equipment that meets RTCA DO-260A standards. Operators should note that the U.S. and European mandates will require meeting DO-260B standards, so planning to purchase equipment to meet DO-260A at this point may be counterproductive.

Here is a brief summary of the ADS-B out mandates:

• December 2013: Australia, Indonesia, Singapore, Hong Kong, Vietnam (above 29,000 feet; some countries only certain airways are affect). DO-260A.

• January 2015: Europe, new production aircraft. DO-260B.

• December 2017: Europe, out-of-production aircraft. DO-260B.

• January 2020: U.S., all aircraft flying in airspace where transponders are required. DO-260B.

Equipment Required

The equipment needed for ADS-B out is basically a special transponder, a means of providing accurate position data from GPS, annunciators and an interface mechanism such as a modern radio tuning unit.

The transponder needs to be DO-260B-compliant. It works on the same 1090-MHz frequency as mode-S transponders, but using what is called an “extended squitter” or the ability to send an extra 56 bits of information compared with an ordinary transponder, and thus the description of an ADS-B transponder as a “1090ES” unit. The extra bits allow the transmission of all the added information in the ADS-B signal, including identification, position, altitude and velocity.

The GPS needs to be compliant with Technical Standard Order (TSO) C146c (basically a Waas-capable GPS or FMS, such as any Universal Avionics “w” FMS). Not all GPS receivers are compliant, so operators need to consider that when looking at ADS-B installations.

Annunciators are required to help pilots see when ADS-B capabilities or the transponder fails.

A radio tuning unit or other controls must allow the pilot to turn off the ADS-B extended-squitter function.

The installation of the ADS-B components must be done under a supplemental type certificate and will not be permitted using a field approval. The FAA is going to permit “approved model list” STCs, which should ease the certification burden.

Outside the U.S., many countries require operators to obtain a Letter of Authorization to fly with ADS-B out.

Some Solutions

Cessna has published a detailed video on the basics of ADS-B and the upgrades available for the various Citation models.

New Cessna jets equipped with Garmin G3000 and G5000 avionics (M2, Sovereign+, new Citation X) already meet the DO-260B ADS-B level.

The Mustang and other aircraft with G1000 avionics will meet ADS-B requirements when the Phase 14 software upgrade is available from Garmin.

The CJ2+, CJ3 and CJ4 meet DO-260A and will need to be upgraded for DO-260B. The Rockwell Collins TDR-94D transponder with enhanced surveillance will be needed for aircraft equipped with Rockwell Collins integrated flight decks, and deliveries of these transponders will begin later this year. The TDR-94 has been DO-260A-compliant for a while, for operators who needed ADS-B in Australia and Asia to keep flying.

Cessna has solutions for a variety of out-of-production Citations. The Citation X with Honeywell Primus 2000 avionics will have an ADS-B out solution in the second quarter. The upgrade for the original Sovereign with Primus Epic will be available next year.

The Excel, XLS, Encore and Ultra with Primus II will have an upgrade available next year.

The Bravo, CJ1 and CJ2 are on Cessna’s priority list but, according to the video, the solution for those has not yet been chosen. “Some additional models may follow,” the video explained, “but it might not be practical for Cessna to develop solutions for every Citation model that we have out there. There might be other third-party solutions that people can look at in those cases, but we’re certainly going to try to cover as many as we possibly can. We understand the importance of this and so we want to try to develop something for everyone, to the maximum extent possible.”

Dassault Falcons have ADS-B solutions available as they are equipped with Honeywell avionics. Older Falcon 10s and 20s will be upgradeable, using Honeywell’s MST-100B ADS-B transponder. Falcons with EASy cockpits already have an ADS-B solution available or are already so equipped.

Operators of the Bombardier Learjet 31, 35, 55 and 60 and Challenger 600 and 601 will have to seek STC solutions from Bombardier service centers or third-party providers, although these aircraft can upgrade to the Honeywell MST-100B transponder. The Learjet 40/45 will have a Bombardier ADS-B service bulletin and kit later this year, while the new 70/75 are already DO260B-compliant. The Challenger 604/605 and 300 were issued a DO260A service bulletin in 2010 and will have DO260B available later this year. A DO260B service bulletin was issued in July 2013 for the Global 5000, Global Express and XRS. New Globals come with DO260A capability and will have DO260B upgrades available later this year.

Embraer’s Lineage 1000 already has an ADS-B upgrade, while solutions will be available for the Legacy 600 and 650, according to Honeywell. Phenoms with Garmin avionics will be upgradeable via the Garmin solution.

Gulfstream has had DO-260A solutions in place for its in-production jets, as production standard on the G280 through G650. The G150 will have a DO-260B solution next year. Availability of DO-260B solutions will be in January 2015, as production standard for the G450, G550 and G650. For in-service G450s and G550s, a DO-260B upgrade is already available, and the in-service G650 upgrade will be available in the second half.

For the GII/GIII and G100, no ADS-B program has been announced by Gulfstream. The GIV, GIV-SP, G400 and GV currently have an upgrade available for DO-260A. The DO-260B upgrade should be available in 2015. The G200 should have a DO-260B solution in 2015.

Obviously there are many more aircraft that will need ADS-B solutions, and avionics manufacturers are well along in developing these upgrades, both on their own and in partnership with airframe manufacturers.

Honeywell has published a chart, “Business Aviation Mandates…Made Easy,” and this includes detailed information not only about ADS-B upgrades for all of the business aircraft equipped with Honeywell avionics but also information on CPDLC, Link 2000+, Fans-1/A and Tcas 7.1. The chart lists each aircraft type, the Honeywell equipment in that aircraft, the availability (or not) of the upgrades and whether they are certified or in development. Operators can obtain the chart from Honeywell product support.

An older jet example is the Bombardier Challenger 600/601. This jet will need Honeywell’s new MST 100B ADS-B transponder, currently under development and slated to be available in July next year. The MST 100B is plug-and-play compatible with the Bendix/King MST 67 transponder, using the same rack and antenna. Some wiring changes may need to be done to communicate with whatever GPS receiver is installed, according to Scott Miller, Honeywell product line director for Tcas, transponders and ELTs. “Because the MST 67 was certified on so many platforms,” he said, “it will be up to the installer to look at the GPS and other requirements. The legacy aircraft are going to have the biggest challenge in meeting the mandate. It’s not just a simple upgrade; you may need to change the RMU [radio management unit], GPS, antennas and FMS. Several activities need to be looked at. We’re working with the [avionics shops] to make sure the installations are in sync.”

For the most part, Honeywell has ADS-B solutions available, many in partnership with airframers, for aircraft equipped with Primus Epic and Primus II cockpits. New Pilatus PC-12s and Viking 400s with Primus Apex should have solutions soon because Honeywell recently received TSO approval for those airplanes’ transponders.

Rockwell Collins integrated flight decks will need the latest version of the TDR-94D transponder to meet the DO-260B ADS-B mandate, and deliveries of these begin this year. The actual upgrade will vary, depending on the equipment in the airplane (Pro Line 4 or 21 or some early Fusion cockpits that were delivered with DO-260A). For example, older Pro Line 4 CTL-92 control units will need replacing with a modern radio tuning unit. If the GPS has been upgraded to Waas, then this will be fine for DO-260B compliance.

“We’ve been forecasting the demand ahead of the mandate for many years and we planned to satisfy that demand with adequate levels of production,” said Adam Evanschwartz, Rockwell Collins director of Business & Regional Systems marketing. Rockwell Collins has been working with avionics shops, helping them understand how each platform can be upgraded.

Operator Advice

Not all ADS-B solutions will come from the company that built the aircraft, so operators need to spend some time consulting with avionics shops. Honeywell’s Miller advises operators to “visit your local installer to work out a plan. What you don’t want is a person thinking, ‘I can buy a small panel-mount transponder’ then find out the bill’s going to be much higher. Installers are very creative in how they can get you compliant and have worked out various scenarios to upgrade aircraft. The challenge is that if you have Tcas II, it’s difficult to get away from an integrated system. With Tcas I, it’s more federated, and a panel-mount replacement transponder may be good enough with [the right] GPS.”

Rockwell Collins’s Evanschwartz said, “Talk to avionics dealers sooner rather than later, even if not immediately. Make a plan for a convenient time and align the budget. Doing the mandate early prepares the aircraft for the future, but it’s also going to show well on the residual value if you’re going to need to market the airplane.”

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There are really 2 options for GA, the DO-260B which is probably pointed more toward turbine aircraft, and the DO-282B for piston aircraft. DO-260B is the requirement for the 1090MHz with extended squitter (ES) transponders. The DO-282B is the requirement for Universal Access Transeiver (UAT). 

The FAA separated the two systems for a couple reasons. The 978MHz devices can handle more data (has more bandwidth), so more aircraft in a concentrated area will work without overloading ground stations or other aircraft. The 1090 Mode S transponders must be used on aircraft flying in Class A airspace.

The UAT's are even more useful, since the FAA will broadcast extra information. The two extra messages that the FAA is broadcasting are the TIS/B and FIS/B. The 1090-ES system will get TIS/B, but not FIS/B.

Can you get rid of your transponder once you have ADS/B? No, the Mode/C component will still be needed for RADAR service and TCAS for non-ADS/B equipped aircraft.

Older GPS receivers (TSO-C129 standard) are going to be iffy when used for ADS/B qualfications. Many aircraft build recently will come off the assembly line with a C129 GPS receiver. Either an upgrade to the GPS receiver will be needed, or a separate GPS receiver will need to be added to aircraft along with the UAT or transponder. 

There are many issues to consider when trying to meet the deadline.


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