ADS-B Equipage Deadline Will Not Slip, FAA Vows

 - October 9, 2014, 10:12 AM
Michael Whitaker, FAA deputy administrator, is shown speaking last year in this file photo. (Photo: Air Traffic Control Association)

The Federal Aviation Administration will not relent from requiring operators in the U.S. to equip their aircraft for automatic dependent surveillance-broadcast (ADS-B) by 2020, the agency’s deputy administrator Michael Whitaker told an industry-government committee. The ADS-B equipage mandate is the next major milestone of the agency’s NextGen ATC modernization effort, he said.

“To keep that milestone on track, we need to keep that mandate,” Whitaker told the 13th plenary meeting of the NextGen Advisory Committee (NAC), held on October 8 in Washington, D.C. “It’s one of the key components of NextGen. We are communicating clearly and unequivocally that there is no intention of moving the mandate.”

Whitaker’s remarks echoed those FAA Administrator Michael Huerta made a week earlier at the Air Traffic Control Association conference and follow a critical audit of the ADS-B program by the Department of Transportation inspector general’s office, released in September.

The IG found that the initial benefits of ADS-B Out service will be limited and that equipage is lagging; according to FAA estimates, only 3 percent of major air carriers and 10 percent of general aviation users have thus far equipped. Meanwhile, more advanced ADS-B In avionics, which are not currently mandated, will be difficult to certify and prove with airlines through demonstration projects. “FAA states that future investment decisions will focus more on the advanced capabilities of ADS-B and significantly improve the cost/benefit ratio for the program, but it remains uncertain how and when FAA will implement these capabilities and at what cost,” the IG said.

The FAA has scheduled a “call to action” at its headquarters on October 28 to raise awareness about the ADS-B equipage mandate, determine if avionics suppliers and repair stations are prepared to meet it, and seek direction on the policy guidance required from the agency.

Whitaker, the FAA’s second-ranking executive after Huerta, has overall responsibility for the NextGen program and serves as the designated federal official on the NAC, an RTCA-organized committee that first met in 2010. He announced that his next industry counterpart will be Delta Air Lines CEO Richard Anderson, who will succeed former Alaska Air Group chair Bill Ayer as chairman of the NAC.

At the same meeting, the NAC recommended four priority areas—multiple runway operations, data communications, performance based navigation and airport surface data sharing—and target locations to demonstrate early NextGen efficiency and fuel-saving benefits to airlines.


Yea, they said that about the sleep apnea test. This is typical for the FAA to stonewall and insist upon expensive upgrades and other requirements that are unreasonable or quickly become obselete.

A few years ago, they insisted on the expensive Mode S transponders. Fortunately, AOPA argued for GA and got the requirment delayed. Good thing, because those Mode S units are essentially obselete with ADSB....after just a few short years. The FAA is just about making things difficult and expensive. Looks like it could be time for political representation to get get reasonable solutions.

There are many questionable "facts" in the FAA story. The assertion that 10% of the GA fleet is ADS-B Out equipped is fiction. I doubt it is even close to 1% and many may not be "legal". I have been trying to get the facts from the FAA and equipment vendors on what I need and what it costs, and the story keeps changing, specifically, if I get the right transponder ($4k) and the right GPS sensor, you might have the right gear, but the process to get the installation approved is still as far as I can find undocumented. Inquiries at local FSDO and near by FSDOs yield a plethora of answers, none of which I can verify as correct.
First I was told if you had an existing IFR approvable WAAS receiver that would be a suitable GPS source, but when I asked for a list of approved units not ONE existing panel mounted unit is on it - there was exactly ONE approved ADS-B position source, a $10k stand alone receiver. That's $14k for the gear, plus antennas, cabling and so on. Then comes installation - got a quote for $15k and $20k, NOT including the equipment. What about field approval? My FSDO said "if you are not an approved repair station, forget about it".

So we have a mandate, which the vast majority of aviation users can not comply with. We have a system that is fundamentally flawed, a fact pointed out by every review that has been done by any agency that is outside the FAA, a deployment plan that is not working, and costs that are spiraling out of control. So the FAA response is to stand firm.

I really everyone who thinks it'll just blow away are right. But that seems unlikely. Perhaps the FAA will at least make it possible for owners to comply economically, but based on the experience with GPS, I see no reason to think this will happen. Technically, it is not a difficult thing to build cheap. There isn't that much to it, to be honest. The barrier so far has been the FAA - the cost of approval, with the uncertainty that there will much GA market left, makes it an untenable business case.

And don't be so confident the sleep apnea nonsense has gone away...I think it is only sleeping.