Bizjets, Helos Lag in ADS-B Installs as Capacity Shrinks

 - February 22, 2018, 12:12 PM

More than 50,000 of the anticipated 100,000 aircraft in the U.S. that will need to comply with the 2020 ADS-B equipage mandate have now installed systems, but shop availability has already begun to tighten for the remaining aircraft, manufacturer executives agreed. Of those equipping in the business and general aviation segment, smaller aircraft—pistons and turboprops—are leading the way with nearly half already equipped, while business jets are still only in the 20 percent range, Wipaire president Chuck Wiplinger reported during the General Aviation Manufacturers Association’s State of the Industry event yesterday. The rotorcraft segment, meanwhile, is lagging even further behind, with only 10 to 15 percent equipped.

Wiplinger, whose company provides ADS-B compliance services along with its other products and installation work, noted that the first trickle of installs in his shop began in 2014, but it took until 2016 before he saw a notable jump, which he estimated was triple that of 2015. In 2017, the install work picked up by another two-thirds, but has now flattened going into this year. Constraints on the availability of skilled workers, not demand, are the reason for this plateau, he said.

A certain amount of capacity remains, added Phil Straub, managing director of aviation and vice president of Garmin, but warned, “We are starting to see lead times get up to six months.”

As for rotorcraft, the manufacturing executives could not explain why that segment lagged. GAMA president and CEO Pete Bunce noted that most helicopters do not fly at the higher altitudes in controlled airspace, but many—including those involving police, newsgathering, and EMS operations—do fly in controlled airspace around metropolitan areas and will need to comply. He added that the phenomenon is particularly interesting since rotorcraft were among the first to see the benefits of ADS-B with Gulf of Mexico offshore operators the earliest adopters.

Bunce also expressed concern that aircraft will be grounded when the Jan. 1, 2020 U.S. deadline occurs.