While much of the discussion around ADS-B Out mandates has focused on the massive fleet of U.S.-registered aircraft that much comply by midnight December 31, 2019, another big date is looming for European aircraft operators: June 7, 2020.
After this date, aircraft flying IFR or general air traffic in Europe with a maximum certified takeoff weight of more than 5,700 kg (12,566 pounds) or a maximum cruising true airspeed of more than 250 knots must meet the ADS-B Out equipage requirement. The U.S. mandate applies to all aircraft that fly in ADS-B airspace, which is generally where transponders are currently required.
Once equipped according to the latest U.S. and European ADS-B Out standards—basically a GPS sensor with at least WAAS accuracy coupled to a 1090 Extended Squitter transponder—these aircraft will be able to fly in ADS-B airspace anywhere in the world.
One major difference between the U.S. and Europe is that the U.S. is the only country offering a network of ground-based ADS-B stations that can also broadcast free weather and traffic information to aircraft carrying ADS-B In receivers using the 978UAT frequency. No other countries are offering such services, although Garmin recently did a test in Friedrichshafen, Germany, where local aircraft could tap into a special ground station to receive weather information.
According to Eurocontrol, about 8,000 aircraft in Europe will be affected by the European ADS-B mandate and as of mid-May, one-third of that fleet is equipped (this includes business aircraft and airliners).
Flight-tracking provider FlightAware has been monitoring rates of ADS-B equipage, and in Europe its numbers show nearly 1,000 turbine-powered business aircraft already compliant.
Major avionics manufacturers have prepared for the demand for equipment to meet the mandates. Honeywell, for example, has solutions for most business jets that carry its avionics equipment, as does Collins Aerospace. Universal Avionics has updated its flight management systems to meet the latest NextGen and Single European Sky ATM Research (SESAR) standards, and its products provide the necessary GPS accuracy for ADS-B installations. The Thales/L3 joint venture ACSS has been manufacturing ADS-B-qualified transponder for many years and filling the ADS-B needs of business jets and airliners equipped with ACSS products. Most modern Garmin flight decks are ADS-B-compliant from the factory, but the company also offers a number of solutions for Garmin ADS-B upgrades.
The problem now that deadlines are nearing is how to get the remaining aircraft equipped in time. According to Honeywell, “many operators are behind the curve when it comes to making installation plans. Our advice is that operators take action now to avoid the last-minute scramble that will almost certainly impact installation cost, wait time, and potentially restrict airspace.”