FAA, Industry Ready for ADS-B

 - August 1, 2019, 12:21 PM

As the U.S. aircraft fleet races to complete installations in advance of the 2020 deadline for ADS-B Out equipage, the FAA has been busy putting the final touches on a series of policies to facilitate the transition of airspace control via ADS-B. But still ahead is one key policy for business aviation: protecting the privacy of operators.

In the past month, the FAA has issued a policy for handling temporary degradation of GPS performance, an interim final rule on requirements involving sensitive missions, and a notice on preflight flight responsibilities. They followed an April release of a policy for unequipped aircraft.

The FAA, however, still must release a policy designed to protect privacy by enabling operators to separate an aircraft’s ICAO address from registration number. In tandem with this policy, the FAA must issue a procurement for a service provider to assign temporary call signs. “We’ve done some tests. It works,” said Jens Hennig, vice president of operations for the General Aviation Manufacturers Association, who gave an update on ADS-B implementation this week on the Equip 2020 working group activities. But that policy release has been pushed out beyond the goal of September 30 in part because of the government shutdown earlier this year, Hennig said.

Also still ahead is the facilitation of waivers. This involves the development of a web-based tool (“Adapt") for requesting non-routine authorizations. That is anticipated to be in place by the end of the year.

But Hennig, who emphasized that “2020 is not the end, but the beginning of the ADS-B program,” said much remains ahead. This includes the de-commissioning of secondary surveillance radar. He believes that the FAA is making progress on a roadmap for that. It also includes the continuation of equipage, Hennig said, adding, “I still see us equipping into 2020 and maybe even 2021 as some of those operators realize the impact of not equipping.”

The number of installations continues to accelerate, with about 4,000 aircraft across the fleet now equipping monthly. Lagging behind still are piston aircraft, but the majority of those that regularly fly in ADS-B airspace are equipped. The FAA researched the number of aircraft that seldom fly in such airspace and has estimated that to be in the 20,000-25,000 range. Helicopters also still have a much lower equipage rate (at 47 percent of the total fleet at the end of June, not taking into account idle helicopters or those that don’t fly in ADS-B airspace).

Looking ahead, the industry is eying benefits of ADS-In and space-based ADS-B.