There are several systems in an aircraft with different technologies all aimed at ensuring the safe operation of the aircraft from departure through to shut down at the destination. One of the newest and most important technologies becoming standard in the aviation industry is Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast, better known as ADS-B. ADS-B enhances safety by providing real-time precision and shared situational awareness for pilots and air traffic controllers.
ADS-B technology allows an aircraft to determine its position by satellite navigation and broadcasts this information. This allows not only air traffic controller’s radar to track and monitor the aircraft’s altitude and position, but other aircraft with ADS-B equipped receivers can also obtain information from each other. Situational awareness between aircraft is therefore greatly enhanced. ADS-B goes a step further than a transponder by determining movement based on a GPS signal while not necessarily needing a ground-based radar system.
Additionally, ADS-B enables pilots to be able to download crucial weather information while in flight to be viewed on GPS units or a connected iPad. ADS-B will be the foundation of the NextGen ATC system that is planned to come online within the U.S. in 2020. ADS-B is a huge leap forward in flying situational awareness and safety and is a recommend installation regardless of where an operator will be flying.
ADS-B Out and ADS-B In
There are two major parts that makeup ADS-B: ADS-B Out and ADS-B In.
ADS-B Out – This is what the Air Traffic Control (ATC) uses for air traffic management. It provides reports about the position of the aircraft, the altitude, and the velocity, and then transmits the information to nearby aircraft, and ATC.
ADS-B In – This equipment enables an aircraft to interact with other aircraft and ADS-B ground stations via transmissions. With ADS-B In, pilots can get information about aircraft traffic and weather right from the cockpit.
ADS-B Compliance and Regulations
It has been made mandatory by the FAA that ADS-B Out equipment will be required on all aircraft operating in Classes A, B, and C airspace, certain Class E airspace, and other specified airspace by January 1st, 2020. Generally, airspace that currently requires transponders will now require ADS-B Out equipment installed and functioning. The regulations that describe this in detail are 14 CFR § 91.225 and 14 CFR § 91.227.
After January 1, 2020, pilots who are flying aircraft that are not capable of meeting the performance requirements of the ADS-B Out equipment will need to obtain authorization from ATC before flying into ADS-B airspace at least an hour prior to flight. If authorization is not received, operating an unauthorized aircraft in ADS-B airspace will be treated as a violation and the FAA is authorized to assess sanctions for that violation. Sanctions are determined based on FAA Order 2150.3C, FAA Compliance and Enforcement Program, Chapter 9.
This policy of obtaining authorization to fly in ADS-B airspace is not meant to be a permanent solution and should not be seen as an alternative to not equipping the aircraft with the proper equipment as the authorizations will be considered on a case-by-case basis and might not be granted in all instances. The safety of all operators in that airspace is paramount and ATC may not grant authorizations for certain cases depending on airport workload, runway configurations, air traffic flows, and weather conditions. The FAA will be able to keep track of the authorizations and aircraft that request a large number of authorizations will likely be permanently denied access to the airspace.
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