Check Out the ADS-B Options at Oshkosh

Every avionics company you have heard of, and some you may have not, is showing new ADS-B equipment here at Oshkosh.

ADS-B is the technology that broadcasts your identify, position, altitude and velocity automatically to all other airplanes and a network of FAA ground stations. ADS-B will replace air traffic control radar for aircraft surveillance under the coming NextGen airspace system. This is called the “out” component of ADS-B.

ADS-B has a second element called “in” because very useful information is automatically transmitted subscription free to equipped airplanes.

The issue for airplane owners is that we will all be required to install certified ADS-B “out” equipment by the end of 2020 to be authorized to fly in the airspace that now requires a Mode C transponder.

To complicate matters further, ADS-B “out” signals can be sent on either of two different frequencies. One “out” signal is on the 1090 MHz transponder frequency. All airplanes flying above 18,000 feet must use this channel. The other signal is called UAT for universal access transceiver.

Nearby traffic, weather radar, text weather, locations of TFRs, and all sorts of other very important real time information will come “in” only over UAT. So you want UAT “in.” But you can have UAT “in” but 1090 MHZ “out.” Got that?

And you will still need to have your Mode C transponder installed, turned on and recertified every other year after 2020 just as we do now. Got that, too?

So, to comply with the new rules you need something to transmit the “out” signal on one of the two channels, plus an approved position source to know where you are. The approved source is a WAAS enabled GPS navigator.

If you have a WAAS GPS already, you probably have an approved position source. If you have a transponder with ES (extended squitter) it can send the ADS-B “out” signal on 1090 MHz. But you need wires and software to connect the two boxes. Got that? And all brands may not play with the other.

I can’t calculate all of the possible combinations of ways to comply with the ADS-B rules, but it must be in the dozens, if not the hundreds. ADS-B “in” is not a requirement, but it’s the only useful part so you sure don’t want to leave it out. So you want some sort of UAT receiver, but do you want a UAT “out” transmitter? Maybe.

There is also the question of how to display all of that really nice and useful data coming up for free on the UAT “in” channel. If you have some sort of multifunction display in your panel already, that may work. But maybe not. It depends on the age of your display, who made it, and how much memory or operating capacity it has.

A better way to see the data coming “in” may be on a tablet such as an iPad. The tablet can connect wirelessly to the UAT “in” receiver if you buy the right equipment.

Then there are the portable UAT “in” receivers that cost from around $500 to $800 that can show you the weather and other information on a tablet without installing anything. But they don’t meet the “out” requirement of 2020. Got that?

ADS-B may be one of the most confusing FAA equipment requirements ever because there are so many options, and so many hardware solutions.

If there is any good news about ADS-B it is that the avionics companies are now paying close attention and developing a whole range of solutions. And most importantly a range of prices. Every ADS-B maker that I know of is here at Oshkosh and you can stop by and chat with them.

This is your chance to learn what you will need to meet the rule if you fly in regulated airspace, and learn about the almost endless options you have. Even if you put off the buying decision for another year or two, take advantage of the ADS-B equipment makers here to learn as much as you can. There is no simple solution because we are offered so many choices.

I remember hearing that having endless options is really a curse. For many airplane owners that curse is spelled ADS-B.

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12 Responses to Check Out the ADS-B Options at Oshkosh

  1. Sarah A says:

    From my understanding the GPS source will have to be one certified to a specific regulation and most of the non-IFR GPS systems out there for the EAB/LSA market do not meet that requirement. The ones I have looked at gave me sticker shock so I sure hope we see some more affordable options for the EAB/LSA aircraft before the mandate hits in 2020. Apparently the non certified GPS receivers are OK before the deadline hits so why they are not acceptable afterwards is a mystry to me.

  2. JR A&P/IA, CFI says:

    To summarize, I fly 3 very different airplanes. I own a C172 with a non-WAAS approach approved GPS. I fly a Cirrus SR-22 that I’ve had converted to ADS-B out and a Beech King Air C90 that I’ve had converted to ADS-B “OUT”. The Cirrus and the King Air belong to companies I fly for. I use an iPAD running ForeFlight software and a Strattus 2 ADS-B receiver. The ForeFlight and Strattus provide ADS-B “IN”.

    Last week I spent about 15 hours in the air. The weather and associated information delivered over ADS-B “IN” makes it all worth it. The traffic information is a real bonus as well.

    Since decisions I make with other peoples money is a little different than decisions I make with my own money, I will be waiting for a few years to see what products become available to provide ADS-B “OUT”!

  3. Bill Tomlinson says:

    Trust a government – any government, of any stripe, in any country – to take something intrinsically cheap and simple and make it complicated and expensive.

  4. Carl-Erik Olsen says:

    Many aircraft owners have for years maintained Mode C Transponders as required to fly into airspace close to the busiest Class B airports. But from 2020 we will be banned from flying into Class B, Class C, and in the airspace from the surface up to 10,000 ft MSL within 30 miles of Class B airports, unless we invest thousands of dollars for no gain.
    The mandate will ground thousands of GA aircrafts located in small airports laying within the 30 miles Mode C radius of Class B airports. For me it will mean no more participation in fly-in events at small airports near Los Angeles, which are homes to a wealth of vintage aircrafts, and no more San Francisco tours around SFO Class B airspace and see the Golden Gate form the air. This is just in California. There are many other GA airports across the US within a 30 miles Mode C radius, which frequently arrange fly-ins. From 2020 these events will be drastically reduced. Our freedom to fly will be cut back and GA in general will suffer greatly.

    Too many owners like me are baby boomers from the late 1940′s, who are now retired and cannot afford any new installation of digital ES transponder in excess of $5000, or even worse, the additional cost of $7000-9000 WAAS equipped GPS radios. I am sure that many fellow aviators are in the same unbearable situation. Too many wonderful aircraft and their proud owners will be unable to continue being flying ambassadors for GA, AOPA and EAA.

    Safety is important and ADS-B is the right step for commercial aviation. But for small GA recreational aircraft, it is very expensive and will not make any measurable reduction of typical accident statistics. And the ADS-B equipment is not replacing the old transponders. We will still have to keep and maintain the existing transponders for back up for an unknown numbers of years.

    I think FAA should accept that small VFR aircraft which are already equipped with required Mode C transponders may fly with-in the 30 miles radius from typical Class B airports, but stay out of busy Class B space which we do not want to enter anyway. When the radar equipment is finally retired sometime after 2020 there might be cheaper ADS-B solutions or similar portable equipment on the market that FAA can accept.

  5. Rich P. says:

    I agree with Sarah. I have a 796 Garmin GPS that gives precise location.
    So it’s not certified. It works just as well as any certified unit. Is it not going to be precise after 2020?
    With a software upgrade, it can be made to speak to my Garmin 330 mode S, ES transponder to transmit ADS-B “OUT.”

    The FAA needs to consider this before it makes me and others, so equipped, spend up to $5,000.

    I have the above mentioned GPS, transponder and a Garmin GDL-39 for ADS-B “IN.”
    There isn’t a sane reason, other than selling more products, to need a certified GPS when some of the portables are just a good.

    • Sarah A says:

      Thanks for the seconding Rich.

      Just for reference, a FreeFlight 1201 GPS/WAAS receiver (certified to TSO-C145A) will cost you $2,895 according to the Gulf Coast Avionics web site and you still need the Mode S transponder (about another $3000) and that gives you the minimum to meet the FAA 2020 mandate for ADS-B Out. Keep in mind that the GPS receiver is just a remote mount box that provides position data for other systems, no fancy panel mount system with moving map and lots of other usuful features. Most GA pilots just do not have that $6K (plus installation) laying around to spend on a system that does not provide them any benifit. Having ADS-B In is great for cross country flying and there are lots of excellent low cost systems that will get you going. The FAA needs to rethink why TSO-C145A is so vital to ADS-B Out that it justifies doubling (or more) the cost for GA aircraft to equip. For the EAB/LSA fleet this is going to be a big cost and could end up grounding aircraft because of the added cost.

      Maybe I am wrong about this and would love to hear if that is so. However this is something I have been looking into as I approach the decision point on avionics for my EAB project and I for one do not like the cost just to get a GPS receiver with the majiccal letters TSO attached. I can think of plenty of better ways to spend that $3K which will increase the usability of the aircraft or maybe just buy AvGas to fly a bunch of hours.

  6. Rich says:

    Ok, so who is making a single integrated unit that handles all “out” requirements and existing transponder within mode c veil…and what’s it cost? It would be nice to tap off the box for nav inputs. I am NOT interested in paying for panel solution “in”….and why would I still need an elt? $5-10k is quite a lot of training gas/ hours

  7. Rich says:

    …and that integrated unit needs to include waas gps for those of us who still know how to look outside to navigate vfr! :)

    • Rich P says:

      When I equipped my LSA with the Garmin Mode S/ES, Garmin 796, and GDL-39, the dealer and I thought this would satisfy both the “IN and OUT” requirement for 2020. We were evidently wrong as this will only give me “IN.”
      I blame Garmin for this, as their ad stated that the 330 ES/S transponder was ADS/B compatible. The ad and brochure didn’t state that it needed a certified GPS to comply with the “OUT” mandate.

      Two years ago when I bought the aircraft and equipment, ADS-B was in the early stages. So many different stories and variants that it would make your head spin.

      Garmin representatives have told me that the portables will never be allowed for use as a GPS source for ADS-B “OUT.” So now, unless the FAA recognizes some of the portable and capable GPS units, A separate certified unit will need to be installed.

      The FreeFlight 1201 for just under 3K will only get you ADS-B “IN.” For IN/OUT you’ll need to buy their other unit with the certified GPS for 5K.

      • Sarah A says:

        It seems that just about all the makers of Mode S transponders like to say that their product is the soiltion for ADS-B Out requirement but the small print brings up the requirement for a TSO’d position source at extra cost. The FreeFlight 1201 provides that position source to the Mode S Transponder via serial bus. They do make the Ranger-TX integrated system that combines TSO’d WAAS GPS and Transponder (Mode S plus old Mode 3A+C) so that is an example of an integrated solution for ADS-B Out. That will cost you $4,575 (plus installation) according to Gulf Coast Avionics. There are probably other such solutions out there, this is just the one I am familier with and use as an example for minimum cost of compliance. As the article states the avionics industry is taking the ADS-B mandate seriously now as 2020 approaches so the selection hardware is rapidly expanding, We still have the issue that IN provides us with good features and is inexpensive (relatively so) while OUT is just the opposite but that is the half that is mandated.

        • Rich says:

          Thanks for highlighting an existing solution. Be nice if more attention from our various associations yielded more/cheaper minimum cost compliance options that also allowed us to do away with legacy equipment.

  8. Bill Tomlinson says:

    “And you will still need to have your Mode C transponder installed, turned on and recertified every other year after 2020 just as we do now.” ====== If you have ADS-B why do you need a transponder as well?

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