Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast (ADS-B) is a technology that broadcasts without the need for action from the pilot or any request from ATC. In the words of Universal Avionics senior sales manager Robert Randall: “It represents a class of enablers that provide significant operational capabilities by addressing some of the limitations of the present surveillance system. It is the cornerstone of the FAA’s transition to satellite-based surveillance and navigation under the NextGen Air Transportation System plan.”
He goes on to explain that the Broadcast part of ADS means that the aircraft’s avionics system automatically transmits messages containing position and velocity information. This makes the aircraft visible and real-time both to the ATC and other appropriately equipped ADS-B aircraft. It allows ATC to monitor and separate aircraft efficiently and with more precision. Because it uses GPS signals, it expands surveillance services into areas where little or no radar coverage exists, such as in Alaska and the Gulf of Mexico. And it provides surveillance and improved situ-ational awareness to pilots and ATC. Providing a flexible and expandable platform to accommodate future air traffic growth, ADS-B is designed to improve the safety, capacity and efficiency of the National Airspace System. Business Air News takes a look at the impact on the business aviation market.
EASA has mandated that by 7 June, 2020, all European aircraft that weigh more than 5,700 kg, or have a max cruise speed greater than 250 kts, will need to be equipped with ADS-B capabilities in order to operate in European airspace. They need to be equipped with DO-260B compliant transponders. It has been mandatory for new production aircraft for a few years, but a huge fleet of aircraft needs to be retrofitted; a great business opportunity for STC applicants. European Commission rules ensure that airborne install-ations are future proof. All aircraft operating in Europe and the US will be required to transmit ADS-B positioning information in com-pliance with DO-260B.
The mandate covers helicopters and, at January’s Heli-Expo, HAI president and CEO Matt Zuccaro expressed concerned that the rotorcraft industry’s adoption rate for the technology is trailing behind fixed wing take up.
Light helicopters, generally below 5,000 kg maximum gross weight, are exempt – great news if you have a Robinson 66 or a Bell 206, for example. Medium lift and above will be subject to the terms of the mandate. But Zuccaro added that many helicopter operators believe that they're exempt, some wrongly, so they should probably check whether they pass through ruled airspace in their operations.
Helicopter operators can fly under IFR in non-ADS-B airspace if their aircraft is not equipped with ADS-B Out, as the requirements of the ADS-B rule apply only to defined airspace, regardless of whether or not the operation is conducted under VFR or IFR.
There are no current mandatory requirements for ADS-B Out in VFR helicopters, although replacement transponders must be Mode S ADS-B capable. Further, any new aircraft is required to have a Mode S Extended Squitter ADS-B capable transponder if it operates in ADS-B airspace.
What use would ADS-B Out be to the operator of a VFR-only equipped helicopter? The FAA says: “ADS-B Out is a little like having tail lights on your car. They are used by others. In an environment when most aircraft have ADS-B Out, those aircraft with ADS-B In will have the ability to see other aircraft that are nearby.”
Compliance: the action or fact of complying with a wish or command
Installation is considered to be an STC or major change, but this is not primarily a safety initiative. It is the foundation for next-generation surveillance technology, says the team at ACSS (an L3 and Thales Joint Venture). And as drones, unmanned aircraft and urban air mobility vehicles begin integrating into the national airspace, ADS-B will play a key role in ATC maintaining situational awareness for manned and unmanned aircraft.
RUAG MRO International’s team at Lugano-Agno has been managing ADS-B Out, Enhanced Surveillance (EHS) and FANS avionics upgrades for Piaggio P180 Avanti aircraft and Dassault Falcon business jets since the creation of its first STC for ADS-B Out in 2016. It relies on direct communication with EASA for accurate information and the latest regulation support as development of mandate requirements progresses.
“Conjecture regarding exemptions and extensions proves there is still an inherent uncertainty within the EASA-regulated business jets community, says Agno general manager Stephan Woodtli. “Our responsibility as a competent and trusted MRO facility is to provide our customers with certainties – facts they are able to rely on and support that is accurate and timely.”
The team will respond to upgrade requests with a firm offer within two days, citing a fixed downtime and fixed price. This fast turnaround depends not only on the team’s avionics capabilities and know-how, but also the right basis configur-ations, availability of equipment and spares, and the flexibility for personnel and slot availability. “As we approach the compliance deadlines, equipment and spares may be difficult to come by,” cautions Woodtli. “This means costs will increase and timings may prove difficult, and there will be an impact on flexibility of appointments.”
RUAG’s sites at Lugano-Agno, Munich-Oberpfaffenhofen and Geneva-Meyrin support ADS-B Out compliant avionics upgrades for the aircraft they serve. The majority of customers flying into the Lugano-Agno facilities operate within Europe, but all three sites maintain authorisation for FAA-registered aircraft and, as such, offer solutions for the FAA mandated compliance too.
From a supplier perspective, Flying Colours is aware that a number of aircraft owners and operators are delaying installation, despite the impact of not being ready becoming well documented. Director of sales Kevin Kliethermes says the threat of potential grounding is real for aircraft flying into controlled airspace without ADS-B Out, and everybody is more than aware of the cost of unplanned downtime in general; for charter operators it could be lost revenue and for corporate aircraft it could be lost business. Ignoring the issue could be costly and time consuming and may potentially devalue the asset. “There is also evidence to suggest that as the deadline draws closer, the rules of supply and demand are kicking in and parts are becoming expensive, or very difficult to source,” he says. “Slots are becoming as much of a commodity as the aircraft themselves.”
Piaggio Aerospace aircraft are fully ADS-B compliant for new deliveries and in-service aircraft are benefitting from retrofit availability, so there will be no impact on sales according to external communication and government affairs spokesman Paola Cheung. So far there has been no great impact on ground time, and the company states that it is fully committed to adopting the highest standards made available by modern technologies, as in the case of 2020 avionic mandates that improve reliability and workloads for the ATC segment.
Meeting the requirements? Or not, as the case may be…
Flying Colours encourages owners to book their slots soonest, to avoid paying premium prices. The com-pany suggests that they should be thinking about not just this installation, but others that may be required as the mandates are continually revised.
Switzerland-based MansAir has a Cessna 340A and a Piper Turbo Saratoga SP, neither of which are ADS-B capable. “They are piston twins and singles and are used on very short routes within central Europe,” says CEO Thomas Manser, “so we have not upgraded them yet.” And given the approach of the deadline, he thinks that it is more likely that they will be replaced rather than upgraded, with turbine twins or singles. The PC-12 would best match requirements, so ADS-B capability would not be an issue.
Bell was an early adopter of ADS-B technology and participated in the FAA Equip 2020 rebate process initiative. The company put measures into place back in 2015 to assure that all commercial models coming off the assembly line were equipped with the mandated ADS-B Out capability as standard factory equipment, including the Bell 505, 407GX/GXi, 429, 412EPI and 525 models. Bell elected to equip its models with 1090ES (Extended Squitter) ADS-B Out which makes these installations acceptable the world over.
With regard to its legacy fleet, Bell recognises that due to the wide variety of equipment installed, the best path to ADS-B is often dependent on other equipment already installed. For models such as the Bell 407 and 206, which were customised with Garmin navigation systems, Bell has developed and certified ADS-B kits that are available through Aeronautical Accessories and its Bell Piney Flats facility.
To Europe from the Middle East
“We are working on ADS-B upgrades for all of our aircraft so that we can fly to Europe,” says Jordanian aviation services company Arab Wings head of sales and marketing Manal Obeid. The company’s entire fleet flies into Europe, and while work is already complete for around 60 per cent of its aircraft, the rest are due for maintenance soon and will be upgraded then. Given that the newest Arab Wings aircraft is a 2013-build, none had ADS-B already installed.
The affected fleet comprises a Lineage 1000, Gulfstream G450, Global 5000, Legacy 650, Challenger 604 and 605, a BBJ and a Hawker. It does also have King Air B200s in the Middle East, registered in Iraq, but Obeid notes: “This kind of aircraft does not require the upgrade as it doesn’t have the range to operate anywhere other than in the Middle East. The cost of the upgrade would be very high for a small aircraft.”
A new-to-fleet Legacy 600 is with maintenance now and will be released soon, and as some of its aircraft fly to the US, namely a Gulfstream G450, Global 5000 and a BBJ, those aircraft were upgraded first, as a priority.
The trials of being Out, not In
When French operator Voldirect bought its PC-12NG, ADS-B Out was already installed, but not ADS-B In. “I don’t know exactly what is going to happen with ADS-B In in Europe,” says president Frederic Caussarieu. “There is no consensus yet on how it should be handled.” He says the rules for In are very clear in the US; ADS-B Out on 1090 MHz extended squitter transponders, and UAT on 978 MHz for ADS-B In Traffic Information System – Broadcast (TIS-B). “For the time being it seems that we need to wait for an agreement between the US and EASA, because apparently the 978 MHz frequency is not available in Europe for the moment.”
For retrofits, he says: “It is a case of having an extended squitter transponder installed, and it costs just a few thousand euros so it’s not a big deal. But ADS-B In requires a receiver, and then the software has to be added.” If the standard for the receiver is the same as that in the US then the process is relatively simple; there is a plentiful supply of ADS-B In electronic devices available in the US. However, if Europe adopts a different standard, he foresees a problem, and higher costs.
Voldirect has already completed a retrofit installation on its TBM850 at a cost of less than 11,000 euros. The old transponder was replaced with a newer version and fitted with the extended squitter option, meaning that it has the capability to transmit data out on top of the regular radar signal. The Garmin installation, too, was pretty easy to update: “The transponder was replaced by an extended squitter-capable unit. We didn’t have to have a full new device, we just swapped out the existing one and paid the difference.
“What we need now is a clear roadmap in Europe, so that operators know what they have to do in terms of ADS-B In,” he adds. Since this new system replaces the current air traffic controller system he wants clarification, so that operators know what they have to pay for; at the moment he feels that it is not very clear.
Voldirect retrofitted its TBM not to meet the deadline, but rather because it was interested in how ADS-B Out provides a good display of the aircraft positioning on Flightradar24. It shows whether a flight has been delayed, where an aircraft is, and whether it is taxiing on the runway. All this is very useful for monitoring operations. Private owners don’t necessarily need all this, but Caussarieu finds it especially good when monitoring several aircraft, as it gives a better understanding of what is happening and means he can communicate any delay to the customer.
Bundling ADS-B Out update with other services to minimise downtime
Not only are parts now becoming expensive, or very difficult to source, says Kliethermes, but slots are going up in price. Companies fitting ADS-B equipment are likely to be main-tenance houses that, from a business perspective, will always choose a large maintenance project over a single ADS-B installation, and that presents a challenge for the average owner. The type of solution will depend on an aircraft’s age and model, as what works for one may not work for another he says, and the industry is also anticipating that the NextGen system will continue to evolve, with more countries adding ADS-B regulations to their safety requirements.
But the workaround to this type of situation is straightforward, says Woodtli. “If a business jet operator is scheduling downtime for a C-check or other MRO event, then it will be to their operational and financial advantage to schedule the avionics upgrade at the same time. This is crucial,” he says. “And even without an MRO event, we encourage oper-ators to contact us now. This way we can plan the work, plan the equipment and allocate personnel and slots in a timely manner.”
Croatian operator Jung Sky made one of its Cessna CJ2s compliant back in June 2018 and the other will be finalised by July this year. The fitting was performed during heavy main-tenance at the ID10, the equivalent of a D-check on larger passenger jets, says CEO captain Krešimir Jung, when most of the structure was opened for inspection and main-tenance tasks. Besides man hours, costs involved STC, hardware such as ADS-B transponders – in this case Garmin GTN750/650 – wirings and other materials. “As a rough calculation, on the CJ2 we are looking at around e75,000,” he says.
Two main factors impact the installation according to ACSS: physical space and installation. The space in which to work is always an issue with smaller aircraft such as Learjets, where the avionics are in the nose. Working in confined spaces makes the job tougher. With regards the wiring and installation effort, ACSS designed its NXT-600 to be a plug-and-play solution for the ACSS RCZ Mode S Transponder, as well as for Rockwell Collin’s TDR 94 and 94D transponders. Upgrading ACSS’s ATDL transponder is a software-only upgrade, so this reduces the installation time needed to update the system. ACSS transponders are compatible with ARINC 735/A/B TCAS II systems as well as with several processors and control heads.
The company adds that all solutions meet DO-260B specifi-cations. However, any differences will be in the size, weight and software upgrade path for future ADS-B features. ACSS’ NXT transponders are all entirely re-designed and re-engineered leveraging the latest technology, providing a three pound weight saving and significantly increasing the usable life. The cost is dependent on the current avionics installed, the type of aircraft, and the age of the aircraft.
AirX operates a mixed fleet of commercial aircraft and business jets. Group CEO Houssam Hazzoury explains that the company formulated a plan almost a year ago to carry out ADS-B alongside heavy maintenance inputs, in order to minimise labour costs. It put four aircraft through this work last year, and will continue to put the rest of the fleet through until the deadline.
Around one third of the fleet is already upgraded, one aircraft is actually undergoing work at the moment, and more will be under-taken through the winter as the company keeps the aircraft in the air over the summer period.
Service bulletins and supple-mental type certificates are already purchased, along with the kits, and AirX has taken some extra measures too; through its logistics department it has purchased some equipment and brought it into stock. “So, we will keep rotating the equipment in the shop until we finish the process for all the aircraft,” says Hazzoury.
With commercial jets there are hundreds of examples of each aircraft type, and the cost is much less when compared to the business jet he notes. “Presumably the design cost from the manufacturer and design organisation is spread among a larger number of commercial aircraft as opposed to a relatively smaller number of business jets,” he adds. But now he finds that as the deadline approaches, even though there is still a year to go, prices have shot up compared to last year for the antennas, the transponders and even the labour at some MROs. Operators want to do the checks before the summer starts. The lead time last year was two weeks but now it is up to three, or even four weeks.
Having spoken to other operators, and particularly operators of medium to light jets, he notes that they are finding the cost to be extremely high compared to the value of the aircraft, and adds: “Some of them are planning to do the installation just before the deadline as they believe that EASA might extend it, or that exemptions on certain aircraft type might be possible.”
Advantages of digital documentation
Web Manuals’ New York-based CEO and founder Martin Lidgard advises that it will be a necessity for aircraft operators, by law, to ensure their documentation and manuals are updated. “Using a digital documentation service like Web Manuals will make the implementation far more straight-forward, saving an operator considerable expenditure when it comes to money, resources, and time,” he says. In the past, this kind of significant document update would have required manually updating files using a word processing tool and then re-printing and distributing these files to staff, a process that could take weeks. “A digital solution alleviates this laborious process, meaning operators can make the relevant ADS-B Out amends to their documents and manuals electronically and share these updates with staff immediately,” he adds.
AviationManuals CEO Mark Baier notes that the FAA has decided to discontinue the ADS-B Out Letter of Authorisation (A153) and will no longer be issuing authorisations to US operators; continuous monitoring of equipment performance has proven to be the most effective means of oversight. The company, however, recommends that US operators carry a copy of Notice 8900.491 to show to foreign inspectors if they are requested to provide authorisation. Different airspaces will have different regulations, so the company encourages operators to research equipage requirements when planning overseas flights, and while these new mandates apply to ADS-B Out, operators need to keep in mind that ADS-B In continues to require an LOA.
Taking into account the projected growth of the aviation industry and ongoing congestion of airspace, Luxaviation Group chief technology officer David Van Den Langenbergh suggests that operators should do whatever is possible to guarantee safe operation, while making maximum use of the space available: “While investing in safety-related technology like ADS-B is not always tangible, it is however priceless if it helps to alleviate a disaster.”
Approximately 80 per cent of the Luxaviation fleet has been upgraded. Those that have not are either awaiting base maintenance that was scheduled before the January 2020 due date, or are pending sale by the owners. “We ensure that the end-users are updated regularly and are well aware of the consequences if the mandate is not met,” says Van Den Langenbergh. Some older generation aircraft don’t have OEM solutions, so he goes instead to avionics equipment manufacturers and specialist installers. So far he has seen costs vary between e50,000 and e200,000 per installation, with each operation taking between three and six weeks. “We have found that working with the larger OEM MROs has been a huge help because they have the skillset, back-office support and routine to carry out the upgrades,” he adds.
The more secure air travel can be, the better, says Kliethermes: “This cog in the larger NextGen transport management machine will hopefully improve air space efficiency, as well as have positive effects on the environment with better planned routes and aircraft management.”
Jung agrees that it should bring about better tracking in congested airspace. This will increase safety in RVSM (reduced vertical separation minima) operations, allow more precise tracking of aircraft during departures and approaches, provide more information for the flight crew and there should be less congestion on ATC frequencies.
Algeria’s air navigation organi-sation ENNA has a Cessna Citation that is already equipped, but which will be upgraded over time in line with traffic airflow management service advice about an intensive rise in traffic in an ever-more crowded and restricted airspace. The country’s airspace is huge, and the majority is over desert, so air traffic controller and accident investigator Gacem Feth el Nour is keen to see ADS-B Out equipped aircraft overflying the area: “We may be able to fix some issues so that it could display weather information, with an option to record data and replay the flight profile,” he adds. “That would be a gold mine for us.”
Alongside an improvement to a pilot’s situational awareness, he is concerned that VIP aircraft, medevac, military aircraft – all have access to worldwide air traffic information at the click of a button – he wonders whether we should be wary of cyberattack and malicious incidents, adding: “We have to figure out how to make this process safe, and to ensure the safety of crew and passengers.”
At Flying Colours the issue of safety has become a regular and relevant discussion point when talking with clients, who have come to understand the potential security risks and who are now asking questions up front and putting safeguards in place more than ever before.
ACSS adds that security is a concern for some pilots who feel it is an invasion of privacy, especially high profile public figures in the business jet market. However, in general, the benefits outweigh any security issues.
Caveat venditor, seller beware GAMA and other associations have warned of asset devaluation through non-compliance notes Kliethermes; if an aircraft is not already equipped its value is probably less than it should be for its age already, and older aircraft may be naturally retired. “My team tells me that they often talk to operators who, for one reason or another be it pricing, budgeting or capacity, have not yet put installation plans in place,” he says. “Without the equipment, the aircraft is obviously not going to retain its value as it is a mandatory piece of kit.”
Jetcraft senior vice president of sales EMEA Pascal Bachmann addresses the impact on price at point of sale of a non-compliant aircraft: “The buyer may either insist on having it delivered with the upgrade, at your cost, or may negotiate a price reduction to offset the cost of upgrading once the sale is completed.”
Jung predicts that a large number of business jets will not be compliant in time, since maintenance facilities are almost booked up through to June 2020. So he expects the value of Jung Sky’s CJ2s to increase as they are both ADS-B + LPV/VNAV capable.
The Jordan-based Dallah Albarakah fleet is not compliant yet. MD Faisal Haddadin says that estimates are around $850,000 with eight weeks ground time, but reckons that parts need to be ordered four months in advance along with payment of a big deposit. “ADS-B is a requirement for Europe and limited other countries such as the UAE at the moment,” he says, “but I cannot foresee any sales issues as it really depends where you sell the aircraft.”
The full impact of ADS-B costs probably remains to be seen says AirX’s Hazzoury, but it is likely to have the biggest impact on small operators. “Are they going to be able to do the upgrade, will it eliminate some operators from the charter market?” he wonders. Given the recession in the aviation market he notes that many airlines have gone bust over the last 12 months, and he questions whether or not smaller operators are going to be able to raise funds to finance the upgrade. “Banks in Europe are not really financing equipment at the moment,” he notes, “which is not the same situation as the US at all.”
Adverts now tend to show ADS-B as a feature of aircraft for sale, and ACSS has noticed a rise in price of compliant aircraft. In general, it finds that pilots are reacting favourably to the technology as it is easy to learn, provides valuable information and reduces workload. Worth noting, it adds, is that as all major markets are adopting the technology operators who choose not to equip with ADS-B will be limited to the airspace they are able to fly in.
As Universal Avionics’ Randall concludes, with the mandate rapidly closing in: “The shops are operating at capacity and getting your aircraft scheduled for ADS-B Out equipage is getting tough to impossible, and the OEMs for the equipment are reporting longer lead times as the demand for product increases.”
He notes that the FAA has recently approved a temporary operational process that those who are not equipped by the US mandate deadline can apply for a one-time flight into ADS-B Out airspace for each flight until they are properly equipped. These authorisations may or may not always be approved, so equipping your aircraft, he says, is the right thing to do.
Where is ADS-B Out required?
Source: AOPA from Universal Avionics
The FAA has mandated ADS-B Out capabilities for flight in most airspace where a Mode C transponder is required today. There is one significant exception: ADS-B also will be required in certain airspace above the Gulf of Mexico.
Outside the United States
At this time, only the United States is allowing the 978UAT data link for ADS-B Out. If you plan to fly in ADS-B airspace outside of the United States, you will need a 1090ES data link, using a Mode S Extended Squitter transponder. Because the list of countries with ADS-B Out requirements and proposals is growing, we strongly recommend equipping with 1090ES if you plan to fly internationally. Remember that for countries without a mandate, there is no ADS-B Out requirement.
ADS-B Out mandates and proposals cover:
There is not currently a mandate for ADS-B In
ADS-B In allows aircraft, when equipped properly, to receive and interpret other participating aircraft's ADS-B Out data on a computer screen or an Electronic Flight Bag in the cockpit. It requires an approved ADS-B Out system, along with a dedicated ADS-B receiver that has ‘In’ capability. Additionally, an ADS-B compatible display interface will be needed for graphic weather and traffic displays TIS-B and FIS-B (Flight Information System – Broadcast).