ADS-B Out upgrades: Think beyond the mandate

Like thousands of other operators, you are probably looking at ADS-B Out upgrade options for your aircraft.  With ADS-B Out mandates just three short years away, the clock is ticking to get your aircraft compliant.  While you need to get moving to meet the mandate, don’t rush so fast that you’ll overlook some important details.  Here are a couple things to think about when picking out the right solution for your aircraft.

What additional capabilities can my ADS-B Out equipment bring?  

Over the past few years we’ve seen regulatory agencies transitioning to more GPS-based procedures.  The United States has implemented more than 3,700 LPV approaches and is limiting investments in or decommissioning aging ground-based navigation systems like ILS and VOR.  The equipment required to navigate in the airspace is changing so keeping your aircraft up-to-date will help to maximize efficiency and airspace access.

What does all of this have to do with ADS-B Out?  

In the United States, you’ll need a Satellite-Based Augmentation System (SBAS) GPS position source to meet ADS-B Out position requirements.  SBAS receivers utilize additional satellite broadcasts to provide higher accuracy position data to the end user. You may have heard of WAAS, EGNOS, GAGAN and MSAS.  These are SBAS systems developed for the United States, Europe, India and Japan.

When selecting your ADS-B Out upgrade, consider how the SBAS GPS unit will be utilized on your aircraft.  If it’s a standalone solution that doesn’t integrate with your Flight Management System (FMS), you won’t be able to take advantage of additional capabilities like LPV approaches or RNP that provide additional efficiencies in the airspace and are on most airspace modernization roadmaps.  In most cases you may need to upgrade your FMS to realize these capabilities but that upgrade can be made in parallel with your ADS-B Out upgrade or it can be accomplished later.  Be sure to consider what few incremental benefits and additional future upgrade costs bolt-on solutions will provide outside of just meeting ADS-B Out requirements.

How will my aircraft be supported after the upgrade?

While important to everyone, this is especially important for customers with newer aircraft with integrated avionics systems (i.e., Rockwell Collins Pro Line 4, Pro Line 21 and Pro Line Fusion®).  While we all hope you don’t have technical issues with your aircraft, we know problems can come up.  Maintaining your integrated cockpit is going to help ensure your avionics OEM will be able to support you in those times of need.  Adding new suppliers’ products into the mix of your current avionics system can be risky.  If your current avionics supplier isn’t involved with or hasn’t at least tested another supplier’s products, they are not going to be able to ensure long-term compatibility nor can they easily support your broader avionics system if issues do come up.

Some of our OEMs are also incorporating ADS-B into broader upgrade packages for your Pro Line avionics system.  These packages bring ADS-B Out upgrades along with additional capabilities such as display capability upgrades, navigation capability enhancements and other options.  Future avionics upgrades provided through the OEM may be predicated on having these packages installed.  We highly suggest contacting your OEM to discuss ADS-B upgrade options available for your aircraft and requirements for future upgrades.

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Read more about author Rob Myhlhousen.

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