Officials at the Experimental Aircraft Association report they are in ongoing discussions with the FAA to ensure that experimental amateur-built owners are not forgotten as the FAA looks toward the Jan. 1, 2020 mandate for equipping aircraft with ADS-B avionics.
Historically, builders and owners of experimental aircraft have been able to install avionics that meet the performance standards of certified equipment, but are not specifically approved by the FAA, EAA officials note.
Even in IFR-equipped aircraft, avionics do not have to be approved devices and can be installed by the aircraft builder or by an A&P mechanic. EAA wants to preserve that historical precedent for ADS-B equipment installation as well.
“The latitude within the amateur-built regulations includes the ability to meet the required performance standards in the ADS-B mandate through means other than certified avionics and professional installers,” said Sean Elliott, EAA’s vice president of advocacy and safety. “EAA wants to maintain the culture of innovation and education that has been a hallmark of our community and the FAA appears willing to help find a path forward for us.”
While the 2020 ADS-B mandate applies to all aircraft that will operate within controlled airspace, there are unique provisions and opportunities within the amateur-built regulations that may allow owners of experimental aircraft to meet the requirements with greater flexibility and potentially lower cost, EAA officials said. That could mean, for instance, the ability for a builder to install certified ADS-B systems, or seek out non-certified ADS-B systems that meet the mandate’s performance standards, they explain.
“Our point to the FAA is that we support the agency’s desire for full compliance with the 2020 mandate, provided cost-effective options are available,” Elliott said. “The amateur-built regulations allow individuals to fully comply with the requirements in their own way and at a potentially lower price point. There is still work to do, but EAA is committed to preserving the rights and opportunities allowed within amateur-built regulations in all areas, including ADS-B installation.”
EAA officials say they will continue these discussions with FAA officials, noting that, as with many past innovations, solutions developed by EAA and homebuilders may lead the way to eventual solutions for owners of all GA aircraft.