In his opening remarks at the Meet the FAA forum during this year’s SUN ’n FUN, FAA Deputy Administrator Michael Whitaker, a new pilot, noted that he came in a day early to the show so he could take some time to walk around the grounds and see everything.
“I was encouraged to see all the ADS-B equipment,” he said, noting that “in the last 12 months there has been a lot of activity surrounding ADS-B.”
ADS-B — Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast — is the cornerstone of the Next Generation Air Transportation System, known as NextGen.
ADS-B provides more accurate tracking of aircraft than radar, he said, noting that if an ADS-B equipped plane has an emergency and goes down, there won’t be a need to search for it as its location will be known.
“We won’t have to concentrate on the search, just the rescue,” he said.
By Jan. 1, 2020, any aircraft traveling in controlled airspace must be equipped for ADS-B-Out — and Whitaker made it clear at SUN ’n FUN that the date for the mandate won’t change.
The FAA held a “Call to Action” recently to assess where the aviation industry stood in terms of equipping for ADS-B. While the airlines are getting aboard, GA has lagged behind, he noted.
“The biggest issue we heard from GA — loud and clear — was price,” he said. “But already we’ve seen the lowest price on equipment drop from $4,000 to about $2,000.”
That price drop is attributed to competition in the marketplace, he acknowledged.
He also noted that as the industry gears up to meet the mandate, it’s important that aircraft owners start equipping now.
“Installation is the tricky part of the equation,” he said. “Lots of planes need to start equipping now or the avionics shops will be overloaded.”
He reported that 8,000 GA airplanes had been equipped with ADS-B in just the last eight months.
“So that’s a trend in the right direction,” he said.