As the deadline for Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast (ADS-B), a keystone in the NextGen initiative, approaches, concerns are being raised that the larger percentage of operational aircraft are not climbing on board. It is thought that just 10% of general aviation aircraft and a meagre 3% of major carrier aircraft will be ADS-B compliant by the end of this year.
ADS-B, within the NextGen satellite-based air traffic control system has two elements – Out, which refers to the communications sent from an aircraft to the system which relates to its position, and In, referring to area traffic information transmitted by the system itself to equipped aircraft that can receive and read the data.
The multi-billion dollar system is well into construction, with 624 radio stations deployed by April this year. There are ‘significant risks and challenges’, however, according to a system audit by the Department of Transportation which include a lack of testing, certifying avionics, monitoring and cost management, all fading into the background when it comes to actual uptake of the initiative by operators.
Many operators are concerned at the moment that the only benefit for the industry in terms of the installation of ADS-B is regulatory compliance.
The biggest concern is that non-ADS-B equipped aircraft will be prohibited from entering controlled NextGen airspace after January 2020 and a statement from the FAA reiterated their position, which clarifies their position as a firm one, “You cannot get ADS-B traffic unless your aircraft is properly equipped to participate in the ADS-B system.”