January 1, 2020 – Why This Date is So Important?

Alexander Craig, AvRisk Managing Director

What is ADS-B?

Automatic Dependent Surveillance – Broadcast (ADS–B) is a surveillance technology in which an aircraft determines its position via satellite navigation and periodically broadcasts it, enabling it to be tracked. The information can be received by air traffic control ground stations as a replacement for secondary radar.

As of January 1, 2020 all aircraft that operate within U.S. Airspace where a Mode C transponder is required now will need to have a certified ADS-B out system. Figure 1 depicts the airspace where ADS-B out is required. Almost all of the General Aviation aircraft in the U.S.A., from single engine piston, to multiengine jet aircraft operate within this airspace.

Source: FAA
Figure 1 – ADS-B Out Operation Required Airspace

ADS-B Out Solutions

ADS-B Out solutions come in two flavors: 1) Universal access transceiver (UAT), and 2) 1090 Extended Squitter (1090 ES). As may be seen in Figure 1, the UAT system is limited to below 18,000 feet. Also, no country outside the U.S. has accepted the UAT solution. High performance aircraft including all turboprop and jet aircraft that operate above 18,000 feet will need the 1090 ES solution.


ADS-B In provides almost real-time data back to ADS-B Out equipped aircraft. There are two important data types: 1) Traffic Information System – Broadcast (TIS-B), and 2) Flight Information System – Broadcast (FIS-B). TIS-B provides data on all aircraft within the vicinity. FIS-B provides flight information data including weather, TFR, and other data. Both TIS-B and FIS-B data may be displayed on an aircraft multifunction display (MFD) or using an Electronic Flight Bag (EFB) app available for Apple iOS and Android devices.

It is important to note that as of an update to TIS-B in 2015, TIS-B data is only broadcast to ADS-B Out equipped aircraft. This means inexpensive, non-certified ADS-B receivers, like the Stratux only receive “piggyback” TIS-B broadcasts when sent to other ADS-B Out equipped aircraft. Thus, there may be additional aircraft not displayed on the EFB coupled to the Stratux. Visual See and Avoid is still required for all pilots.

What Will ADS-B Cost?

ADS-B implementation costs vary widely, from approximately $5,000 for a single engine piston to potentially over $1M for a business jet. The FAA has created an ADS-B Rebate program for single engine piston aircraft to help subsidize implementation cost.

Will FAA Change the ADS-B Requirement Date?



It is highly recommended to implement both ADS-B Out (mandate) and ADS-B In together. Many of the available solutions are integrated ADS-B In and Out. Several alternatives include Bluetooth or Wi-Fi connectivity options for an EFB.
As of May 1, only 31 months remain. Many avionics and MRO shops already have a growing backlog for upgrades with waiting lists now exceeding 6 months. This author believes that the cost for ADS-B implementation will not go down as January 1, 2020 gets nearer. Implementation cost may actually go higher as competition for installation slots gets worse. Shops in Europe are already charging a premium just for a shop reservation date!
Please feel free to contact the author at acraig@avrisk.net with questions or comments, or for assistance with your ADS-B implementation.

Next Month: FANS 1A for International Aircraft Operations

About the Author

Alexander Craig is Managing Director at AvRisk, an aviation business advisory firm. Mr. Craig has been a senior executive and engineer at a number of Aerospace and Defense companies over the past 30 years. He holds ATP and CFI certificates and is an active pilot for the U.S. Air Force Auxiliary, Civil Air Patrol (CAP).