As ADS-B Mandates Loom, Equipage Slots Dwindle
The European ADS-B Out mandate will take effect at midnight June 6, 2020, and by that date, aircraft must be equipped with a GPS position source, such as a certified WAAS GPS antenna, and a 1090-megahertz mode-S extended squitter transponder to relay the information to air traffic control.
For operators who fly to the U.S., a similar requirement will exist there, starting after midnight on Dec. 31, 2019. As those deadlines loom, hangar space and skilled avionics technicians will be at a premium and costs will likely rise. Repair Stations have already been performing several hundred ADS-B installations at their avionics shops located at airports throughout the U.S., and many are accepting slot reservations that guarantee both hangar space and qualified labor resources.
As of June 1, 2018, there are 19 months remaining until the FAA’s Jan. 1, 2020, ADS-B Out equipage deadline. But there’s another crucial date associated with ADS-B coming up this year.
By Aug. 1, 2018, any category of operator — whether commercial airline, corporate jet provider or even U.S. military — needs to submit an upgrade plan to the FAA to qualify for Exemption 12555. It’s not an exemption from equipping with ADS-B Out, rather it is one granted by the FAA to give operators an extra five years to equip their aircraft with third-generation GPS receivers, or those that have satellite-based augmentation system (SBAS) compatibility. This stems from an ADS-B requirement featured in CFR 91.227, the Navigation Accuracy Category for Position (NACp) and Navigation Integrity Category (NIC) requirements. It will require commercial airlines operating legacy Airbus and Boeing and other commercial aircraft to retrofit with SBAS multimode receivers (MMR). This is the upgrade that an operator will have to outline when submitting Exemption 12555 to the FAA.
But how do you outline an equipage plan for something that doesn’t exist yet? As I learned from Borja Roiz, an Etihad Airways engineer leading the Middle Eastern carrier’s ADS-B Out installation plan, the SBAS MMR technology it needs to equip its fleet to meet the NACp and NIC requirements simply do not exist yet.
Is this a unique challenge for Etihad, or are others facing similar ADS-B equipage issues?