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4 min read

Myth or Truth? Sorting Out the Propaganda

By Ron Oetjen on August 21, 2017

Sun ‘n Fun is over. The Oshkosh Air Adventure is over. Many of the industry trade shows are also complete for 2017, but what is not over is the propaganda regarding ADS-B and the FAA 2020 Mandate. Despite the overabundance of information publically available about the subject, the mandate, and the technology some people just can’t help but make up their own facts.  I decided to put together a list of the top five (5) concerning questions or comments that people make regarding ADS-B when they stop by our shop.  Last week we did an FAA Safety Seminar in Goldsboro, NC on ADS-B and we discussed these questions or comments there. My sincere agenda during that seminar and with this blog is to dispel the myths and help people to understand the truths of what is going on with this FAA NextGen initiative.

So, here is my best attempt to share the facts on the top five (5) questions or comments that need clarity regarding ADS-B:

  1. Comment: The FAA is forcing aircraft owners to equip their aircraft with ADS-B solutions. The Truth:  Federal Aviation Regulation 91.225 is the code focused on ADS-B and it is clearly an airspace mandate and not an aircraft mandate. It starts out by saying “After January 1, 2020, and unless otherwise authorized by ATC, no person may operate an aircraft in Class A airspace…” and the continues to go through all the controlled airspace's that will require ADS-B. I have taken the time to provide the hyperlink and if you haven’t read the code already, I hope you will take the time to understand it. There is plenty of airspace in North Carolina (below 10,000’) that you will be able to fly in after 1/1/2020 without upgrading your aircraft.
  2. Question: Is the FAA really looking to remove voice communications with pilots in favor of text messages?   The Truth: The answer to this question is yes, but I wouldn’t get too panicked just yet. I believe that the original name of this NextGen intitave was CPDLC or Controller-Pilot Data Link Communications, but it looks like the name may now be Data Comm. How many of us pick up the phone and call people for simple and/or routine things these days? My guess is that not many of us go to that level as a quick text message is much more efficient. The FAA appears to be thinking very similarly and wants to come up with a more efficient way for communications between controllers and pilots. The controller sends a message to your flight management system (FMS) that tells you to “descend to 18,000” and the pilot acknowledges the instruction on the FMS. I’m not sure what you think about this, but it sounds like a pretty good idea to me.
  3. Question: If I don’t equip my aircraft with ADS-B Out, then I won’t be able to land at an airport inside of class C airspace like KRDU after January 1, 2020?  The Truth: FAR 91.225 starts out by giving you a big hint about the answer on this question when it says “and unless otherwise authorized by ATC.” The real answer to this questions is yes you can land, but it probably won’t be that efficient. Why won’t it be efficient? Because you have to call and get approval to land 1 hour prior to the proposed flight as noted in FAR 91.225 paragraph (G) (2). Basically, the exceptions are already authorized in the code, but you still have to get the approval from the ATC facility having jurisdiction over the concerned airspace you wish to fly into without an ADS-B equipped aircraft.
  4. Comment: My aircraft is ADS-B In equipped, so I essentially have a traffic collision avoidance system (TCAS)?   The Truth: We all need to understand the difference between these two systems. Please understand that the TIS-B traffic provided by the ADS-B In service is not even close to a TCAS system. ADS-B traffic services are merely indications of traffic where a TCAS system has a predictive algorithm designed to avoid a collision and to give the pilot commands to dodge another aircraft. While both may show the locations of traffic around you, don’t get complacent and count on ADS-B for more that what is designed for.
  5. Question: Can you set up my ADS-B transponder to transmit in anonymous mode so the government won’t see the n-number of my aircraft as a part of my 1090 broadcast?   The Truth: The short answer is No. FAR 91.225 paragraph (F) states “Each person operating an aircraft equipped with ADS-B Out must operate this equipment in the transmit mode at all times.” There is also an Advisory Circular that covers this same subject. While the equipment may have an anonymous mode option, we are required to put your N-number in and to not enable the anonymous mode. As a Part 145 Repair Station, we are a certificated maintenance facility closely observed by the FAA. You can do whatever you want with your aircraft after it leaves our facility, but we are required to follow the rules established by the FAA.

These aren’t the only questions we get asked or comments that we hear, but you can bet that we’ve heard each of these numerous times or I would not have wasted the time to address them here. I’m a big fan of ADS-B and not because I work at a Repair Station, but rather because I see the benefits it provides to the ATC controllers and to pilots equipped with ADS-B In equipment. You can fly around in much of the airspace above North Carolina legally and practice all your Top Gun fighter pilot maneuvers without equipping your aircraft with ADS-B. However, being legal don’t mean it’s the safe thing to do. I’m no fighter pilot, but I may be the pilot flying at your 12 O’clock at the same altitude you as you play Top Gun and I sure would love to see you pop up on my screen so I know you are there. Sure, I’ll be looking outside and hopefully I will see you, but if I didn’t it sure would be nice to have a little extra situational awareness to save us both from a bad situation.

Sparkchasers Aircraft Services specializes in expert installation and technology recommendations to customize your airplane’s flight panel with modern avionics from the top brands in the industry. Sparkchasers is an award-winning, experienced team that strives to provide excellent customer service, stay current with the latest avionics technology, and draws on years of experience to diagnose technical issues quickly and efficiently. Sparkchasers provides services for piston-driven, turboprop, and turbine engine aircraft. When you plan to upgrade your aircraft’s avionics or need FAA certifications completed, give us a call at (919) 934-1654 or visit www.flysparkchasers.com for a quick quote.

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