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3 min read

What is FIS-B And How Does it Work?

By Sparkchasers on October 4, 2022

You've probably heard of FIS-B. But perhaps you're not exactly sure what it is, or how it works? In this blog post, we'll explain what FIS-B is, and how it benefits pilots and aircraft owners.

What is FIS-B and what does it do?

FIS-B, short for Flight Information System Broadcast, is a data broadcasting service that works along with ADS-B to allow aircraft operators to receive aeronautical information such as weather and airspace restrictions through a data link to the cockpit. Along with its partner system TIS-B, FIS-B is available at no cost to ADS-B users as part of the FAA's Next Generation Air Transportation System (NextGen).

The system gathers information through the use of ADS-B ground stations and radar and delivers that data to an aircraft's onboard cockpit display in the form of weather alerts, airport information and various other reports. FIS-B was created for use by general aviation pilots and is a vital part of keeping them informed about conditions in the air and on the ground.

How does FIS-B work?

The Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast (ADS-B) system is a cooperative surveillance technology in which aircraft transmit their own position data derived from satellite navigation.

The FAA uses this data to provide positional awareness and other flight information services to aircraft equipped with ADS-B in avionics.

FIS-B messages are transmitted from ground stations to aircraft on a 978 MHz UAT data link.

Currently, there are over 500 operational ground stations that are part of the ADS-B network, with approximately 200 additional stations in development.

The aircraft's ADS-B receiver interprets the data and displays it for the pilot on an integrated flight management system or electronic flight bag. This allows pilots to have increased situational awareness and makes it easier to avoid potential conflicts with other aircraft.

Overall, the ADS-B system enhances safety and efficiency in the National Airspace System.

Equipment Required

All aircrafts that want to receive FIS-B information must be equipped with both ADS-B Out and ADS-B In equipment. 

ADS-B also requires a WAAS-enabled GPS receiver and a transponder, although some ADS-B units may come with a transponder built in. 

It's important to note that while TIS-B (Traffic Information Service-Broadcast) is available to both 978 MHz UAT and 1090ES transponder users, FIS-B is only broadcast to those using a dedicated 978 MHz Universal Access Transceiver (UAT). 

So aircraft operators that use a 1090ES transponder will have to get their weather services and graphics from a third-party source, like XM WX Satellite Weather. 

Finally, a compatible cockpit display (CDIT) is needed in order to make the FIS-B data usable.

FIS-B Limitations

FIS-B Advisory Service is a great way to get quick weather updates and information before take off, however there are some limitations to the service that you should be aware of. 

First and foremost, FIS-B is not meant to replace standard weather briefings or preflight planning procedures. It's simply an advisory service that can provide helpful information. 

Since FIS-B data link services operate in line-of-sight only, aircraft receivers must be within range of the ground station in order to receive the information. So if you're planning on using FIS-B Advisory Service, be aware of these limitations so that you can make sure you're getting the most accurate and up-to-date information possible.

Garmin Includes FIS-B Weather in the GTN 650/750 Series

The Garmin GTN 650/750 includes new weather products, such as lightning, cloud tops, turbulence, icing (current and forecasted), graphical AIRMETs and center weather advisories (CWA).

The GTN 650/750 can also display a selected altitude intercept arc on the moving map when installed with a Garmin primary flight display (PFD), such as the G500 TXi/G600 TXi, G500/G600 or G3X Touch.

When pilots input a preselected altitude on the PFD, the selected altitude arc will indicate where the airplane will intercept the preselected altitude if it maintains its current rate of climb or descent.

Additionally, when these Garmin units are paired with a G3X Touch flight display in experimental/amateur-built aircraft, pilots can also edit VFR flight plan information.

Garmin Avionics Upgrades at Sparkchasers

Sparkchasers Aircraft Services, an authorized dealer of Garmin avionics, offers a variety of services to help you upgrade your aircraft with the latest in Garmin technology.

Whether you're looking for a simple ADS-B solution or a complete avionics upgrade, we can help you choose the right products and get them installed quickly and efficiently.

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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