Nine months before operators must equip aircraft flying in US controlled airspace to signal their position by automatic dependent surveillance-broadcast Out (ADS-B Out), FAA has issued a statement explaining how it will handle non-equipped aircraft.
FAA can issue authorizations to operators who have not equipped their aircraft for ADS-B Out as required by its Part 91.225 regulation. But the policy statement, published April 1 in the Federal Register, emphasizes that authorization requests will be managed on a case-by-case basis and may be denied for various reasons.
“The only way to ensure seamless access to ADS-B Out airspace is to equip,” the agency said.
Under a final rule issued in May 2010, FAA requires that by Jan. 1, 2020, aircraft flying above 18,000 ft. or internationally be equipped with GPS and Mode S Extended Squitter (1090ES MHz) transponders to continuously broadcast their position to ground controllers—the function called ADS-B Out. The agency’s dual-band approach allows operators of lower-flying aircraft in domestic airspace to use GPS and 978 MHz universal access transceivers.
ADS-B will be FAA’s new surveillance paradigm, complementing and eventually replacing some secondary surveillance radars as a means of tracking aircraft. The European Commission requires that operators in Europe equip for ADS-B Out position reporting by June 7, 2020.
Operators of aircraft in the US who have not equipped for ADS-B Out must request authorization from the air traffic control (ATC) facility responsible for the airspace at least one hour before a proposed flight, according to the FAA policy statement. As allowed under Part 91.225(g), the ATC facility has flexibility to address “deviation” requests from non-equipped aircraft on a case-by-case basis and may refuse authorizations “for a variety of reasons, including but not limited to workload, runway configurations, air traffic flows and weather conditions,” the agency said.
The authorization policy becomes effective Jan. 2, 2020, according to the statement, signed by FAA Air Traffic Organization COO Teri Bristol.
Per-flight authorizations are not meant to support routine or regular operations of non-equipped aircraft in ADS-B rule airspace, the agency emphasizes.
“To that point, the FAA has not planned, nor does it plan to expend a significant amount of its limited budgetary resources to establish a new system to issue authorizations for the small number of operators of non-equipped aircraft seeking occasional access to ADS–B Out airspace,” the policy notice stated.
“Likewise, the FAA does not intend to divert ATC facility resources from other critical functions that directly support air traffic controllers performing their duties in order to prioritize and manage authorizations for operators of non-equipped aircraft.”
The policy notice lists 14 major US airports the agency defines as capacity-constrained, with demand that consistently matches or exceeds 85% of capacity, where FAA more likely will deny rather than issue ADS-B deviation authorizations.
In October 2018, FAA reintroduced a rebate program it originally offered in 2016-2017 to help general aviation pilots equip for the ADS-B Out requirement. The program provides $500 rebates for installed avionics to owners of fixed-wing, single-engine piston aircraft through Oct. 11, 2019.
Apr 4, 2019 Bill Carey