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FAA's ADS-B Rule Will Cost You

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The FAA Thursday released a final rule dictating requirements for aircraft owners to operate in NextGen's ADS-B-required environment by 2020, and it's going to cost you. The rule addresses ADS-B Out and applies to aircraft "operating in Classes A, B, and C airspace, as well as certain other specified classes of airspace," (see below) not unlike current transponder requirements. The FAA has previously (in the NPRM) estimated that the total cost to equip GA aircraft from 2012 to 2035 could range anywhere from $1.2 to $4.5 billion. It now estimates the quantified benefit to the GA fleet at $200 million. Those figures appear under a section titled, "General Aviation: High Equipage Costs With Little Benefit." According to the agency, "The FAA fully acknowledges that the general aviation community will incur significant costs from this rule." However, the FAA says this must be balanced against the system's overall benefits, which are expected to include hundreds of millions of gallons of fuel saved and the realization of other operational efficiencies. The FAA says it considered three options to resolve GA's cost benefit concerns.

First, to lower costs for individual operators (general aviation pilots), the FAA has modified the systems' performance requirements and determined changes that eliminate the need for ADS-B antenna diversity. The FAA believes this will help make the rule cheaper to implement. Second, moving forward, the FAA "intends to explore the costs and benefits" for service expansions that may include: more low altitude coverage; radar-like terminal ATC services at airports not currently served; automated closure of IFR flight plans; enhanced search and rescue; and providing FSS with ADS-B positional display information to allow for more tailored flight service functions. The third option considered was to limit ADS-B requirements to Class A and B airspace. This was dismissed because the FAA believes failure to equip all aircraft would greatly reduce the system's benefits. As for ADS-B In, "benefits from universal equipage for ADS–B In currently are not substantiated," according to the agency. "Standards for ADS-B In air-to-air applications are still in their infancy," and "it is premature to require operators to equip with ADS-B In at this time."

The ADS-B Out requirement applies to aircraft operating in:

  • Class A, B, and C airspace
  • All airspace at and above 10,000 feet MSL (mean sea level) over the 48 contiguous United States and the District of Columbia
  • Within 30 nautical miles of airports listed in 14 CFR §91.225, from the surface up to 10,000 feet MSL.
  • Class E airspace over the Gulf of Mexico from the coastline of the United States out to 12 nautical miles, at and above 3,000 feet MSL.


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