ADS-B: Does It Sharpen the Have and Have Not of Aviation?

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An occupational hazard of being a journalist is that you're occasionally—wittingly or unwittingly—a shill for some product, a service, an name it. One reason for this is that much of what we do on AVweb is bulletin reporting. By that, I mean if a development happens or someone says something, we report it straight up and there's neither the time nor the predilection to find a balancing view, if there even is one.

And that gets to the reporting we're doing on ADS-B and the coming mandate. More and more people in the industry, GAMA for instance, are saying they're worried that if owners procrastinate on this, there won't be enough capacity to install the thousands of ADS-B systems required. We've been reporting this straight up, without challenging it. I'm not convinced it's entirely true because it assumes all of the 220,000 owners, or whatever number you choose, are going to equip with ADS-B. But based on my conversations with people about ADS-B, I'm not so sure. Reluctant buyers seem to fall into two camps: the confused and the pissed. The confused aren't sure what the mandate requires, although they know it requires it by 2020. The pissed may or may not understand the mandate, but many are saying they're going to exit GA and sell their airplanes or otherwise not install ADS-B.

Even if most of them are bluffing, I'm betting that a lot aren't. A significant percentage of the aircraft-owning population is now of a "certain age," when they're flying less, spending more and teetering on the edge of remaining involved. Perhaps the ADS-B mandate is one of three elements that could be the perfect storm to push these owners out of airplanes and into RVs or late-life sports cars. The other two are the perception of higher fuel prices when 100LL is phased out and the (so far) false promise of relief on the Third Class medical. Oh, add one more: the stupid sleep apnea diagnosis the FAA is still pursuing. The ADS-B mandate is fully five years and four months off. What's your guess on whether the FAA will resolve the Third Class issue favorably during the next three to five years? I wouldn't bet on it.

My worry is that there will be just enough owner exits to noticeably tank used aircraft values and there won't be enough new owners coming online to take up the slack. That accelerates ownership erosion and it trickles down to less fuel purchased, fewer tiedowns and hangars rented, fewer engine overhauls and so forth. I'm not predicting a mass exodus; I'm expecting a noticeable drift toward the exits.

In this context, I think the industry is getting sideways with its customers through its dire warnings about lack of installation capacity. This shows that the sellers and organizations that represent them are out of touch with the people they have to convince to actually buy this equipment. And don't forget, it's not entirely about money, but also principle. Many owners are unhappy to feel railroaded by government decree into a program that they see as of little practical use and just another expensive barrier to owning an airplane. I'm not pushing that view myself because I don't share it. But I think it's reality.

At AirVenture, FAA Administrator Huerta said no how, no way will the 2020 mandate deadline slip. Before that, FAA deputy administrator Michael G. Whitaker told Congress that the mandate absolutely, positively will not change. As far as I'm concerned, this means it absolutely, positively will slip by a year or two because the confidence with which a government bureaucrat states that something is certain is inversely proportional to how rubbery it actually is. I have no inside information on this, by the way, and I'm not trying to start another rumor. But my guess is by 2018, we'll be writing stories about how the ADS-B requirement will be delayed. Just call it a hunch based on long experience watching the FAA crater its own deadlines. (UAV regulations anyone? Remember WAAS and GPS approvals?)

It has been suggested that the government simply fund the upgrades as basic infrastructure investment. That would cost about $800 million; probably not a bad investment. While I'm personally opposed to such government handouts, maybe split the difference and offer a $1500 credit for owners who upgrade before, say, 2018. That'll never happen, but it's worth mentioning. 

So, what to do? Lucky me, the Cub has no electrical system and no need to fly in mandated airspace so I can ignore the whole thing. If I had a capable airplane, say a Mooney, Cirrus, Bonanza or maybe a 182 or a light twin that I planned to keep for a few years, I'd equip now or within a year or two. Two years from now, I suspect there is not going to be a shop-choking rush and there are enough competing systems out there that you can get into mandated ADS-B for as little as $3000, depending on what else is in the panel. (You need a suitable GPS source.) A full-up Garmin GDL 88 will cost around $5000 installed. Although we all expect additional ADS-B products before the mandate, there's no assurance that any of them will be significantly cheaper or more capable than what's out there now, but there's always a chance. Anyway, for an airplane that's worth more than say, $80,000, the ADS-B investment just isn't that great as a percentage of ownership cost.

If you know you gotta do this, might as well get it over with. Even if you think you might sell your airplane before the mandate kicks in, either because you're exiting aviation or upgrading, it will be more saleable with ADS-B installed than without. And if my prediction of enough owners dumping airframes to soften already weak sales proves true, you might need all the help you can get to attract buyers and prop up the sale price.

It's the owners of less capable airplanes that aren't flown much that may have the most difficult decision. Older Cherokees and Skyhawks, vintage models like Cessna 120s, 140s, 150s and 170s, of which there are thousands. Beech Skippers and Musketeers. Older Mooney M20s. The list is long. I can well understand why these owners might sit on the fence until the shops actually do get backed up or until they have to sell. Owners of these airplanes are what's left of middle-income flying affordability. In a way, the ADS-B mandate sharpens the have and have-not divide that aviation has fostered. For some owners, a $5000 upgrade is chump change. For others, equipping with ADS-B will represent a quarter or more of the value of the airframe. I don't know what I'd do in this circumstance. Probably wait until 2017 and take my chances that cheaper boxes will appear.

To be perfectly clear-eyed about it, ADS-B is not entirely without merit. The Out broadcast doesn't get you much, other than more precise positional information to ATC and, of course, continued access to airspace. The In broadcast brings in weather and increasingly better traffic information. (Ironically, just as traffic systems get better, there are ever fewer airplanes flying for these systems to see.) The FIS-B weather component is definitely a nice to have, although you can get that in a cheap portable outputting to a tablet. And that might argue for the cheapest possible ADS-B Out solution you can find. ADS-B In is supposed to be the carrot to entice equipage, but the flaw in that logic is you can get FIS-B for under $1500 and have an EFIS to play on your tablet to boot. Overpriced carrots anyone?

The regulators have dealt GA owners a difficult if not a bad hand not just because owners resent being forced to buy equipment they really don't want. It's the timing and the demographics that make this mandate more damaging than is generally believed, in my view. I think the alphabets and companies selling ADS-B are insensitive to this. I think equipage is going slowly because so many of us see little compelling value in ADS-B and the carrot-and-stick offer of free weather just looks like a stick. Shrill warnings about reluctant owners failing to equip putting themselves at risk just makes it look like a bigger stick.

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Comments (69)

The confused, the pissed and the resigned to our fate.

Posted by: Rafael Sierra | August 17, 2014 3:37 PM    Report this comment

This is looking more and more like a back door method for the government to get owners to equip with a GPS nav system so the FAA can shut down VORs and whats left of NDBs, requiring IFR owners to spend even more money on 56 day database updates to be legal.

Can you say MLS?

Posted by: matthew wagner | August 17, 2014 4:56 PM    Report this comment

Good article. One thing that you did not include in the text is the fact that renters will get whacked with another cost increase as owners will have to shell out the $ for the ADBS. With rent a wreck C172s going for $150 per hour now, how much more will the mandate add to the rental cost. You are right, that Harley is looking better all the time.

Posted by: Leo LeBoeuf | August 17, 2014 5:35 PM    Report this comment

"I'm expecting a noticeable drift toward the exits".

Ummm, it's been happening for years now. In the 14 short years since I got my license in CA I've seen ramps empty out almost everywhere. Shops are closing or suffering due to being pinched by greedy municipalities on one side, and insane aircraft parts prices on the other.

$6/gallon 110LL and a looming ADS-B mandate are just the last few nails. I've suggested over and over to various alphabet groups that they should spend a little coin on something other than a wine club or more AD&D insurance scams; perhaps helping to fund a $499 GPS ADS-B source in a single puck with four wires (that's all you need to wire it to a compatible transponder and power).

I'm not holding my breath.

Posted by: neil cormia | August 17, 2014 5:49 PM    Report this comment

New airframes. Save GA!

Posted by: Rafael Sierra | August 17, 2014 6:04 PM    Report this comment

"(Ironically, just as traffic systems get better, there are ever fewer airplanes flying for these systems to see.)". Absolutely correct.

Posted by: Rafael Sierra | August 17, 2014 6:55 PM    Report this comment

For birds not already equipped with a WAAS-certified GPS box (the vast majority of the light-GA fleet), the cost of complying with the 2020 mandate will approach or exceed $20k. For most of us, expenditures like that require some kind of a compelling value proposition. With today's available ADS-B equipment, the proposition delivers insufficient value.

A "magic-box" solution would clean out the panel - all of those old, power-hungry, heavy radios; all of those old, loud, heavy, unreliable gyros. It would include EFIS with synthetic VFR/HITS, WAAS-Nav, Com, ADS-B in/out, Mode-S transponder, 406 MHz ELT, and EICAS. Lighter; less power; new capabilities; better reliability; brand-new! Owners might actually be inclined to install one (or more) of the things, because in addition to satisfying the 2020 requirement, it also would provide actual utility value. Remember, ADS-B out per say provides no discernible value to the owner/pilot. As Paul points out, for the most part, equipage is little more than a very expensive continued-flying-privileges-granted tax.

In a recent thread, Jim Hanson suggested that my magic-box-like capability already exists, in the form of non-certified Dynon boxes. Intrigued, I spoke with an engineer at Dynon. Unhappily, it turns out that Jim's understanding of Dynon's hardware is flawed. Yes, you can string together a collection of Dynon boxes for just under $10K. Unfortunately, that string won't include external navigation sources for VOR, LOC, GS, marker beacon, and WAAS-compliant GPS - all boxes which currently are not manufactured by Dynon. Ka-ching - add in another $20K, plus installation of the whole shebang. And Garmin's "low-cost" GDL-88 approach presumes the installation of other (not exactly free) boxes in the panel.

Sure, you don't need VOR, LOC, GS, marker beacon to comply with the ADS-B-out mandate. But unless you really want to put all of your eggs in one technology basket, you still need that stuff - if only as a backup to that infallible ( ? ) GPS solution. [At this point, I feel compelled to point out that redundancy is NOT a synonym for reliability.]

In the context of the costs of equipping with what's available today, $30k + represents half or more of the value of many of the airframes in the fleet. Lots of money; little added value. Consequently, I predict that half of the light GA fleet will retire or change hands at pennies-on-the-dollar, on the day that the ADS-B requirement actually goes into effect - whenever that may be. This party's almost over. It was great, though.

Posted by: Thomas Yarsley | August 17, 2014 7:33 PM    Report this comment

Yars, you should familiarize yourself with some of the products out there. The cost won't be $20K, or even close. The Freeflight line, for instance, offers a 978 UAT box that can include its own WAAS GPS source. Around $4K for the hardware; call it five installed for most shops.

BendixKing is marketing these boxes, too. That's what they announced at AirVenture. The GDL 88 has similar GPS input capability and now Garmin is offering the inexpensive Flight Stream product to display output via Bluetooth on tablets. Trig has some interesting products, too.

Still, for many owners, the point I was making is that even $5K won't entice them. It might not you, either, but it won't cost you $20,000 to get there.

Posted by: Paul Bertorelli | August 17, 2014 8:42 PM    Report this comment

Paul, it is my impression that you have the ultimate and most intimate connection with OEMs in the avionics industry. I trust your commentary. But why deflate Yars rough calculations without specifically delineating systems, their cost plus installation charges?

I agree with Thomas Yarsdley's figures and understanding of the problem. Sorry Paul, but I question your low ball assertion as presented. Please submit to us, your readers, worse and best cost estimates and equipment that you might choose to install in a typical aircraft, say a flight school's 1980 C172 with original nav/com equipment.

Posted by: Rafael Sierra | August 17, 2014 10:41 PM    Report this comment

All the FAA had to do was say that if you install ADS-B Out then you can remove your transponder. If they also deprecated 1090ES to remove that unnecessary bit of confusion and wrote the specs so you didn't need an FAA certified (aka really expensive) WAAS GPS to drive it then very little would have been needed as a stick to make pilots switch over. Some things are easy; the FAA chose to make this a problem.

Posted by: David Bridgham | August 17, 2014 11:21 PM    Report this comment


With a list price of $5,500 (and discounts available), the Freeflight box is an interesting de minimis compliance solution. Rather analogous to a blind encoder (in lieu of vastly more-expensive encoding altimeters).

I fear that I didn't make myself clear enough with regard to my "add another $20k" comments, which were aimed at the "magic box" value-added approach, rather than a 2020-compliance-only solution. My larger point is one with which I think you've agreed: some pilots will see little value in straight-up compliance. That's why I've suggested that a magic box solution MIGHT offer enough added value to cause a lot of those owners to shell out $10k plus installation for one comprehensive box that would completely re-define their instrument panel and avionics universe - while also ensuring 2020 compliance. [Raf wants new airframes; I want new instrument panels. Fair enough, but even new airframes need instrument panels. Multiple-six-figure solutions (a la G-1000 / 2000) just won't get any traction with Joe Sixpack -class airplane owners.]

From what the Dynon people told me, their $10K SkyView product (very nice, BTW) would require, and in fact is optimized for, interface with about $20K worth of Garmin hardware, to bring it into compliance with my "magic box" specification. There's probably a cheaper way to do it - I just am unaware of the specifics. I'll admit that I found it kind of odd that Dynon (who offers a very nice 1/2-size form-factor Com transceiver) doesn't offer a similar VOR/LOC/GS box. Maybe they think of those technologies as "old-think" stuff that's on its way out, so why bother chasing a dodo? The Dynon folks also offered that their native GPS stuff has WAAS capability, BUT... it is neither certified NOR is compliant with the WAAS performance specifications. A rules change could address the former, but only a hardware change can address the latter.

"When you go to the well, get a good drink" always has been good advice, and it's a big part of the justification for my magic box. Meanwhile, this a la carte ADS-B stuff comes in a vast variety of flavors, some of which frankly remind me too much of Jonestown Kool Aid. Caveat emptor and bon appetite, I guess.

Posted by: Thomas Yarsley | August 17, 2014 11:52 PM    Report this comment

The problem with user acceptance of the mandate is entirely and completely the fault of the FAA. Contrary to their complaints a while back that the cost of this equipment is "artificially reduced", it's actually artificially increased by the requirement for a TSO-compliant GPS. It takes what should be about a $150 piece of hardware (a GPS puck) and increases the cost 10-30 times for no discernable benefit. I understand if you want more accuracy for airliners getting sequenced at minimum spacing in IFR conditions on parallel runways at a big class B airport... but all the little guys at airports under the class B shelves don't need that!

Posted by: Bob Martin | August 18, 2014 5:25 AM    Report this comment

Thomas, there is a nav receiver on the market that will talk to the Dynon equipment at at very reasonable price. Look up the Val Nav 2000. I suspect Dynon hasn't made its own nav radio because the demand just wouldn't be there--most people making IFR panels are installing a big G all-in-one box that has those functions.

What I'd like to see is a no-frills approach-capable GPS; I don't need terrain or traffic or weather or com or anything else because my panel will have those functions already. Just give me the minimum required for the approach.

Posted by: Bob Martin | August 18, 2014 5:31 AM    Report this comment

The FreeFlight ADS-B, with the IN capability, offering is enticing. However, I'm guessing that by the time all the HW is bought and the thing is installed and operational it will cost $6000 or slightly more. And since I don't have an EFIS in the panel, and that would cost 10-20k to add, the ADS-B in will have to be used with an IPAD or other tablet.

One thing I can't understand is why a GPS that is certified for ADS-B cannot also be used to feed a moving map. Is there a technical reason that it's bit accurate enough for NAV or is it just that the certification needed is too expensive . It's kind of scary to think that is isn't accurate enough for NAV but perfectly fine for telling other planes where you are so they don't hit you.

At any rate, I went flying this weekend and it felt really good to get out. Now I read this and come crashing back to reality and I am thinking maybe I should be one of those people heading for the exit. Paul has really hit the nail on the head with this one. I hope it doesn't play out to the detriment of people like me and thousands of others on the fringe.

Posted by: steve egolf | August 18, 2014 6:59 AM    Report this comment

"I'm not predicting a mass exodus; I'm expecting a noticeable drift toward the exits." Another truism.

Posted by: Rafael Sierra | August 18, 2014 9:16 AM    Report this comment

Steve Egolf, for navigation, the GPS unit would require a database, processing algorithm, and a display unit. A WAAS GPS built into these ADS-B solutions like FreeFlight only broadcast position information which is just data bytes.

I also suspect there's an element of "added feature = added value = added cost" going on here too. Why pay more when you don't need it to meet the regulations? That said, most people would want to have a moving map GPS, which substantially increases ADS-B compliance if your airplane doesn't already have one.

Posted by: Amy Zucco | August 18, 2014 9:35 AM    Report this comment

"I'm not predicting a mass exodus; I'm expecting a noticeable drift toward the exits."

I've been seeing this first hand for the last 15 years: No waits at the self-service pumps, even on weekends; thinning ranks of "affordable" airplanes at the tie downs; shorter or no waiting lists for hangar space; many fewer new faces in the pilot lounge ... We all have been seeing the micro scale aspects of the dwindling interest in personal flying.

Paul has talked about the return on investment of time and money for the personal flyer many times of the last decade (e.g. when the ICON was first announced; in the context of LSAs, etc). That is the key: regulation, higher entry costs, higher costs to stay engaged, as well as the uncertainty around medical certification play together to not make GA "fun."

The reality is that many, if not most, personal flyers don't self-identify as "pilot" first ... it is a hobby or avocation, that they enjoy, but can take, leave, or substitute with another leisure time activity. Generally, that would be an activity without medical forms, and lots of ancillary government regulation (e.g. airworthiness directives; in what other sphere does an alphabet soup Federal agency get to decide on the cost/benefit ratio of a maintenance action on a privately owned vehicle, and pass the full, direct cost of complying with it to the individual owner? additionally with the regulatory teeth to make you do it or lose the ability to legally use your privately owned vehicle?)

The "drift to the exits" will continue until we are all building single seat experimentals in the garage. That is the future: The "haves" who use GA to satisify a travel mission and the "have nots" will learn to rivet.

Get ahead of the curve now: Join EAA and get a seat in the Sport Air Workshops before the deluge begins.


Posted by: George Kaplan | August 18, 2014 9:46 AM    Report this comment

ADS-B is in an interesting state of affairs. I think my personal situation is pretty typical:

My 1965 Cherokee 180c is ADS-B IN equipped (by way of my iPad, Foreflight, and a Stratus box strapped to the aft bulkhead). Total cost to do so was less than a grand, and the benefits are ENORMOUS (even as a VFR-only pilot, having weather, NOTAMs, TFRs, etc. available near-real-time in flight is a huge incentive).

For ADS-B out I will need to invest about $15,000 in hardware, plus installation in order to do it the way it should be done (at least in my opinion): with a panel-mount IFR GPS that gets me access to GPS approaches and the ability to file /G GPS Direct to most airports, and a Mode S+ES transponder that will let me fly to and from Canada if I ever decide to take a vacation up north. I also have no choice in the matter as my home base is under the New York Class B airspace: If I want to continue flying around here I will need to equip my aircraft to meet the mandate. The cost is not chump change to me - it's investing about 1/3 of the aircraft's value in avionics upgrades just to be able to keep flying, and it's something I had to think seriously about before I bought a plane (I knew the mandate was out there).

Where I may diverge from the "typical" is that the cost is not insurmountable: I'm a young guy, I make good money and don't have many other expenses, so therefore I'm fortunate enough to be able to afford to lavish extravagant care on the 50-year-old plane I adopted as my one expensive hobby. I also have a few years to save up for the project. I know quite a few other folks who do not have the financial ability to take on a project like this, and they are looking to take on partners to help shoulder the cost, or to sell their aircraft before the 2020 mandate hits. Many may return to renting, others may exit the aviation game entirely.

Posted by: Michael Graziano | August 18, 2014 9:50 AM    Report this comment

Bob, a used Garmin 400W (getting rare these days) is your no-frills approach GPS at around $3000 street price. It's a certified ADS-B source too.

The KT-74 or Trig TT series transponders all offer ADS-B out for $2600 or less. Your $6000 figure is about right but you can satisfy ADS-B out, get an old-tech moving map, and some traffic (TIS-A) for that price. Making panel space could increase the install cost but selling your old stuff should cover some of that.

Posted by: neil cormia | August 18, 2014 10:00 AM    Report this comment

The FAA and the purveyors of ADS-B out equipment have also been over-hyping the need. Unless you need to fly into busy airspace, above 10,000 ft or within a Class B 30 mile veil; you don't need it. This means that many, if not most, recreational type pilots could, with a small change in course and fuel stops, never really need the gear for VFR operations. I suspect that many are realizing this and going to adjust their operations accordingly.

Posted by: Stephen Phoenix | August 18, 2014 10:22 AM    Report this comment

Generically, the price bottom of the ADS-B Out market is likely to be 1090ES transponders. Trig has the TT-21 at $2500. If you have a GPS source, it'll probably install for $3500 to $4000. Double that if you buy Trig's GPS source. Trig doesn't have wide STCs and AMLs yet, but that'll come.

A GDL88 without GPS installs for about $5500 to $6500, with onboard GPS for $7000. You could probably install a new GTN650 and still not hit $20K. Many owners are, in fact, doing this. But they're the early adopters to whom price doesn't really matter.

It's the great unwashed middle that cares about price. Take the owner of a 1976 Piper Archer with the panel upgraded to a GNS430 and a KX155. There are a lot of such airplanes in the fleet. The value is between $40,000 and $45,000. So the $7000 ADS-B upgrade represents 15 to 18 percent of the airframe value. And that's with no display for the ADS-B In.

So if the owner is flying 20 or 30 hours a year, as many are these days, the value proposition is hard to sell. That's the point I was trying to make. For many owners, it will be unsaleable. That's why it's more difficult for them than for the owner of a 15-year-old Ovation who's upgrading now.

Posted by: Paul Bertorelli | August 18, 2014 10:29 AM    Report this comment

"Bob, a used Garmin 400W (getting rare these days) is your no-frills approach GPS at around $3000 street price. It's a certified ADS-B source too."

The problem here is "getting rare these days". By the time I'm ready to invest in avionics for my RV-7 (2018 or so) a 400W may well be hard to find--they don't appear to be in production any more, and if it breaks I might not be able to get an affordable replacement. They've been discontinued because Garmin wants to push people to newer, fancier, more profitable "all-in-one" boxes--which, granted, are a good value for an older steam-gauge airplane, but they're overkill for a modern EFIS-equipped homebuilt since all the fancy features are built into the EFIS, and on a larger display screen to boot.

A non-TSO'd GPS source for ADSB-out (which is acceptable until 12/31/19) ought to be acceptable for VFR operation past 2020. Leave the TSO position source to IFR operations, where the aircraft will be more likely to be properly equipped and precise non-visual separation matters much more.

Posted by: Bob Martin | August 18, 2014 11:10 AM    Report this comment

I keep my 1947 Cessna 140 hangared under the shelf of Class B airspace (OHare) and within the 30 nm Mode C veil. ADS-B for me is not an option if I want to keep flying my airplane.

Fortunately (or unfortunately depending on how you look at it) my KT76A transponder just took a nose dive so I invested $2500 for a KT74 Mode 'S' transponder in anticipation of installing ADS-B 'out' in my aircraft come 2020....but I'm not at all happy about it. Why the Feds couldn't just prohibit operations for our aircraft from actually entering A,B or C airspace without ADS-B beyond me. If I had a nearly identical Cessna 120 or a similar non-electric airplane instead I wouldn't have to go through this nonsense. So what the heck!?!?!?!?!?

It's not just the money...finding a spot on my near original instrument panel for this hardware is going to be a real issue.

In the end, what exactly have we accomplished? Not a whole lot as far as I am concerned. We'll just have more and more people looking at computer displays and turning knobs in VFR conditions rather than looking outside the airplane.

Posted by: Michael Pastore | August 18, 2014 11:20 AM    Report this comment

I am an aircraft owner who was pissed about the mandate and dubious about the benefits. I live in the west where we were the last to get coverage. I used XM weather previously and decided to "bite the bullet" and install ADS-B after seeing a promotion from Freeflight Systems. I figured I might as well enjoy the benefits now rather than later if I have to purchase anyway. I have a panel mounted GPS, but it isn't WAAS. The promotion was for ADS-B in and out without having to replace my existing transponder. Included was the required WAAS GPS and WiFi (for transmitting WX and traffic to my iPad). The system discount was $1495. So cost after equipment and the installation was $6500. Far less than the $20,000 that most were predicting. Now that isn't cheap, but after using it on several trips, I am impressed. Especially with the traffic. Weather is always nice but even in the mountains here in Montana I'm getting excellent traffic information. So while I'm not happy with these Government regulations, this was less painful than I imagined it would be.

Posted by: Robin Hill | August 18, 2014 11:26 AM    Report this comment

Mr. Phoenix, I think you underestimate how many people are affected by the 30-mile veil, "busy airspace", and 0,000ft+ operation. In fact, I'm willing to bet that at least 40% of the single-engine GA fleet owned by individuals is based at a Class C or D airport, or at an airport within the Mode C veil. For them, there is no option--they can't reroute or change their flight paths; they can't take off at all under the ADS-B out mandate without equipping.

I grew up flying out of an airport in the Atlanta Mode C veil. That airport, and many others also in that veil, have very active recreational GA populations. Most of those aircraft rarely if ever operate IFR. But *all* of them will get hit with the ADS-B mandate. Just under 10,000ft, that's about 4800 cubic miles of airspace shut down to everyone who doesn't cough up thousands of dollars for a fancy box that doesn't give them one bit of extra capability, or performance, or anything else other than regulatory compliance.

Unfortunately, too many people in Washington don't really get it. To them, a "little airplane" is the King Air parked on the other side of the airport from the airliner they flew in on.

Posted by: Bob Martin | August 18, 2014 11:52 AM    Report this comment

I think the other viewpoint is that ATC is getting congested in the metropolitan airport structures, and something needs to be done in the future, to better use the airspace. It never fails, I am 70 miles out from the airport in a King Air 250, and they want me @ 7,000 feet! Fuel burn up, speed down.

If this is a "free flight" type technology, whereby the airplane can be directed through the airspace without having the canned arrival system, for me, it will pay for itself in a short period of time.

What I would be banking on, is that the pricing continues to go down and as the engineering gets micro-chips and software figured out, I expect the cost to continue to decline...or perhaps someone will figure out an easier way to do this through the existing avionics already installed.

If you recall, when Mode C was made mandatory, it was a $1,500 minimum cost to get the output for altitude sent. It didn't take long before a manufacturer introduced the $300 solution. As we become more precise and collision avoidance being a big deal, I see the technology requirement as an inevitable solution.

The cost of WAAS and the GPS approaches has made the utility value of the airplane worth it. I have done approaches down to 300' using only GPS WAAS, and it is a beautiful solution to what was available prior to this technology. In fact, I like the WAAS GPS approach better than the ILS, because the course does not fan out as an ILS does, it is consistent throughout the inbound course for it's width.

Of course, as a disclaimer I am not the one who pays the bills for the upgrades :)

Posted by: Michael Dempsey | August 18, 2014 11:54 AM    Report this comment

"Take the owner of a 1976 Piper Archer with the panel upgraded to a GNS430 and a KX155. There are a lot of such airplanes in the fleet. The value is between $40,000 and $45,000. So the $7000 ADS-B upgrade represents 15 to 18 percent of the airframe value. And that's with no display for the ADS-B In. "

I was under the impression that the 430W could accept ADS-B In traffic and weather data.

Posted by: Gary Baluha | August 18, 2014 3:07 PM    Report this comment

A quick pirep, I just took the dive on a GDL-88 and, despite a few install hiccups, has been a great investment. I routinely fly my TR182 in congested airspace and the always on traffic is worth every penny. I was fortunate to already have a 430W in the panel so my price point was right at the $5500 mentioned above. I couple it with a GDL-39 and IPAD with fantastic results. I do disagree with the statement that the (continuous) traffic is not worth that level of investment for flying in dense/congested airspace. ATC appreciates it as well. For those without the panel capability and need I echo the wait notion until 2017-2018 for cheaper integrated solutions.

Posted by: James Hayes | August 18, 2014 3:18 PM    Report this comment

Gary Baluha, no. It may be able to consume TIS data in conjunction with a Mode S transponder, but on its own, 430W does not offer ADS-B In capabilities. It is a component that is required (WAAS GPS) as part of the ADS-B Out solution.

Posted by: Amy Zucco | August 18, 2014 3:20 PM    Report this comment

You can fly an entire VFR career in Maine and go most everywhere worth going without a transponder. This is true throughout much of the United States. This isn't much consolation to folks based in a mode C veil or within Class C airspace, but it's a point that is not made very often. I avail myself of flight following whenever possible, but it's not likely I'll quit flying if I can't get it. If I decide to get a more expensive airplane, the cost of ADS-B will seem less onerous, if no less objectionable. Lastly, unless I was contemplating selling my IFR airplane I would not install ADS-B until the last minute. Gluts do not materialize commensurately with their anticipation, history tells us, and the price of technology tends to decline with its adoption.

Posted by: Jerry Fraser | August 18, 2014 3:24 PM    Report this comment

Gary -

"I was under the impression that the 430W could accept ADS-B In traffic and weather data."

I've been researching this stuff for my partner's airplane. I spent some time talking to all the ADS-B vendors I could find at Air Venture, and the consensus I get is that with the exception of a GDL-88, you will get traffic but not weather on a 430W. TIS-B is an open protocol and they all claim to send it to the 430. However, Garmin's weather protocol is proprietary, so the only device that will send it to the 430 is Garmin's GDL-88.

- Andy

Posted by: Andy Goldstein | August 18, 2014 4:27 PM    Report this comment

Well written article. I own an approx $50'000 retract and am 57 yrs old. I sure don't want to put 20% of the value of the airframe into boxes that are mostly for airlines and FAA use. I also expect whatever fuel we are forced to use will be well over $8 per gallon, so I may not be flying in 6 years. But I blame industry and FAA equally, with a bit of blame left for our flying organizations. My iPhone has a GPS chip in it that is never more than 50 feet off. Why require a $1500 TSO chip (free-flights price) of no real benefit. And, come on, avionics manufacturers. These are not sophisticated units, in the context of electronics. Why the outrageous prices?

Posted by: LeWayne Garrison | August 18, 2014 4:28 PM    Report this comment

Amy, the GNS430W does display both TIS-B and FIS-B, according to Garmin's web site. The older GNS430 non-WAAS boxes do not, far as I know. In any case, they won't serve as the position source. The example I used was the older model.

Posted by: Paul Bertorelli | August 18, 2014 4:28 PM    Report this comment

Well written article. I think you are very perceptive. I am 52 yrs old, my airplane is 48 years old. The prospect of dropping $5000+ of avionics into a $30,000 airplane that I fly less than 100 hours a year has pushed me over the line and I've decided to sell my Beech Musketeer.

Posted by: Ed Rutherford | August 18, 2014 4:37 PM    Report this comment

I expect smaller and cheaper ADS-B units will be made for drones. Experimental aircraft can use the cheaper drone units.

Posted by: Bill Berson | August 18, 2014 5:22 PM    Report this comment

Paul, there are a number of us owners of Garmin G1000-equipped aircraft that are neither pissed nor confused -- but can't implement ADS-B Out today even if we're willing to pull out our checkbooks.

The reality is that Garmin hasn't written the software necessary for the G1000 to communicate with either the GTX33ES transponder (for 1090ES) or GDL-88 (for UAT) or any other product that we can install in our certified aircraft. This was confirmed by Garmin at Oshkosh/AirVenture.

Once Garmin finally gets around to this (Step 1), then we'll have to wait on our aircraft manufacturer (Cessna, Piper, Beech, Diamond, etc.) to offer the requisite ADS-B Out Gamin products as certified solutions that we can legally install (Step 2).

FYI, according to Garmin there are 12,500 G1000-equipped aircraft that can't comply with the FAA's 2020 mandate.

Posted by: Dave Passmore | August 18, 2014 6:11 PM    Report this comment

Owners have for years maintained Mode C transponders for aircraft located within the 30 NM veil of Class B airports. But from 2020 their aircrafts will be grounded unless we invest thousands of dollars for no gain. The FAA mandate will also prevent thousands of GA aircrafts equipped with Mode C transponders to enter the 30 miles Mode C radius of Class B airports. For me it will mean no more happy fly-ins to airports near Los Angeles and San Francisco, which are homes to a wealth of vintage aircrafts, and no more scenic tours around SFO Class B airspace and see the Golden Gate from the air. This is just in California. There are many other GA airports across the US within a 30 miles Mode C radius, which frequently arrange fly-ins. From 2020 these events will be drastically reduced. Our freedom to fly will be cut back and GA in general will suffer greatly.

Too many owners like me are baby boomers from the late 1940's, who are now retired and cannot afford any new installation of digital ES transponder in excess of $5000, or even worse, the additional cost of $7000-9000 WAAS equipped GPS radios. I am sure that many fellow aviators are in the same unbearable situation. Too many wonderful aircraft and their proud owners will be unable to continue being flying ambassadors for GA, EAA and AOPA.

Safety is important and ADS-B is the right step for commercial aviation. But for small GA recreational aircraft, it is very expensive and will not make any measurable reduction of typical accident statistics. And the ADS-B equipment is not replacing the old transponders. We will still have to keep and maintain the existing transponders for back up for an unknown numbers of years. I think FAA should accept that small VFR aircraft which are already equipped with required Mode C transponders may enter the 30 miles radius from typical Class B airports, but stay out of busy Class B space which we don't want to do anyway. When the radar equipment is finally retired sometime after 2020 there might be cheaper ADS-B solutions or similar portable equipment on the market that FAA can accept, a thing that the 2020-mandate has excluded.

Posted by: Carl-Erik Olsen | August 18, 2014 6:35 PM    Report this comment

Folks, the issue isn't the cost of the hardware itself. A non-TSO WAAS-capable GPS receiver (like Dynon has) is only $250 or so--and that includes the antenna and its pigtail. The overwhelming majority of the cost of TSO units is driven soley by the FAA's exhaustive and excessive certification processes. Don't go laying blame on the manufacturers--this one is the FAA's fault. They're urinating on our backs and telling us it's raining.

Posted by: Bob Martin | August 18, 2014 6:59 PM    Report this comment

Bob, GREAT analogy.

At the Airventure "Meet the Boss" Forum on Thursday, I asked the Administrator about the establishment of the Primary - non commercial special airworthiness category discussed within the FAR Part 23 re-write. If this were passed, we'd be able to install Dynon equipment in our certificated airplanes and might even be happy about the expenditure given the increased capability. Sorry to report but ... Jack Pelton grabbed the mike and said something like "that (the PNC idea) hit the cutting room floor. Mr. Huerta never answered ... likely because he doesn't know anything about it. Later, however, I saw a YouTube video where Huerta was AT the Dynon booth looking at their gear.

I don't get it? If the FAA were so worried about safety, why wouldn't they allow wonderful appropriately priced equipment in our airplanes as long as we aren't using them in IFR? NUTTY !!

There's no reason whatever why a Garmin 795/796 couldn't output WAAS GPS data to a Mode S ES transponder ... something like the TT22 or TT31. At that point, a conversion to ADS-B out would cost only $4K. Add a GDL-39 and you'd have ADS-B out AND in for the requisite $5K. But NO ... the FAA says you can't use the 795/6. Again ... NUTTY !

Posted by: Larry Stencel | August 18, 2014 7:41 PM    Report this comment

Except for my 65 hp open cockpit non electrical system toy, flying will be over for me. Goodby, Turbo Arrow, I will miss you. I seriously doubt that flying safety will be improved. Sounds like collusion between the FAA and the Airlines to reduce traffic some, but not much, around busy airports. I usually support the FAA, but not on this one.

Posted by: James Hodges | August 18, 2014 8:12 PM    Report this comment

A very well-written article that looks at one big issue, but not the only big issue, spurring the decline of GA. The demise has been underway for may years, this is just hastening it. Nationwide, GA airport ops have been declining sharply for years, and the number of aviation businesses at all levels is way down as well. Flight rates are down and pilot numbers are stagnant. I've been actively flying since 1967 and an airplane owner (or partner-owner) since 1969. Every cost I pay as a GA participant has risen faster than my ability to pay it. In 1969 I was sole owner of a 1948 Beech Bonanza and flew 200+ hrs/yr on my own employed nickel, without too much strain. Gas was cheap, hangars were cheap, parts were reasonable, service was plentiful and reasonable, and the government owned and operated the nav infrastructure (radar, VOR and NDB.) When I upgraded the nav/coms and got my IFR rating I could fly an ILS to 200 and 1/2 if I needed to at any airport so equipped. Now I'm retired from an excellent career and a 1/4 owner of a 1960 Beech Travel Air, an economical airplane that has met our family's needs for over 20 years. We do virtually all our own maintenance work, hangar rents rival a home mortgage in cost, fuel is nearly $7/gal, parts are extreme (when available) and I couldn't even use an IFR GPS without paying $300+/yr for an approved database. I really struggle to fly 50 hrs/yr and the FAA is moving the nav infrastructure into the cockpit by requiring owners to buy all the equipment (to their specs.) For us, the cost to update panel space would be huge before we even think about putting in the new boxes. I like the capabilities the new avionics offer very much but along with all the other longstanding dings I simply can't afford it. For now I'm using ipad apps very nicely but I suspect my partners and I will just fade out of flying because we're being priced out. Sad too, because the U.S. was the poster child for true general aviation around the world through the 1970's but the average pilot has been steadily choked out ever since.

Posted by: Rick Lentz | August 18, 2014 9:27 PM    Report this comment

Rick Lentz, I agree, thanks.

Posted by: Rafael Sierra | August 18, 2014 10:29 PM    Report this comment

"Get ahead of the curve now: Join EAA and get a seat in the Sport Air Workshops before the deluge begins."

George, I just got back from my first EAA chapter meeting tonight. You may be on to something

Posted by: Juan Dickerson | August 18, 2014 10:37 PM    Report this comment

Does It Sharpen the Have and Have Not of Aviation? YES, and you stated this well. Thanks.

An aircraft constructed without and not modified to have an electrical system is exempt from ADS-B out for most airspace. Electrical system includes (present day) both generating unit and electric starter. Battery-powered and solar charging equipment could mean no generating unit required. Non-electric starter (or no starter) could also meet the present definition of "no electrical system." Food for thought while equipping aircraft this next six years.

Posted by: Michael Muetzel | August 19, 2014 7:43 AM    Report this comment

p.s. i first became aware of this stuff in the late 80's when we had a couple cars and a van driving around the Fallon ranges with transponders and interrogation sites on three hilltops feeding Commodore 64's. their proposal was a private/public partnership to eliminate ground-based ATC radar and navaids, using the soon-to-be-replaced NASA computers. EVERY air vehicle would be registered, EVERY one would carry a self-powered satellite-keyed transponder the size of a cigarette package (provided from general FAA funds) with a discrete electronic ID. No services with the "free" unit, but here's the profit point - want wx in? buy this. want IFR? buy this. Want route planning? buy well you get the idea. VMC outside Class B? you got it. extra desires? extra costs. never heard of it again, wonder what killed it? were those NASA computers ever replaced?

Posted by: Michael Muetzel | August 19, 2014 7:58 AM    Report this comment

All of the above plus privacy issues along with the possibility of preparing the field for the Next-Gen of User-Fee identification. Next requirement, credit card on file.

Posted by: Rafael Sierra | August 19, 2014 8:22 AM    Report this comment


The Government can--

- Reduce the purchase price of ADS-B avionics equipment by subsidizing the nonrecurring manufacturing costs . - Pay for the certification, purchase, and installation of the equipment.

- Provide a grant for the equipment.

- Provide an investment tax credit.

- Provide adjustments to the existing aviation excise tax rate.

- Encourage market competition through research and development tax credits specifically targeted at ADS-B avionics development.

- Reduce landing/overflight fees for ADS-B-equipped aircraft.

- Reduce or waive registration fees.

- Provide a fuel tax break for equipped aircraft.

- Provide interest-free loans for equipage that are paid back when benefits are accrued.

- Provide a voucher to GA operators for equipment and installation.

Posted by: Rafael Sierra | August 19, 2014 8:28 AM    Report this comment

Count me in in the P.O.'d category. I can't think of a single benefit to ADS-B that couldn't be accomplished with existing technologies. The much ballyhooed constant decent profile (gliding in) is really just an RNAV approach that starts at higher altitudes. In-flight weather is available from XM. Traffic is available from L3, Garmin, Avidyne, etc. Let's not forget that the FAA dumped the previous "free" traffic awareness system, stranding a lot of expensive investment. Primary radar is never going away for the simple reason that it's needed for defense, drug smuggling interdiction, homeland security, etc. The difference between 1 second vs. 5 second scan rates are not significant. Both would be impossibly long if controllers actually "controlled" airplanes, however on-board pilots and avionics actually fly the plane and controllers work in much slower time domains.

Finally, please stop the "haves vs. have-not" theme. No one likes wasting thousands of dollars with no benefit in return. I can think of a lot of alternative uses for that money (maybe college tuition, or a great vacation, or a whole lot of avgas)

Posted by: Phil Ryder | August 19, 2014 9:34 AM    Report this comment

I have been on the fence about selling the airplane and quitting flying for a couple years now. This ADS-B thing might be the straw that breaks the camels back.

My Beech Sundowner is worth maybe $40K. To get ADS-B out I would have to replace the transponder with say a Trig, or the King equivalent ( which is also made by Trig ), and upgrade by GNS430 to a GNS430W. $2500 for the Trig, which is a slide-in replacement for the KT76A, and another $3K to Garmin to upgrade the 430. Plus $$$ to an avionics shop to add the wires to get the GPS position to the Trig, and replace the GPS antenna with a WAAS one.

This solution is only available if and when Garmin gets the 430W specifically certified to perform with the Trig.

... Or I might just sell the airplane for whatever kopeks I can get for it....

Posted by: Jerome Kaidor | August 19, 2014 11:31 AM    Report this comment

If I were to be in the "haves" I would have all the avionic candy, fastest and cleanest aircraft and room service on board. But I am not, and I would estimate, that neither is the majority of what is left of the recreational and flight instruction lot. ADS-B is another expense serving as a disincentive for the "old guys" to continue and added cost down the line for new-starts to confront. Assuming that the industry wants to survive and grow in numbers from the ground up then I would think that all of us would cooperate to revitalize the industry. It is a COST thing, solve for COST and the rest would follow. (I don't want to hear about VALUE)

Posted by: Rafael Sierra | August 19, 2014 1:19 PM    Report this comment

Somewhere between P.O'ed and hopeless resignation is where I land. I'm in the "middle" category that may be forced out. Oh well, it was a good ride for 40 years or so.

From 3rd class medicals to PNC category to sleep apnea to the size of hangar refrigerators, I just find it lamentable that the powers that be could (if they tried) actually help make things BETTER for the flying public (in numerous ways), but instead seem to use every opportunity to punish general aviation into oblivion. Just think what they could do if they actually worked to IMPROVE GA in these United States?

Rafael mentioned something that is insidiously creeping into the picture and often overlooked; and that is user fees. Just think about it, with ADS-B out, every second of every flight will be recorded in 3-D and monitored in a server somewhere linked to your account number. All it takes is a few lines of code, and voila! a new billing system is created based on hours flown, miles flown, areas flown (congested area surcharges) and on and on and on. Much of this could be quickly implemented by administrative decree, after all the "users" are already "using" government resources and therefore they must be billed for it. And, may heaven help you if you unintentionally and accidentally bust any airspace regulation by even one foot, automatic violations will go out by email or text to the responsible party.

Posted by: A Richie | August 19, 2014 1:37 PM    Report this comment

I suspect, given the pace of electronics and software development, that by the time 2020 arrives a sub-$2K solution will be available provided it does not have be TSOed under current rules or is being used for IFR navigation. The FAA could follow a path similar to the AOA add-on for certified aircraft by creating a simplified qualification standard, especially on a GPS source not being used for IFR navigation. Just look at the advances in iPad apps like Wing-X in the past five years if you want to see evidence of the technology trend. A nice little ADS-B box with integrated GPS and Bluetooth would make a simple refit, basically tapping into power and adding external antennas.

I cannot see why a $2K fix would drive anyone out of avaition, those folks already left when they got the bill for a typical engine repair or the annual. Spending $20K+ on a 30+ year old certified IFR aircraft may be another stroy, but it does not have to the be the only answer. Will the FAA extend the compliance deadline; of course they will.

Posted by: John Salak | August 19, 2014 4:01 PM    Report this comment

I think everyone is thinking of where the airspace IS right now, Class B umbrella, Class C etc. and not thinking of what the airspace will look like in the future years. Congress and various non aviation industries are hard over on UAVs, not to mention law enforcement and other governmental agencies. There are going to be demands upon our airspace and demands upon us sharing our airspace that are going to be very challenging in the next 10 years. I actually applaud the FAA for coming up with the 978mhz scheme because I don't think with UAVs and the ignorant that will be operating them, we are going to enjoy the kind of airspace we have now. Even if you don't fly near Class B or C, even if you don't have an electrical system, I think in a few years you are going to want at least an Ipad ADS-B in traffic solution on your flight deck.

Posted by: Gregory West | August 19, 2014 8:00 PM    Report this comment

Larry Stencel,

Can you please elaborate a bit more on this?

"Sorry to report but ... Jack Pelton grabbed the mike and said something like "that (the PNC idea) hit the cutting room floor. Mr. Huerta never answered ... likely because he doesn't know anything about it."

This is a most distressing report. I was under the impression that Congress directed the FAA to enact the rewrite-committee's report into regulation wholesale, and the Primary Non Commercial part was by far the most immediately influential part of that entire proposal. (Although the actual language of HR 1848 left FAA wiggle room in only satisfying the "objectives" of the report.)

I think it's time to step up pressure on AOPA, who's been pretty quiet on the entire Part23 rewrite issue.

Frankly pilots/owners themselves need to get educated more. My informal poll of folks at my airport revealed a <10% awareness of the contents of the report, as well as the passage of SARA in 2013. Here's a link, as a public service:

Posted by: Dan Chang | August 20, 2014 12:30 AM    Report this comment

A lot of different cost figures are being bandied about, from $4K to $20K. But if you have a transponder that can be modified to an "extended squitter" unit, the cost is very manageable. There is s problem however with a group of late model Saratoga owners with G1000 avionics. Piper has refused to support the units with updated software. For around $1,200 the GTX-33 in my 2007 Saratoga can be modified to be a GTX-33ES for extended squitter, thus fulfilling the FAA mandate for ADS-B. The problem is the G1000 requires a software update that Piper will not allow. If you are planning on purchasing a Piper product with a G1000 aboard, be very very careful about the suport agreement. Piper has put it to 30 some 2007 Saratoga owners, not just for ADS-B.

Posted by: Stephen Wilcoxson | August 20, 2014 9:43 AM    Report this comment

I plan to sell my 2 seat light sport before 2020 when I will be 68 years old. Do not plan to equip with ADS-B. Probably buy a larger sailboat.

Posted by: John Schussler | August 20, 2014 9:48 AM    Report this comment

Government and their mandates. They really do seem to be out to punish regular folks like me. I'm with Paul. I think this mandate will be as fixed as the Obamacare debacle. Someone will write an executive order and suddenly the mandate will be postponed for a privileged few. I am now having a heightened interest in airplanes(certified or experimental) without engine driven electrics.


Posted by: Andre Abreu | August 20, 2014 10:00 AM    Report this comment

"GAMA for instance, are saying they're worried that if owners procrastinate on this, there won't be enough capacity to install the thousands of ADS-B systems required." GAMA should be more into promoting new-starts and into revitalizing the industry so that their members can sell more stuff rather than going along with the decline factors (i.e., ADS-B equipage) and trying to grab as much as they can on their way down.

Posted by: Rafael Sierra | August 20, 2014 11:18 AM    Report this comment

Rafael, this is prime for an open-sourced, certified hardware and firmware/API reference design released under a public license.

Posted by: Sam Strohl | August 20, 2014 11:26 AM    Report this comment

I own a 1968 Piper PA28-180 and I had been wrestling with ADS-B equipage options for a while before I finally decided to pull the trigger and have a Garmin GDL 88 installed. A year ago I decided it was time to start upgrading my panel since I had a couple of aging Narco MK-12D's so I had a Garmin 430W installed, along with a GPSS converter for my S-Tec autopilot. Adding the GDL 88 was one of the best decisions I made.

Let's face it. Owning an aircraft is expensive. It will always be expensive. But every so often we need to make investments into our aircraft and avionics are always a big investment.

Now that I am ADS-B equipped I wonder how I ever flew without having traffic targets painted on the Garmin 430W right in front of my face. I used the Tablet/portable ADS-B receiver solution for a while, but I found that to be cumbersome. There is not a lot of room in a Cherokee and having to look down at a tablet is clumsy compared to having everything in one neat screen built into the panel.

I've read all the discussions and arguments about the mandate to equip, and I understand frustration with having to reach a mandate. But flying has always been saddled with mandates. You need a license to fly. You need a certified A&P to work on (or at least sign off work on) your airplane. You need to communicate with ATC in some airspace. You need to have a mode C transponder in certain airspace. The list goes on. But we knew that when we got into flying (and ownership) and we accepted these conditions because they enable us to fly with great safety and considerable utility.

So I say let's stop complaining about ADS-B mandates and let's start recognizing ADS-B as a very positive step forward in general aviation. Having traffic and weather delivered straight to the cockpit is great. I feel much safer having this info and I think once everyone has gotten over the initial cost of equipping that we will all forget our objections and will be happy with the fact that we don't always need to call for flight following because we can see all the "targets" surround our airplanes with better accuracy than hearing a busy controller riddle off "N12345 traffic 2 O'clock, 2 miles, SW bound, altitude indicates 4500".

Posted by: Daniel Torres | August 20, 2014 11:44 AM    Report this comment

It's the "mandate" that makes this an issue. If all I ever do is go out on a sunny day and fly around the pattern or 60 miles for an airport meal what good is ADS-B to me?

I don't think anyone would be complaining if it was optional.

Posted by: steve egolf | August 20, 2014 2:01 PM    Report this comment

Daniel Torres; The problem is "The list goes on."As the "list" continues to go on the COST of flying continues to grow. My aircraft's ADS-B compliance cost was $1300 but I spent over $16k on a GNS430W receiver and GTX330 transponder before the upgrade. Traffic and weather can be out of iPads or iPhones via Foreflight or some other app but I'd not be reserved as I'd call for "flight following", at least here in SOCAL.

Lastly, our complaints are justifiable and pragmatically constructive, not to be confused with senseless and chronic bitching.

Posted by: Rafael Sierra | August 20, 2014 4:05 PM    Report this comment

Simply putting a 2500 foot AGl floor on the 30 mile veil for the ADS-B requirement solve a lot of problems with no decrease in safety. You would still need a class C transponder and won't radar still exist at class B terminal airports?

Posted by: ARTHUR THOMPSON | August 20, 2014 4:24 PM    Report this comment

I think Daniel has it right. After people get the equipment, they are going to like it. It will be a slower process than what the FAA might like, but eventually we'll all get there; just like back in the transponder early days. I would also expect that eventually ADS-B equipment will be required everywhere, not just in the limited areas that are now in the works. Why? How do you think the drones are going to spot traffic?

Posted by: Stephen Phoenix | August 20, 2014 5:46 PM    Report this comment

"How do you think the drones are going to spot traffic?" With any luck at all, they will employ technologies that are independent of and more reliable than ADS-B.

Daniel Torres seems to be very happy with the results of his ADS-B upgrades. I'd like to ask him to please share what it cost him to yank out his Narcos and install the G-430-W and the GPSS converter for the S-Tec, PLUS the later installation of the GDL-88. Bottom line. Thanks.

Posted by: Thomas Yarsley | August 20, 2014 6:11 PM    Report this comment

There are a lot of things that the FAA could do that would enhance the attractiveness and boost the vitality of General Aviation, without compromising safety.

1) Eliminate the Third Class Medical entirely. 2) Allow experimental avionics to be installed in non-commercial light aircraft. 3) Alter the ADS-B mandate to make it cheaper to comply for noncommercial aircraft (for instance, by allowing non-TSO'd WAAS-capable GPS as the position source.) 4) Shrink the allowed size and duration of presidential TFR's to something more reasonable

I would argue that each of these actions would have no adverse affect on safety, and might actually increase safety of flight operations. It is undeniable that they would boost the level of activity in GA.

However, there's a problem in that all of these actions have one thing in common: they decrease the authority of the federal government over the actions of private aircraft owner/operators. Because of this, those who have authority to make rules find themselves almost constitutionally unable to relax their grip, and pass these liberalizations that would actually improve safety and help reinvigorate GA. Those few within FAA who "get it" and want to relax the death-grip of the agency find themselves out-voted by the common crowd inside the bureaucracy, who cannot conceive that less regulation is a safety-enhancing approach.

This kind of logjam is best broken by legislative action to curb the excesses of the bureaucracy. For this reason, I would encourage every reader of this article to support the GA Pilot Protection Act, which would at least accomplish the complete elimination of the the Third Class Medical. This would be a good step in the right direction toward deregulating and thereby reinvigorating the GA industry. Another piece of legislative action to support is Jim Inhofe's Pilots' Bill of RIghts 2.

I agree with Paul that the cost burden is driving lots of people out of flying. We are being bled to death a little at a time. If we don't do something to stop the trend, we'll wind up like Europe. We shouldn't allow this to happen to the U.S.!

Regulation hurts GA; lets get rid of all forms of regulation that we can. Unfortunately, we cannot count on FAA to do this on their own. It will have to be accomplished through law.

Posted by: John Wilson | August 23, 2014 10:49 AM    Report this comment

I fly an older Glasair. The airframe is insured for $55k. It's IFR capable, though I am not. The most modern equipment in the panel is the Garmin 300XL, still being supported by Garmin, and the auto pilot. Of the 120 or so planes on the uncontrolled field I'm based at, my Glasair is one of the top ten or so in modernity of the panel. Lots of them carry handheld GPS's, but not many panels are so equipped.

I fly around 75 hours a year, most of them cross country flights of one to two hours. Of those, half a dozen flights a year go into or over Charlie or Bravo airspace. And while I go above 10,000 feet more often than that, it's just for my comfort. I can get where I'm going at 8500 or 9500 just as easily.

The cost to upgrade the panel to meet the ADS-B requirement is somewhere between 15k and 20k for new equipment, somewhat less but still over 12k for used equipment. At that cost, I'll skip the Charlie and Bravo airports and just go around for those half dozen flights year. I'll stay below 10k. And I'm pretty sure more than 90% of the pilots at my field think the same thing. Most of them never go near the Charlie and Bravo anyway.

If the cost to equipment comes way down, I'll reconsider. But right now it doesn't make any sense to do so.

Posted by: Richard Persons | August 31, 2014 2:07 PM    Report this comment

I have already made my decision! December 2019 is my last year of flying. My dream boat will appear and off into lakes and rivers I go. Will cost less, no worries of getting shot down by a drone, no worries of mid air collision because of eyes on glass flying only, and the best one, I will never ever get on a flying buss as these pilots are being trained in a simulator now and have no idea what to do in the event of electronic failure. True Story!

Posted by: Joeseph Gawlikowski: JoesPiper | September 14, 2014 10:03 PM    Report this comment

I feel so sorry for all the small VFR aircraft within "Mode C" It's a shame when airlines could care less about aircraft 1500 - 2000 feet AGL.

Posted by: Joeseph Gawlikowski: JoesPiper | September 14, 2014 10:06 PM    Report this comment

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