No, ADS-B Isn't Being Delayed

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When I was a young newspaper reporter and just reaching into opinion and commentary writing, it was understood there were certain things you never joked about. One was religion, another was a guy’s wife or a woman’s husband and anything to do with violent crimes was similarly off-limits. I’m adding a new sacred cow: No jokes about ADS-B.

No, not seriously, but after Sunday’s April Fools gag piece about the FAA slipping the ADS-B mandate 20 years, some ‘splaining is due. April Fools jokes sort into three broad categories: the patently silly, the semi-plausible and the deviously deceptive. Judging by the steady patter of email, readers slotted the spoof story into all three categories dependent upon personal predilection. I thought it to be semi-plausible.

“What a hoot. I had to click just to see what was at the end of the line of the April Fools' joke. Orson Wells ... remember the ‘War of the Worlds’ broadcast of Oct 30th, 1938? ... has nothing on you,” wrote Jim Holdeman. But others were clearly unamused. “Hey idiot!” wrote one ticked-off reader, “I really thought AVweb was a good thing until the sick joke about the ADS-B extension. Bye and good riddance!” One sharp-eyed reader noted that the wrong picture was used in the story, an illustration of the SDI system, with missiles sailing through space from the USSR. I thought that a good clue that the story was a spoof, but it looked too much like a real ADS-B graphic to be noticeable. An FAA staffer wrote me to say he found the story hilarious, but could I please sorta publish a follow-up to tamp things down? Their phones were getting a little busy.

Bottom line, if you were taken in by the gag and chuckled or you weren’t taken in and chuckled, I’m glad you enjoyed it. If you were or weren’t taken in and you’re steamed about it, please accept my humble apologies. A fool is the editor who intentionally riles up his readers and I certainly didn’t intend to do that. My only weak defense is that if it weren’t for black humor, I’d have no humor at all.  

Inadvertently, in publishing the story, I discovered something interesting. All of us who cover this field know there’s a pool of frustration and anger over ADS-B. Some view it as an existential threat to their personal freedom to fly, while others see the entire program as a multibillion-dollar boondoggle wasting their personal and tax dollars. The revelation for me is that I’ve always figured it takes a certain grim humor to willingly own an airplane but not everyone shares the view that laughing about it occasionally eases the pain.

I have been informed by management that I will have more time to become circumspect. The vacation schedules have been amended and it looks like I have the first week of April off through the year 2040.

Comments (32)

April Fools' Day: Next celebration 1 April, 2019. Considering the administrative balance of the FAA, it was a good joke, demonstrating the wishful thinking of the clientele. Well, "It's Getting Late. Don't Wait to Update!".

Posted by: Rafael Sierra | April 4, 2018 9:11 AM    Report this comment

"One sharp-eyed reader noted that the wrong picture was used in the story, an illustration of the SDI system, with missiles sailing through space from the USSR."

Hahah, that's great! I knew it was an April Fool's joke, but I didn't catch that image. It really does look like an ADS-B graphic at quick glance.

Posted by: Gary Baluha | April 4, 2018 9:49 AM    Report this comment

I had to look this up...

Grover's Mill is an unincorporated community located within West Windsor Township, in Mercer County, New Jersey, United States.[2] The community was made famous in Orson Welles' 1938 radio broadcast of The War of the Worlds, where it was depicted as the epicenter of a Martian invasion, on October 30 of that year.

Posted by: Timothy Cole | April 4, 2018 10:48 AM    Report this comment

I must admit that when I first saw the headline I thought "I knew they would cave in and extend!" But then I realized the government never extends anything THAT far. I, for one, found it to be a good joke, but I did an ADS-B upgrade two years ago, so I don't care about the deadline.

People are obviously pretty polarized over the subject, but a little dark humor isn't going to hurt. On the positive side, having the first week in April off gives you a chance to enjoy spring flying in Florida! ;-)

Posted by: John McNamee | April 4, 2018 11:07 AM    Report this comment

Yeesh, people were offended over this? I hope that's just a delayed part of the April Fools joke, 'cause dang. People need to get over this "EVERYTHING IS AN OUTRAGE" style of discourse.

I think you struck just the right balance with the joke, for what it's worth.

Posted by: Joshua Levinson | April 4, 2018 11:19 AM    Report this comment

Who woulda thunk that a handful of pilots are of less-than-pinnacle intelligence and sophistication?
The piece made my day.

Posted by: YARS (Tom Yarsley) | April 4, 2018 11:50 AM    Report this comment

Ughhh. We are screwed.

Posted by: Jason Baker | April 4, 2018 12:10 PM    Report this comment

I liked it Paul. You almost got me excited if it wasn't for the fact that I had already upgraded.
The extension time was the give away. It was fun and that's what we're all about here, "FUN."
It's all about having "FUN." Is everybody having "FUN FLYING?" :)

Posted by: Thomas Cooke | April 4, 2018 12:33 PM    Report this comment

Ha...I'm dissappointed I missed the original piece...but now that I've heard the punch line it won't be as funny! Good job Paul; I got away with a couple good April Fool's pranks of my own last Sunday!

Posted by: A Richie | April 4, 2018 4:41 PM    Report this comment

Paul: No, you do not have any explaining to do -- you cannot help it if a portion of your readership is 1) too intellectually challenged to get the April Fool's joke or 2) so thinned skinned that they feel compelled to register their outrage at being made out a fool (which, last I checked, is the point of April Fool's pranks, along with providing a chuckle to those who get the joke right away).

I thought the subject matter (the ADS-B deadline) was a spot-on choice for a GA themed April Fool's piece, and you wrote it up in your typical fine style, with plenty of serious prose to (hopefully) cause the reader to take the bait and ponder, "Is this for real?" But then you mixed in more than enough clues (silly graphic, links which give away the gag, patently absurd quotes and pronouncements) that anyone with half a brain who read it through would get the joke.

And what's with classifying the piece as black humor? It's not like anybody died -- you were having a bit of fun at the FAA's expense (for their supposed failure to meet the 2020 deadline), but hey -- taking pot shots at the Feds is something all of us here can agree is a good thing, right?

And while you may confess to a penchant for black humor, your readers certainly know that blackness doesn't extend to your heart -- as evidenced by your contrition and willingness to provide a humble apology to anyone you might have offended. Not necessary, in my view, but a thoughtful gesture nonetheless.

To those who didn't get the joke right away and then felt the need to express their outrage and indignation: C'mon, lighten up! As Paul alluded to in his mea culpa above, laughter is good medicine and it often does help us through life's painful experiences -- like two weeks ago when I paid the bill for the ADS-B Out upgrade in my Warrior!

So thanks for the humorous and well written piece. Hmm, now that I think about it, I might have laughed harder from reading the angry and indignant comments!

Hope to see you at Sun 'n Fun next week.

Posted by: ANDREW PATTERSON | April 4, 2018 6:30 PM    Report this comment

Half the reason I spend time here is to have put the "F" and "U" back in ... FUN !! And half the reason I respond in my typical zany way is the same ... to have fun. My computer 'nest' is on the far end of the house and I often let out a really loud belly laugh from something I read or write ... and my wife will come over and ask what the heck is going on. I knew it was an April Fools spoof instantly. It HAD to be because I just spent big bucks putting ADS-B in my Cessna.

Ironically, the night before, I commented to my wife that I ought to write something for Fool's Day ... I was brainstorming an idea but you beat me to it when I opened Avweb up at O dark thirty; dI gave you an "A" for subject matter pick.

Gotta go ... I'm still working on the business model for my autonomous hearse idea ... and I'm in negotiations with a major avionics concern for licensing use of my pink autopilot button idea.

Posted by: Larry Stencel | April 4, 2018 11:25 PM    Report this comment

Wow -- I just received an FAA Safety e-mail alert (which I subscribe to) entitled, "No Kidding: ADS-B Deadline of Jan. 1, 2020, is Firm"

It goes on to say, "an April Fool's joke that the Federal Aviation Administration is extending the ADS-B deadline is just that."

There is also a statement on the News and Updates section of the FAA website.

Gotta hand it to you, Paul -- you really know how to stir things up!

But hey -- the FAA statement also says they have a sense of humor, too. Maybe there is hope.

Posted by: ANDREW PATTERSON | April 5, 2018 12:31 PM    Report this comment

One tipoff is that a few months ago Paul said he would not write another column about ADS-B, but here it is!

Posted by: A Richie | April 5, 2018 4:23 PM    Report this comment

When the spoofing starts, there will be lots of additional articles.

Posted by: YARS (Tom Yarsley) | April 5, 2018 4:46 PM    Report this comment

OHHH BOYYYY ... you've done it now Mr Bertorelli !!
I just got NOTC7704 from the FAAST 'boys' on Independence Ave myself.
You are in TROUBBBBBLLLLLEEEE !!

I'm going to go to the post office to see if your pic is on the wall tomorrow.
And, I'll be watching the FBI's most wanted late tonight, too.
You'd better watch the guys standing around the airport fence with cameras when you take the Cub up, too.

The good news ... you'll probably live.
The bad news ... you're now on the 10 most wanted aviators list at the MCO FSDO.
Good thing you have jumping and riding as backup avocations cuz aviation ain't one of' em anymore. :-)

I would LOVE to know what they threatened you or Avweb with to cause your recant.
Sometimes, it WOULD be nice to be a fly on the wall.

That said ... phoooeeeyyy on 'em.
They're WAY too serious.
THIS time, your writing prowess worked TOO good.
Between now and next April 1, 2019 I'm going to be brainstorming MY spoof.
"THEY" ain't gonna like it but everyone here will ...

Posted by: Larry Stencel | April 5, 2018 9:33 PM    Report this comment

Be careful Larry. The "G" man carries a big fly flyswatter.

Posted by: Thomas Cooke | April 6, 2018 3:05 AM    Report this comment

NOW ... add a YouTube video to the foray in my email InBox ... OMG !!
One little funny April Fool's Day spoof and the world is ending ...

Your writing is now on a par with J.R.R. Tolkein, Kurt Vonnegut and Edgar Allan Poe!

www.youtube.com/watch?v=l4xEh6VWhGs

Posted by: Larry Stencel | April 6, 2018 8:35 AM    Report this comment

You have our back PB.

Posted by: Rafael Sierra | April 6, 2018 9:37 AM    Report this comment

Be careful. The "G" man doesn't care about having FUn. They have no sense of humor. Actually, they have no humor at all. "G" man = "no FUN."

Posted by: Thomas Cooke | April 6, 2018 9:52 AM    Report this comment

While the article title alone was enough to tell me this was an April fools joke, your name confirmed it. I just couldn't stop laughing while looking at the diagram! But I must admit, I laughed even more at some of the "outrage" comments while, at the same time, suppressing the urge to cry. My belief that all pilots, except myself, are near the top of the intellect scale has been shattered.

Paul, please keep it up. I read your blogs first including all the comments you generated!

Posted by: Harvey Muehl | April 6, 2018 10:09 AM    Report this comment

If the FAA ran a flight school it would probably be called the "No Fun Flight School." Come fly the unfriendly skies.

Posted by: Thomas Cooke | April 6, 2018 10:23 AM    Report this comment

I was glad to see Avweb return to its roots and do a good April Fool's Day issue.

Posted by: John Clear | April 6, 2018 12:13 PM    Report this comment

Yukking it up aside. there must be some reason PB's chicanery struck a nerve and resulted in what is -- obviously -- an instantaneous knee jerk reaction by the "orthodox constabulary" (see the Jan 23, 2016 blog). I'm betting that they gave him a choice ... recant or suffer accidental spontaneous combustion? He may even have to produce a slick HD movie showing him installing a TSO'ed electrical system and ADS-B 'out' in his Cub in order to atone (after 1,000 Hail Mary's, of course)?

When you think of all the money expended on design, development and maturation over decades since CAPSTONE plus the cost and upkeep of the ground based portion of the ADS-B system, with just a few bucks more a beacon box could have been designed and GIVEN to all aircraft owners. Or, maybe procured in quantity from several competing vendors and sold at cost vs. using incentives and threats for the target population to equip using an aleatorical installation scheme? The date certain IS looming and it's going to be interesting to see how all that works out for all concerned. When I collected MY $500 incentive near the end of the period, there were still many unused reservations ... that says much. I think THAT is part of the issue here? Just yesterday I had a conversation with a PC12 driver who does not yet have ADS-B.

There's a common misconception that the airlines are going to be given a "pass." So I went to the FAA website to see what I'd see. They're saying that the airlines are NOT going to be given any relief from the requirement but that they are being given an Exemption 12555 for continued use of older GPS nav equipment until new can be installed. I must have equipment that meets TSO C166b in my Cessna but the airliner full of paying PAX can use some older version of position source for a while. Maybe it's some of that E-AB stuff? Wonderful.

While at the website, I discovered something else which conflicts with a direct and specific question I asked of an FAA type at Airventure 2017. My concern was over anonymity before I purchased my 1090 box. I asked if the FAA would use ADS-B data in enforcement actions. The answer ... a categorical, "No." Well ... an hour ago I found this statement on the FAA's FAQ's website. "Will the FAA keep a permanent record of the tracks and other information associated with the flights of ADS-B equipped aircraft? A: Radar and ADS-B information is retained for at least six months and sometimes longer for research and investigative purposes." I shoulda bought a UAT !!

Caveat emptor.

Posted by: Larry Stencel | April 6, 2018 12:32 PM    Report this comment

You are wrong Paul, the FAA is pushing back the date til' 2040. I know cause' I saw it on the internet.
Wow! We are becoming a race of morons.

Posted by: Samuel Cobb | April 6, 2018 1:16 PM    Report this comment

On the ADS-B 2020 mandate. What is expected for the AIRLINES, TRANSPORT AND REGIONAL AIRCRAFT? Will foreign commercial aircraft be affected?

Posted by: Rafael Sierra | April 7, 2018 8:42 AM    Report this comment

RAF ... directly from FAA websites:

The rumor that airlines have been given a delay to the January 1, 2020 ADS-B Out compliance date is not true. Exemption 12555 allows the use of older GPS equipment until 2025, but still requires that operators install and operate rule-compliant ADS-B Out equipment by January 1, 2020.


Exemption 12555

Navigation Accuracy Category for position and Navigation Integrity Category Exemption (12555)

The FAA has granted Exemption 12555 with a strict, limited timeframe in which operators must equip with new navigation receivers.

Exemption 12555:

-does not exempt the requirement for ADS-B Out equipment to be installed and operational on aircraft flying in ADS-B rule airspace starting January 1, 2020.

-does allow for the extended use of an older type of GPS navigation receiver already installed in some aircraft. All other ADS-B Out equipment requirements must still be met and operational by January 1, 2020.

-was granted because the kind of GPS navigation receivers suitable for transport category aircraft that meet the ADS-B Out Rule requirements will not be available for purchase or installation in sufficient quantities until closer to 2020.

-imposes certain conditions, limitations and additional pre-flight responsibilities on the operators.

Posted by: Larry Stencel | April 7, 2018 11:25 AM    Report this comment

Thanks Larry. I also noted that EASA AND Japan are pretty much on the same timeline.

Posted by: Rafael Sierra | April 7, 2018 4:51 PM    Report this comment

"All of us who cover this field know there's a pool of frustration and anger over ADS-B." - and you chose to make "fools" of people who you know are already angry and frustrated?

You know, the longer I live the more certain I am that aviation tends to attract the immature and delinquent among us. I'd say this latest yuk-it-up fun-fest has proven it beyond any doubt. So tiring..

Posted by: Ken Keen | April 7, 2018 5:53 PM    Report this comment

I think you're right Ken...

Posted by: Thomas Cooke | April 8, 2018 3:13 AM    Report this comment

Priceless comments. Paul, has POTUS called you yet about his plans to make you FAA Administrator?
Clearly, you made the kill and we all had the pleasure to watch a whole solar system implode. All for a wishful thinking April Fools joke (this event has been celebrated since 1504, or so) that struck an apparently reading and comprehension challenged audience.

Did the FAA provide metrics (average age, gender, political affiliation) on which part of the aviation populace responded with confusion? Not sure if this can be topped by anyone, anytime soon...?

Posted by: Jason Baker | April 8, 2018 5:06 AM    Report this comment

JaBa ... GREAT idea! PB for Administrator. Has a nice ring to it. He'd even be able to fly N1 and do a video flight report on it.

Since he now has experience fooling the 'Fools' on ADS-B, he'd be great at giving oral gratification to the infidel GA target population during "Meet the Administrator" forums at Oshkosh. :-) Maybe he shoulda called it ADS-C delayed until 2040 so that the slow learners and those with no sense of humor woulda better understood? Then again, maybe they still wouldn't have ...

Posted by: Larry Stencel | April 8, 2018 11:31 AM    Report this comment

Oh wow, just read Larry's idea and what a great one it is.
PB giving the "Meet the Adminstrator" talk at Oshkosh...I can hear the snark now!

And think of the the video tours he could do as "A Day in the Life of the FAA Adminstrator". For example the opening episode "How does this fancy pen and pencil on my desk work" at 800 Independence Avenue. Others could be "Unusual attitudes in N1", "Ramp checks by PB" and "Skydiving with the Adminstrator" !

Posted by: A Richie | April 9, 2018 9:34 AM    Report this comment

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