Public ADS-B Tracking Should Be Optional

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My lone act of civil disobedience as a teenager in the 1970s (there were other instances of just plain disobedience) was to walk in a pack of hundreds of other jean-jacketed and bell-bottomed youths from our high school to the local courthouse to express our displeasure at the impending nuclear test at Amchitka Island.

There was plenty of righteous indignation that the military industrial complex could light the fuse on a five-megaton bomb at the westernmost tip of the Aleutian Islands but not much in the way of disobedience. I suppose we blocked a couple of roads and filled all the stone steps to the entrance of Vernon, B.C.’s grandest building, but mostly it was a few hours when we would normally have been in school.

The little old lady photographer for the local newspaper, who would, 10 years later, become a dear colleague of mine, was there with her Rolleiflex and I made sure to avoid that double lensed incriminator. My dad had recently retired as a senior officer in NORAD and had the kind of security clearances that ensured he took secrets about that test and many other aspects of the alliance’s nuclear capabilities to an early grave a few years later.

He would not have enjoyed seeing my pimply face on the front page of the Vernon Daily News but probably not for the reasons you think. I think he hated nuclear weapons as much as the raggedy speakers at the protest professed to, but he also knew that what he did for a living ensured that my casual attendance in that expression of freedom of assembly and speech might get me a detention but it wouldn’t get me beaten up or thrown in jail or worse.

It never came up because I dodged that Rolleiflex and its elderly operator successfully and you won’t see me in that photo. My utter lack of commitment to the cause gave me no reason to discuss it. It looked like fun so I went.

I’m sure there are still harmless little gatherings like that, complete with the whiff of pot smoke in the air, but a lot of the protests we hear about these days have a harder edge and the consequences from the forms of expression chosen by some of today’s protesters are potentially more dire.

Business jets have become the target of climate protesters, particularly in Europe, and when it was screaming kids locking hands to block maneuvering surfaces or mounting social media tirades against pop icons for their kerosene habits it was tolerable, maybe even useful to the whole discussion surrounding aviation sustainability.

Last week, though, a couple of twenty-somethings got on the ramp at Stansted Airport near London and doused a Gulfstream and maybe some others with orange paint shot from fire extinguishers. It suggests a degree of planning and sophistication that, in my mind, tarnishes the altruism of their cause, but it was a clumsy failure anyway.

Their target was pop star Taylor Swift’s plane because she has become the symbol of fossil fuel excess for her globe-trotting Eras tour. These kids may now well understand how serious it is to tamper with aircraft, and I have a feeling they’re about to find out how expensive it is.

It raises the issues of the right to security, safety and privacy that all people have, regardless of how rich, entitled, pompous or elitist others might consider them. For what it’s worth, Swift reportedly buys twice as many carbon credits as the megalithic collection of aircraft, trucks, buses and limos needed to support that kind of extravaganza spews. And the simple fact is, if the world wants Taylor Swift, which it certainly seems to, then it must accept private aviation. Without it, there is no pop music, not to mention professional sports and a host of other activities that humans like to watch for their amusement.

And while we tend to experience the talents and exploits of these cultural icons in a one-sided transaction, we all share some responsibility for the personal safety of those whose talents we crave. And that might mean giving up a little ourselves.

At the root of the protest at Stansted was the frivolous use of ADS-B. I’m not sure how these kids missed Swift because there are dozens of websites devoted to tracking her every movement in the air. There are plenty of good reasons for ADS-B, but tracking celebrities isn’t one of them so maybe it’s time we stopped.

There is simply no good reason for the general public to be able to identify and track individual aircraft. No one standing on the ground or huddled in their mother’s basement has the slightest personal interest or stake in the precise location of anyone’s aircraft. Certainly there are those who do need to have that information, but whether Swift actually landed at Stansted or sent a decoy was none of those protesters’ business.

Furthermore, their actions raised the specter of escalation. How they managed to get fire extinguishers full of paint onto the ramp of a major airport legitimately supports a host of “what-if” scenarios.

There will be reaction to this blog along the lines that that there should be no special rules for Swift or Elon Musk or (insert celebrity here) and I couldn’t agree more. We should all be able to opt out of having our aircraft tracked by anyone who has no practical interest in where it is or where it’s going.

We don’t allow anyone with an internet connection to track private vehicles or buses or boats and we don’t wrap ourselves in the flag complaining about it. Tracking planes was a neat new tech that we didn’t need and some are confusing it with constitutional rights.

Having said all that, I still think those who want to make their flights publicly trackable by ADS-B should be able to. Who would want that, you ask? Well, me and perhaps more importantly, my wife. In the next few weeks we’re adding a uAvionix TailBeacon X to the rudder of our Cessna 140 as part of a future video project on the Canadian ADS-B mandate and its requirement to send signals to satellites.

The unit satisfies the future mandate and gets us a neat little piece of electronic wizardry that will go just above the row of stainless steel art deco piano key switches on the 78-year-old panel. But from a personal point of view, the biggest bonus is the ability of friends and family to type a couple of keys and to be able to see exactly where I am when I’m flying (not that I ever go very far). And, God forbid, it may make the difference in finding me if for some reason that breadcrumb trail stops displaying.

How we set it all up to opt in or opt out is for much smarter people than me to figure out but you can’t tell me that there’s no way to do it. It’s just one of those unforeseen consequences of an otherwise excellent technology that provides myriad benefits for safety and efficiency. There must be a fix for this little glitch.

And if you ever want to see me while I commit aviation, look up C-FEMK on your choice of ADS-B tracking sites starting in August. I’m not sure why you would, but you’re certainly welcome to.

Russ Niles
Russ Niles is Editor-in-Chief of AVweb. He has been a pilot for 30 years and joined AVweb 22 years ago. He and his wife Marni live in southern British Columbia where they also operate a small winery.

81 COMMENTS

  1. If any exist, all the “good reasons” for public trackability of aircraft also apply to cars. Would any public tolerate public trackability of their cars?

    • Already do, any car in EU has a “black box” which gives location (through a hardwired SIM chip) for SOS button, plus speed, braking, cornering info.
      Step into a Tesla and it goes even further.
      Anyone interested can figure out out to find where a car is — and that is even before the “tracking devices” used by bosses, or thief deterrents.
      Think it is the same in US…

      • “Anyone interested can figure out out to find where a car is”

        Posting a questionable claim about hacking the system is hardly a sound basis for classifying the system as a means of “public trackability”.

      • But there’s no web sites where one can basically figure out where actual people are traveling in their cars which is available for planes.

    • Most, if not all, states treat automotive license information as confidential. Otherwise, that guy you cut off might come to your house and do nasty things.

  2. I know you say that there can’t be no way to “fix the glitch” to “opt out” of people being able to track you. But unfortunately, due to the way ADS-B was designed and implemented, there really is no technical way to do it.

    Anyone can, with very inexpensive hardware and very little technical know-how, receive ADS-B broadcasts from aircraft (this is what ADS-B In does). By its very design, allowing other aircraft to see one another, ADS-B data is unencrypted, and anyone can track any aircraft within range of their receiver (which can be several hundred km) – they don’t need the Internet, or cooperation from any third parties to do it…. nor can anyone prevent them. All that tracking web sites do (like flightradar24 or flightaware) is consolidate this data from participants across the world.

    This consolidation, of course, makes it easier for users to track aircraft outside of the range of their location. But those web sites do have the ability for people who want to maintain their privacy to opt out – this ability already does exist. The FAA also does allow people very concerned with privacy to use their Privacy ICAO aircraft address program to issue them an alternate, temporary ICAO aircraft address… but this only swaps one identifier with another, and unless it is changed regularly, once it is learned, the owner of the aircraft is back to the same starting point. And in any case, this latter option is US-centric – aircraft flying in other countries are unable to use that service.

    Due to the nature of how ADS-B is implemented, from a technical standpoint there is just no way for a person to fly completely privately. It was never designed with that in mind, and the only way to ensure some modicum of privacy is to request it with the various popular tracking sites. Of course, whether a person *should* be allowed to track an individual’s flight without their consent is a separate moral issue, but it’s not something that can actually be prevented.

    • This is correct, at least in the US. ADS-B is not really the issue, it’s the aggregators like FlightAware, FlightRadar24, etc. which incentive people to setup receivers to push packets to their site in return for their services (Full disclosure: I run a PiAware station at home). You can opt-out from these sites on a per tail number basis which would prevent the general public from tracking you.

    • The easiest way to do this would be to make the FAA’s N-number registry not publicly searchable. I am not aware of any state that has a website where you can type in a license plate and get the home address and phone number of the car’s owner. There may have been an argument for making the database publicly accessible back in the early days of the Internet, but we have long lived in the world of identity theft and PII laws.

      • That is a really good point. I have no idea actually why registration is publicly available. I don’t think it should be (or be gated somehow depending on purpose).

      • At least in Canada where I live, aircraft tail numbers (the equivalent of our N-numbers) are not only searchable, but the “cat’s already out of the bag” in that the data is all downloadable. So even if the government decided tomorrow to make the registry not searchable, it’s too late, since everyone’s registration numbers (including ICAO 24 bit addresses) have already been made available en masse to anyone who wants them. I don’t know if something similar might be the case in the US.

        In any case, even if the N-number registrations (or ICAO 24-bit addresses used for ADS-B) are not publicly searchable, for public figures, it would still be relatively trivial to identify which aircraft they flew in, and then match it to the ADS-B data logged for arrivals at that time. Harder to do, of course, than a searchable database, but for famous people like Taylor Swift or Elon Musk, someone would do it.

        I don’t see how this genie can be put back into the bottle. If someone wants to fly, they just have to accept that it isn’t going to be done anonymously.

        • Saying that every future aircraft owner has to have their personal information publicly searchable on the internet simply because current users have had their data mishandled isn’t a valid excuse. You have to treat it the same way as a data breach. Accept that you’ve lost some data, try to protect what you can, and make the system more secure for the new users and data. There are over 16 million different 24-bit ICAO codes, meaning you could assign over 400 codes to every airplane on the planet. We’re not short of them if we need to assign new ones. In reality most users won’t care enough to apply to have their ICAO code and tail number changed, but having the option open will help to ease the privacy concerns for new users.

          • The ADS-B Out data (at least for 1090 Mhz, which I’m familiar with, as that’s the only allowable ADS-B Out frequency in Canada) includes not only the ICAO codes, but the aircraft tail number as well. Sure, new aircraft registrations could be made private by default, but even if the data was retracted now, it will be decades before more than 10 percent of aircraft (those receiving new tail numbers) would be anonymous. I don’t know of anyone who would want to go through the hassle and expense of changing their tail number. It’s not like repainting the airplane is as easy as changing a license plate.

            The comparison to a data breach only goes so far (considering this information has always been public, and aircraft owners have known and accepted it enough that its public status has never been changed). Changing your aircraft tail number isn’t as easy as changing your password. Whether we like it or not, and even if the data was pulled from public accessibility today, we have to accept that flying is not anonymous.

  3. Currently the only way to have ADS-B out in the USA without transmitting identification is by using a UAT transmitter with Mode C. Then anonymous mode is allowed when flying VFR. Unfortunately that has limited applicability because an aircraft cannot fly internationally or above 18,000 feet without 1090ES, which always transmits ID. But UAT with Mode C is a perfect route to go for antiques and flivers like Cubs and Ercoupes or even experimentals. I use UAT out with Mode C in my Husky, Luscombe, Cessna 140 and Vans RV all with an anonymous switch. Requesting an internet tracking site to remove aircraft ID doesn’t mean much sine every person with a cheap ADS-B receiver bypasses the internet and gets the full datastream.

  4. Per the FCC, all radio transmissions are public. What may be illegal is what you do with the information you received. This is why police scanners and radar receivers are illegal in some states. With FCC permission you may encrypt the information transmitted.

    Unintended consequences abound in most everything we do. The FAA tried to make flying safer for everyone and didn’t anticipate private ADS-B receivers.

  5. Also, N numbers and flight numbers are transmitted publicly. This is how folks used to track biz jets in and out of Omaha, for example, to assemble info on companies Warren was interested in buying.

    Shutting down ADSB access just makes tracking harder, but not impossible.

  6. In the early days of cell phones, some of you may remember, they were straight, unencrypted, radio connections. A simple scanner is all that was needed to hear at least one side of a conversation. Industrial espionage being what it is, the cell companies quickly went from analog to digital, and with encryption for security. (Not perfect, but it does require some significant capability to listen in now.

    So, how does one get the government to go to ADSB version 2 and add encryption? Marketing pressure hardly moves them. Someone with “friends in high places” needs to make a push for this. Probably multiple someones.

    But, I’m with Russ. I let my family track my phone and my car (a Tesla – someone’s always watching!) so why not an airplane I’m in?

    • Adding encryption is much less a political question than a technical one. We just simply have no technical or logistical way to distribute and maintain the encryption keys necessary to do so. It’s why web sites have “SSL” keys, but users almost never do (and in the cases they do, it costs $100’s per year and is generally required to get paid as an employee or contractor).

      What do you do (as the FAA or as an ADS-B receiver) if you receive an ADS-B report with an out-of-date encryption key? Ignore it (opening the door for an easily avoidable collision)? Show it anyway (opening the door for any kid with a $300 HackRF to create hundreds of airplanes wherever he wants)?

    • ADS-B “version 2” to add encryption has a couple of problems. First of all, as Steve said, it adds a whole additional layer of failure modes. But secondly, even if we wanted to, all existing ADS-B Out transmitters (UAT, Mode S, etc.) don’t know how to do encryption, and most don’t allow a software update. So it would require, yet again, every aircraft owner out there to spend thousands of dollars to upgrade their equipment to support it. I can’t see that happening in my lifetime.

      Also, as Steve said, ADS-B as it currently stands is already vulnerable to a “kid with a HackRF” to create hundreds of virtual airplanes. It can be a great tool to help add an additional layer of awareness, but in my opinion, should never be used as a standalone definitive source of information. Unfortunately, that is exactly what Canada is planning to do.

      Don’t get me wrong – I think ADS-B is great. But I think it could have been so much better, more reliable, robust, secure, and feature-rich if the powers that be would have consulted with industry experts (not the aviation industry; data technology experts). But it’s too late now.

  7. The other evening a heavy jet flew over my house at low level. One of the ADSB tracking sites reported it was at 2800ft and 200kt with no other data other than an ADSB code. The internet suggests it was a tactical military code. The aircraft flew a circuit around an airbase 30 miles north used by the USAF on detachment. I have no real need to know, other than idle interest, what it was (my guess is an 8 engined aircraft), where it came from and where it was going.

    It makes sense to me that the operator could hide its identity. There was no real need for me (or anyone else who was not controlling the aircraft) to know what it was. Perhaps we should allow those who have a demonstrable need to travel incognito to use similar codes? I am content to use my assigned code in my aircraft and have no need to hide my activities. But there are clearly some who use civil aircraft who would benefit from that protection. There should be some means where they can be assigned a one use only code.

    • A lot of military ops have ADS-B turned off. It’s why flying around in a MOA presents new mid-air collision hazards (hint: get flight following).

  8. Some things never change! When I went to work for NBAA as the director of air traffic services at the tail end of the last millennium, guess what one of the top hot issues I had to deal with was? Yep, tracking of business jets by the public for nefarious industrial espionage purposes. And this was a decade or more before ADS-B was mandated in the US. Now add eco-terrorists to the mix. Sigh.

  9. The first thing should be making the N-number database (and airman certificate database) “need to know” information, just like license plates and driver’s licenses. I can’t think of any good reason this data needs to be available to any fool with an internet connection.

    The next step should be revising the 1090ES standard to permit anonymous mode for light aircraft, since so many have this over the intended UAT + Mode C (because why cart around two transponders?). Or better yet, do away with the need for traditional transponder squawks and go to straight ADS-B (and tell the airlines to pound sand). Then light airplanes can go to UAT only without having to carry a useless second transponder around.

    Third step would be ending the government data feed to private collectors. There’s nothing we could feasibly do about ADS-B being unencrypted (which I suspect was a result of a rushed as-is implementation of a proof-of-concept without regard to future bad actors or input from a “red team”) but we don’t have to make the job easy for people either.

  10. Luke 11:21: When a strong man armed keepeth his palace, his goods are in peace. American nuclear weapons and the defense of western civilization, funded primarily by Americans, led to the collapse of the Soviet Union and the liberation of billions of oppressed people. Hopefully all the confused, pot-smoking protesters from the 70s now admit they were wrong and thank God America protected them despite their being dupes for Marxists.

    • Unfortunately, those millions of oppressed people in the Soviet Union are now millions of oppressed people in Russia as well as several of the other former Soviet “Republics.” The freedom was short-lived. Marxism was replaced by fascism. With or without ADS-B we have much more freedom to fly than most other countries. I hope that it stays that way…

  11. ADS-B is Big Brother and is to be avoided. We got along without it just fine for a century of aviation. It is though a riot that a decadent granola like Swift is under attack from her fellow granolas – the rats are eating each other. As far as those stupid carbon offsets are concerned, Swift’s beautiful Gulfstream already generates plant food, aka CO2. More CO2 = more green stuff growing. Clear any forest acreage, wait five years, and God will replant it with more trees at zero expense.

    • Kent, you’re absolutely right! And sometimes the ‘obvious’ isn’t so obvious to the GA community because they’ve been so programmed to believe everything Big Brother enunciates as the Gospel. It isn’t.

  12. Good article, Russ. I have only one quibble: “…for much smarter people than me…”? Cummon now, Russ. You know that ain’t right. ‘Course I don’t speak English or Canadian, only Amurican, but surely me can’t be wrong about this. (Just messin’ wit chew, Russ!)

  13. ABSB-out is optional, if you don’t fly in class B or C airspace. I can easily fly around those airspaces.
    As far as allowing tracking, I use a SPOT satellite tracker. So, I can give someone my google map password and they can see where I am.
    It has a ‘911’ button , which then transmits a gps location every minute.

    • In many parts of the country, that’s like saying “Water is optional”; you can get by without it only so far. Soon enough, you’re gonna need a slug. At this point, I can still make the all-day trip from my home-drome to KOSH sans ADSB-out, without adding a fuel stop, but it certainly takes longer than back in the 70’s. ADSB/out airspace is growing, and more airports are becoming Charlie’s, so I’m not sure how longer I’ll be able to say that. But my two-inch tail numbers should last me until I hang up my headset.

      • In FL, there’s a narrow piece of airspace E of the TPA veil and W of the MCO veil around GIF that’s the only easy way to get to south FL without ADS-B. Places like that are gonna be a dangerous place to be when it’s busy out …

  14. Let’s not forget ADSB was never supposed to be used for enforcement. Who would have guessed the FAA wouldn’t be able to keep its hands out of its own cookie jar.

  15. A very well written article Russ. The bigger point, it seems to me, is the gap of security at major airports like Stansted. If a couple of bumbling boobs from a climate change nutter group can so easily penetrate Stansted’s security just to add an unwanted paint job, just imagine what a pair of committed jihadis could do.

  16. Everyone better get use to being tracked 24/7. If your cellphone isn’t in your pocket giving away you coordinates then all the traffic cameras, satellite services connected to your vehicle, face/body recognition or the latest and greatest AI tracking tech that combines everything. No hiding from The Man. Good luck hiding in the shadows. If the NSA can see you so can everyone else for the right price.

    • This is not about hiding from “the man”, quite the opposite. This is about having the license plate on your car in a public searchable database. Joe Public would have a fit if that were the case.

  17. Great blog post – got me thinking esp line about tracking other vehicles is not public either – the ‘choice’ approach is a sensible one imo. Thanks Hippie Russ!

  18. Doesn’t anyone but me find having target callsigns available onscreen when operating around uncontrolled airports?

    • Absolutely. I’ve used that many times, even in controlled airspace. It’s very helpful to know where the person talking on the radio actually is. Your N-number is painted on the side of the airplane for everyone to seen. I, nor anyone else, need to know your home address, phone number, blood type, favorite color, school that your kids go to, or your mother’s maiden name simply because you were able to buy a 50 year old Cessna.

  19. ADS-B is a great asset in aviation safety. But I agree with most. Making that information available to the public is a violation of privacy. I do think that type of tracking should be available to ATC, and to general aviation pilots that have ADS-B In capabilities in their plane. It is a huge part of situational awareness, especially when flying in busy airspace. I also don’t have a problem with an airplanes N number being displayed on screen. Unfortunately not everybody out there flying, is looking outside their own world. They are dangerous. I can’t tell you how many close calls I’ve had in patterns. Sometimes someone needs to be reported and get a wake up call from the FAA. Those kind of pilots are just as bad as drunk drivers. But I haven’t heard of one mid-air fender bender. It’s usually death. I’m afraid the government wants to know everything that’s going on and everyone’s life. So getting this to go away, he’s going to be like pulling teeth. And getting Biden out of office.

    • That was a thoughtful, well-expressed opinion on this topic, DougH.

      Too bad that you felt it necessary to tag it with a completely gratuitous and totally irrelevant political opinion. You may “agree with most” on the ADS-B issue, but half of the US population disagrees with you on politics. That’s why you, Kent, and everyone else who feels it necessary to wear their political affiliation on their sleeve (or hat) need to exercise a modicum of self-control and self-edit your posts before AvWeb devolves into yet-another echo-chamber chatroom.

    • Doug H… Looking OUT the window when in the traffic pattern and at all other times, flying the airplane and forgetting the glass is timely advice. Split second decisions by you the pilot are more timely than looking at the glass and then figuring out your next move!

  20. I’m based within 10 miles of a Class B airport, and I routinely fly over 10,000, so not having ADS-B isn’t an option. “You have nothing to fear if you have nothing to hide” is often attributed to Joseph Goebels. It may not have been original with him, but the shoe fits.

    I went to the trouble of blocking my tail number through LADD/BARR or whatever they call it these days. So, my type shows up on Flightradar24 and Flightaware, but not my tail number. No so with ADS-B Exchange, though. They make it a point of pride to track everyone and display tail numbers, without respect for whether we have asked to remain anonymous. Personally, I think that’s wrong, and just plain rude.

    Most of the time, I would not be upset if someone knew where I was flying, but the fact is that they just don’t have a reason to know. If I want someone to know I’m coming, I text them when I depart and tell them to get on FR24 or Flightaware and look for my aircraft type on the route. (I don’t tell folks about ADS-B exchange on principle). Or, I do like we used to do and call the FBO on the radio 20 miles out and let them know we’ll be landing soon and have a car reserved.

    Last year, my wife and I took a brief vacation to a part of the country we hadn’t visited before. We’re involved in an organization that’s based at the airport where we landed. They’re great folks, but we were on a tight schedule and wanted a getaway without having to make excuses for not socializing. So, we flew in, tied down, got into rental car, and had our vacation. It would have been awkward if everyone knew we were in town but didn’t stop into say hello, go out to dinner, etc. etc. Maybe someone saw me on ADS-B Exchange and the joke was on me.

    Anyway, I sure wish the airman and aircraft registration databases were private for non-commercial operators. For commercial operators, it makes sense for the the traveling public to be able find out if their pilot is licensed and appropriately rated, and to see if there is a history of violations relating to maintenance. YMMV

    • While being near or in Class C or B or fly over 10,000 feet may mean not having ADS-B is not an option, there is a fully compliant and easy way to do it with the right equipment. In other words instead of buying 1090ES ADS-B compliant equipment like all the new expensive transponders keep your Mode C and pair it with a UAT compliant unit. With UAT out you are completely legal to fly in and out of Class C and B and over 10,000 feet with the benefit of being an anonymous target when not squawking a discreet transponder code. It’s a lot cheaper too. Since the UAT equipment uses a random number generator to make up an ICAO code using it’s own internal circuitry it’s practically impossible to find any way to decode it from the outside. Even for the FAA. Don’t get me wrong, the ATC has extremely reliable ways to know what every target is without relying on ADS-B out and in spite of anonymous mode.

      • Yeah. I thought about this when I was shopping for ADS-B, but I also fly to Mexico and Canada, so I thought I needed 1090ES. Only after I installed a Garmin ADS-B transponder (GNX375) did I realize that it couldn’t be configured to use satellite GPS (as supposedly will be required in Canada). If and when I need another transponder in order to meet Canada diversity requirements, I’ll probably go with a UAT Tail Beacon that will go UP and DOWN instead of giving more money to Garmin.

        If and when that happens, it would be nice to disable the 1090ES transponder in the 375 so I can flip the switch to VFR on the UAT unit. But I’m not sure that’s possible, or legal. Can you run two different ADS-B transponders (1090ES and UAT) for the same aircraft/Mode S code?

        Overall, I have found that having ground-based 1090ES ADS-B on board is great for traffic in populated areas with ground stations, but mostly worthless for in-flight weather other than METARS and completely useless for traffic in the mountains. A satellite-based system would have legitimate SAR benefits that are currently lacking in the Western U.S. and Canada. There are no ground stations in the Rockies, and there won’t be.

        • Thanks to other comments here, I now remember that Canada will have to be both diverse and 1090ES, so switching over to just UAT won’t do it for me. And now I remember how I wound up with the 1090ES box in the first place. Grrr.

          • The good news is that many belly mounted 1090ES ADS-B Out solutions may still be compatible in Canada after all. The signal does have to be received from satellites as well as ground stations, but real world testing shows that many 1090ES belly mounted antennas work sufficiently well to be compliant. If you can pass what they call a “PAPR” test (a test of performance in flight), you might be good to go with the hardware you already have. My aircraft, and most of my friends with similar configurations, have proven to be compliant by this method.

    • IF ADS-B Exchange didn’t do it, then someone else would. In fact, there already are other ADS-B aggregators, as a simple Google search will reveal. Unless ADS-B aggregation is itself made illegal (and that would have to be world-wide, not just in the U.S.), this genie is out of the bottle. Like the Whac-A-Mole game, if one aggregator is shut down, another will pop up.

  21. Other than the first five or six paragraphs, you’re absolutely correct. I would add the you may want to warn your spouse and any others watching as you cruise the skies that just because the data dropped, which it often does, you have not crashed.

  22. That you believe ADSB has anything to do with satellites undermines your credibility completely.

    If you can’t understand a tail beacon, how are your readers supposed to believe you have any concept of privacy or safety in aviation?

    • The Canadian system includes a network of 66 Iridium satellites. Google it; then pull your foot from out of your… mouth.

    • The Canadian ADS-B mandate requires the transmission of ADS-B Out data over a 1090 Mhz Mode S transponder to both ground and satellite receivers. This is what the tailBeaconX does, as Russ correctly stated. Right now, it’s just mandated for Class A and B airspaces, but when it eventually gets mandated for Class C and other airspaces, it’s going to make life rather difficult for US general aviation aircraft to fly into Canada.

  23. The protesters didn’t use paint, they used corn flour. As the planes were parked in Britain, the orange stuff was probably off the aircraft and down into the runway drainage infrastructure in a few hours without any human help.

    • What about corn flower in the pitot-static system? Sure, there’s lots of redundancy, but I’d want the whole plane system gone through before I took it up.

  24. ” No one standing on the ground or huddled in their mother’s basement has the slightest personal interest or stake in the precise location of anyone’s aircraft.”

    I disagree. I have a intense interest in knowing the location of a flight my family, coworkers, friends etc are on, especially when I am hosting them and picking them up at some airport, especially when they do not fly a commercial airline. Also when I own the plane, or a student is up on a solo cross country, or their 1st IFR flight in IMC. The depth and breadth of the interest continues because they are operating under the privilege of flying in public use airspace, and your expectation of privacy ends when you step out in public, use public resources, and even worse are using taxpayer resources everytime you use an FAA funded airport.

    If you do none of those things… guess what, you are then not required to have ADS-B out on your plane.

    • Again, for the billionth time, expectation of privacy has a new meaning given the new tech. For instance, it is one thing to go on a job interview still today, but soon it could be easy enough for your employer to have AI tracking your travels and reporting on you if it thinks you are shopping jobs. Not to mention the inaccuracies.
      How about if a website sends your friends, family, and business associates a note about your parking at a strip club? How about it doing so incorrectly?

  25. Leaving aside the “think of the poor millionaires” argument against ADS-B, the idea that protest shouldn’t be well organized and shouldn’t inconvenience anyone is absurd. The easiest example is the Civil Rights movement. But the author himself admits that he never cared much about his cause, certainly not enough to take real action, and that even then he knew he’d never suffer for his speech like many still do today. People are beaten maimed killed and arrested in the US for protesting. And yet they still see wrongs so great that they risk all of that to protest.
    Historically, in the long term, more security, more information control, more restrictions, more armed government personnel, or even violent suppression has Not been an effective way to deal with these kinds of protests.
    Dealing with the root problem, even partially is a much better way to get rid of those pesky protests and that pesky free speech.

  26. To Russ Niles. One of the things about ADSB as an a&p IA, you may want to contact uAvionix concerning a uAvionix TailBeacon X to the rudder of your Cessna 140. Being a tail dagger the TailBeacon is subjected to vibration from the tail wheel that can damage the unit. Just a precaution to consider.
    jg

  27. News flash! When you decided to become a pilot you became a participant in all that is government related to flying. If you want to be anonymous you picked a bad place to be so.

    Personally, I think ADS B should be mandatory from the time you enter your plane to the time you get out. My reason is that I live in Santa Cruz very near the Beach Boardwalk. There’s a group of pilots who fly in formation over the beach and the city below the hard deck of 3000 feet for acrobatic flight. Yes, flying in formation is considered acrobatic. Plus, these pilots are flying very close together in small twitchy RV aircraft. RV as in the maker, not as recreational vehicles. I don’t care if you like to show off your incredible skills but mind the rules and do it out where “when you crash”, not if, you only kill yourself and not people on the ground.

    Up till now it’s been hard to see those two inch tall N numbers on your airplanes. ADS B has made it so much easier to get your numbers, place of flight origin, altitude, speed over the ground and final destination. It’s really handy when filing a complaint with the local flight authority. It never ceases to amaze me how often people like to fly low enough over our town that you can flip them off and they can actually see you do it.

    As a pilot for almost 45 years I have known old pilots and bold pilots but very few old, bold pilots. In my flying I’ve buzzed a house or two. Back then the N numbers where like a billboard on the side of the plane. If someone could read the number you were definitely flying too low. But since the FAA allowed the very small N numbers nobody can read them unless you’re right on top of them or you’re Superman.

    I’ll never forget the phone call I got after buzzing a few people’s houses. Apparently, someone got my number and call my airport to “turn me in”. Sometime later while drinking at our favorite watering hole I mentioned the phone call from one ” Jeremy Cloud” to fellow pilots at the bar. One or two other pilots admitted to getting a similar call. It was then a flight instructor asked me to step outside. After a brief moment, him assuming his FAA official voice, Mr Cloud identify himself to me. He was the guy that signed off on my last biannual check ride. He thought that I might take a swing at him for his prank. That’s why he asked me to step outside. I was thankful. The call really had me rattled. He said that was his intent. It actually made me a better pilot.

    The idea that someone is always watching should be how you fly in the first place. By the book. Check list in hand for each phase of flight. My might save your own life. Maybe the life of your passenger’s. More importantly, the lives of people going about their day never expecting to be hit by a crashing airplane.

    I’m not saying you should never have fun flying. Being reckless is not safe for anyone. Accident’s happen all the time. So why take the risk? Besides, someone is always watching.

    • Perhaps you wouldn’t mind sharing exactly which FAR categorizes formation flight as aerobatic flight?

    • Flying in formation is not considered aerobatic flight. Refer to pt91.111. Aerobatic rules pt91.303. Unless there is some FDSO inspector who mistakenly thinks so.

  28. According to statista, there were 198,000 registered general aviation aircraft in 1990 verses 204,590 in 2022. A fairly small increase in activity yet all this concern over midairs. I think the bigger problem in having promulgated this requirement for ADS-B will be, when owners are taxed on their use of federal airspace for which the current information is now readily available to the guvment.

    • I guess, in your opinion the public should have a right to know who is using their public roadways too?

  29. This is only even a topic of discussion now because the ultra rich are upset that the climate hysterics have gone from merely ruining the common man’s day by blocking him on the highway on his way to his crappy job to inconveniencing the same jet setters that love to preach down to the commoners about the climate. Nobody cared that you could track me in a rental or even my wealthier friends in their old used piston singles. It’s so predictable. Personally, I think if it’s out there being broadcasted it’s fair game and opting out should not be an option. Maybe if you’re mad that hysterical doomsday cultists are splattering your $10,000,000 personal jet with paint kick a few of those billion bucks toward improving security at your frequent airports.

  30. Where I do not like Taylor Swift or her Music… I thing she is a MS Better Than You Person! However, that is no reason to paint her plane that way… They need to get all of those people involved (they know who they are, there was a Video) and prosecute them to the fullest and give Maximum Sentences… People are just stupid.

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