U.S. aviation industry representatives and the Federal Aviation Administration have agreed to form an “Equip 2020” working group to rally aircraft operators behind automatic dependent surveillance-broadcast (ADS-B) technology. The FAA announced the plan following an invitation-only “call to action” meeting it convened on October 28 in Washington, D.C.
Under a final rule the FAA published in May 2010, operators in the U.S. must equip their aircraft for ADS-B Out capability to broadcast their precise position in space to ground controllers and other equipped aircraft by 2020. The agency has installed a nationwide network of ground radio stations to receive and process the aircraft position signals. But with the equipment deadline looming, operators are lagging in acquiring and installing the necessary avionics. In September, the Department of Transportation inspector general released an audit of the program that found the initial benefits of ADS-B Out will be limited and that only a fragment of the industry—3 percent of major air carriers and 10 percent of general aviation users—have thus far equipped.
The call to action meeting was not open to the press. Following the event, the FAA provided a list of 46 trade organizations, airlines, avionics manufacturers and airframers that were represented at the meeting. The airlines attending were Alaska, American, Delta, FedEx, JetBlue, Southwest, United and UPS. The aircraft manufacturers attending were Airbus, Boeing, Embraer, Gulfstream and Cessna. Numerous avionics manufacturers attended. They were: ACSS, Aparreo Systems, Aspen Avionics, Dynon Avionics, Esterline CMC Electronics, FreeFlight Systems, Garmin, Honeywell, Rockwell Collins, Trig Avionics and Universal Avionics Systems Corp.
Representatives of industry identified some “key barriers” to equipping for ADS-B, which include the cost of upgrading GPS receivers, the need for lower-cost avionics, the availability of products, current certification procedures and ensuring that repair stations have the capacity to complete installations by the deadline, the FAA said.
They “agreed to work together to resolve” issues delaying equipage through the Equip 2020 working group. That group will meet under the aegis of the NextGen Institute, an organization formed in 2005 by the FAA and the National Center for Advanced Technologies, a non-profit research foundation affiliated with the Aerospace Industries Association. With the appointment in January of former Air Force Maj. Gen. Marke “Hoot” Gibson as its executive director, the institute is becoming more prominent in efforts to advance the FAA’s NextGen ATC modernization, of which ADS-B is an important component.