The deadline is 1/1/2020.  It’s coming up fast!  Don’t bet on the date being pushed out!

How ready are we?  General aviation compliance does not look good.

ADS-B Airspace Requirements. Source FAA

The FAA has as many as 160,000 registered general aviation aircraft that could require ADS-B Out.  As February 2019, only 52,039 general aviation aircraft have been equipped. That means a lot of planes – over 100,000 need refitting and fast.

Inevitably some planes will be confined to hangars on Jan 2nd next year..

The lack of urgency is shown by the performance of the FAA ADS-B rebate incentive program that ended in Sept., 2017.  There were 20,000 checks available – a $10m program – and 13,000 went unclaimed.  Even free money got little traction.  The FAA just announced another rebate that runs to Oct., 2019, to help push refits, but results so far are sketchy, and given the overall numbers above, uptake looks limited at best.

Not all the 160,000 general aviation airplanes listed on the FAA registry need to be fitted with ADS-B avionics.  Many owners of older and very light general aviation aircraft will simply choose to fly outside of ADS-B airspace.  For them, the cost to upgrade isn’t justified for aircraft with low hull values.

Among general aviation’s turbine community, the picture is also bad.  Business jets and turboprops must fly in ADS-B airspace, so ADS-B equipage is an absolute necessity. Still, the latest data I have shows that only 5,817 turbine GA airplanes have been equipped for ADS-B among a fleet that numbers about 18,000 – less than a third.  MROs are going to be plenty busy for the balance of 2019.

The level of work that needs to be done is mixed:  new business jets are rolling off production lines already equipped, and slightly older airplanes with the latest avionics packages from Honeywell Aerospace, Garmin and Rockwell Collins often require only a software update or some minor hardware replacements.

However, older bizjets are in for a shock as costs can reach well above $100,000 for the ADS-B transponders, WAAS GPS receivers and antennas, which also require some serious installation downtime, resulting in a major loss of operating revenue for some operators.

FAA says the ADS-B compliance date will not change.

The FAA has said repeatedly that the deadline for ADS-B compliance is not going to change.  It's simple to see why.

The agency gave the aviation industry a decade to comply, avionics solutions are readily available, and  perhaps most important, the bigger airlines are on a path to achieve near total compliance on time, so there appears to be very little chance that the mandate will be extended beyond January 1, 2020.

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Source of some data: FlyingMag