By Howard Deevers
Welcome to 2020, and Happy New Year. For the last decade we have been talking about ADS-B and that it is required after January 1, 2020. Even as the deadline loomed, there were many pilots that still did not know that they would be required to equip their airplanes. I would ask plane owners if they had equipped their planes and how. I had many owners respond with, “What's that?” Where have they been living for the past 10 years?
Of course, there was that ‘mad dash’ to the finish line with owners trying to get the equipment installed. I am one of those ‘minute men’ owners as well, waiting to almost the last minute to get the job done. Mine was installed in November. I finally found the ADS-B solution that I liked, looked okay, and that I could afford. For around $2,000.00 (plus AZ sales tax) I have that cute little tail light beacon ADS-B out and can legally fly in controlled airspace. I also have the ADS-B in that will display on my ever-present iPad via the Stratus receiver and have been using that for a couple of years already.
Just because we turned a page on the calendar does not mean that this adventure is over; it is just beginning. As with all other electronics innovations we have seen in the past, there will be more advances in this technology as well. Count on it. GPS came on the market over 30 years ago, and it looked nothing at all like the glass panels we now see in airplanes today. In 1919 and 1920, 100 years ago, there were no radios in airplanes, and pilots were trying to fly US Mail across the country by following the railroad tracks or other ground features.
Radios did make their way into airplanes, and then navigation by radio developed rather quickly, with the ADF/NDB and the VOR technology that is still in use today. Radios improved from tube types to much more reliable transistor radios. WWII saw huge developments in electronics. Then the 'space race' brought us the GPS system and its improvements. Some systems came, and went, like the LORAN system. Although there is some discussion about a new eLoran system to act as a back up to the GPS, should it ever be jammed or shut down. Is that possible? Just ask yourself if you have ever had your email or Facebook account hacked!
According to surveys that I have read, about 74% that responded said that they have already equipped. Only about 17% said that they would not need ADS-B for the type of flying they do. Some pilots were under the impression that without ADS-B out, you could not fly at all. That is not the case, but without it, you will be limited. That means that you can not go into or over the Class B or C airspace, including the mode C veil, or above 10,000 feet. Class A airspace is not open to most of us anyway because we don't have an airplane that will fly that high (above 18,000 feet MSL). If you are only flying around VFR in the vast spaces of the Mid-West where it is easy to avoid such spaces, you may be able to get along just fine. My guess is that more and more planes will equip in the future anyway.
So, what does the future hold for us? I don't really have a crystal ball to predict the future (those weren't very accurate anyway), but by looking back we can get an idea about how things might look in the future. The airplane I learned to fly in had one NAV/COM and no transponder. I know that there are some airplanes without transponders even today. I don't have numbers but can guess that I would not want to fly an airplane without a transponder.
It is nice to be able to see other traffic on my iPad with the ADS-B in, and I suspect that we will find that to be very useful as time goes by. With the automation of new autopilots, it could be possible for the ADS-B to detect other aircraft, and automatically slow us down to the proper approach speed on an ILS approach and fit us into the approach. Neat stuff, if you can afford it.
I don't expect technology to stop evolving and I don't expect that the “Next-Gen” with ADS-B will be the last new gadget that we will love. After all, the iPad was not even on the market when Next-Gen was first announced. I just hope that what we have will be good enough so that we don't have to invest another $10,000.00 or more into our panels in the next few years.
No matter what you fly or what is in your panel, your ARIZONA PILOTS ASSOCIATION is dedicated to protecting your right to fly, and to keeping the skies of Arizona safe. Check the website for a free safety seminar in your area, and “don't forget to ‘Bring your wingman!’”