ADS-B Get Ready for 2020!

by HPA · June 14, 2016

ADS-B Get Ready for 2020!

John Hollingshead, Commercial Pilot, CFI, CFII, MEI

The ADS-B Mandate is just around the corner. By January 1, 2020, everyone will need to be on board with ADS-B when flying in any airspace that currently requires Mode C transponder. A lot of the discussion I have seen online about ADS-B has been focused on the politics. There is a great deal of resistance to the ADS-B mandate due to the financial burden it places on aircraft owners. Groups such as AOPA are actively advocating for aircraft owners in an attempt to delay the mandate. Regardless of your feelings about whether ADS-B is a benefit, it would be wise to be prepared for the mandate.

This article is a non-political look at what ADS-B is, advantages to pilots, where it will be required, and what it will cost.

ATC Radar and the National Airspace System

Most controlled airspace in the US is covered by either primary radar or secondary radar. Primary radar is what most people think of when they hear the term RADAR (Radio Direction And Range). A signal is transmitted from a ground station that is reflected off of the target. The signal return time is used to calculate the distance to the target, and a bearing is determined based on the direction the rotating antenna is pointed when the return is received.Radar Display

Secondary radar transmits an interrogation signal which is received and retransmitted by a transponder on board the aircraft. The transponder transmits a four digit transponder code (Mode A), pressure altitude (Mode C), and with some transponders, identification, location, and status (Mode S).

Mode C reporting transponders are required when in controlled airspace above 10,000 ft MSL and 2,500 ft AGL, Class A, B, and C airspace, within 30NM of a Class B Airport, above the ceiling and within the lateral boundaries of Class B airspace, and crossing the US Air Defense Identification Zone (ADIZ).

Air Traffic Control

What is ADS-B?

ADS-B (Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast) combines a Mode S Transponder or a Universal Access Transceiver with a WAAS GPS receiver to broadcast an aircraft’s location, identification, and altitude (with 25 ft resolution). It provides higher accuracy than traditional radar systems and allows for reduction of aircraft separation distances, as well as a faster update time.

ADS-B Transmission (ADS-B Out) can be accomplished by either a Mode S Transponder (AKA 1090MHz Extended Squitter), which is required above 18,000 ft MSL, or a Universal Access Transceiver (also known as 987 MHz).

“ADS-B In” describes a few different technologies:

  • TIS-B (Traffic Information System-Broadcast)
    • An ADS-B receiver will display altitude, ground track, speed, and distance of aircraft in radar contact, and of ADS-B equipped aircraft within reception range (minimum 15 nm radius and +/- 3,500 ft)
  • ADS-R: Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Rebroadcast
    • Ground based rebroadcast of 978 MHz UAT signals on the 1090ES band, and 1090ES signals on the 978 UAT band
    • Gives pilots a comprehensive view of air traffic
  • FIS-B (Flight Information System-Broadcast)
    • Broadcasts graphical weather radar
    • METARS
    • NOTAMS and TFRs
    • Significant Weather Activity

Aircraft equipped only with ADS-B out won’t experience any direct benefits in the cockpit, but full adoption of ADS-B will provide more efficiency in the ATC system due to increased automation and decreased controller workload.

ADS-B In capability can provide some outstanding decision making tools, including Weather, NOTAMS, TFRs, and traffic.

  • FAR 91.225 Beginning January 1, 2020:
    • Class A, B, and C Airspace
    • “Mode C Veil” Areas
    • Above the ceiling and within lateral boundaries of Class B and C Airspace
    • Class E Airspace within the 48 contiguous United States and the District of Columbia, at and above 10,000 ft MSL while above 2,500 ft AGL
    • Class E Airspace At and Above 3,000 Ft MSL over the Gulf of Mexico from the coastline to 12 NM off shore


ADS-B CostADS-B upgrades can start as low as $6,000, and when combined with other upgrades (such as Primary Flight Displays, GPS navigators, et cetera) can exceed $30,000.

For a Non-WAAS equipped aircraft that doesn’t climb above 18,000 ft MSL, a Universal Access Transceiver with an integrated WAAS GPS can be added to the aircraft without changing any of the panel avionics. This device will monitor the existing transponder and transmit ADS-B information alongside the normal transponder responses. This does not add WAAS navigation capability, nor does it add ADS-B in capability. Most installs of this nature are about $6,000.

For an aircraft equipped with a Garmin WAAS GPS receiver, you have a few options. A Garmin GTX 345 can be installed, which provides ADS-B Out (1090 ES) and ADS-B In (Dual Link). This unit displays TIS-B and FIS-B on compatible displaces, includes iPad to Panel Interface (Connext Link/FlightStream), and can be remote mounted if needed. Most installs for this unit run about $8,000.Garmin GTX345

Another option for WAAS equipped aircraft is the Trig TT31 or TT22 transponder, which provides ADS-B Out (1090ES) and displays TIS-B Traffic Data on compatible displays. It has no FIS-B capability, however. Most installs will run about $6,000.

For the G1000 equipped aircraft, either with WAAS or Non-WAAS, the Garmin GTX 345R can be installed, which will add TIS-B and FIS-B information to the G1000. For WAAS G1000 most installs will run about $8,000, and for Non-WAAS G1000s, most installs will run about $9,000. Unfortunately, the add-on WAAS receiver will not add WAAS Navigation capability to your G1000. Software upgrades are available for most G1000 Singles and Twins to support this ADS-B Out Upgrade.G1000 Upgrade

Avionics shops are reporting that most installations will take about a week, and they are encouraging customers to get their airplanes in soon. We are less than 4 years from the mandate, and the shops are going to get booked. Also, the FAA has recently announced a $500 rebate for the first 20,000 qualifying Single Engine Piston upgrades with a program that launches this fall.

How it Started

One of my best friends in high school, (Doug Gray) was a private pilot. He offered to take me up for a flight in a 1967 Cessna 150, N6228S. We took off from Calhoun, Georgia, and he took me on a scenic tour of the area, I was hooked. I later found out that my English teacher, (Jan Haluska) was also a flight instructor and the school was offering a ground school course the next year, which he taught, along with flight training with the goal of becoming a private pilot. I managed to talk my dad into funding the training, at the time the total cost was right around $500. Cessna 150 rental rates where $12 an hour, and the 172 we used for cross country was $15 an hour including fuel.

Training Begins

It started August of 1977. The fall semester rolls around, and I am enrolled in ground school, and if memory serves me, we met twice a week. First came the paperwork for my student pilot certificate, which at the time was included with the 3rd class medical. I loved ground school, especially learning navigation, plotting courses on the sectional, again this was before iPads and GPS, so we did a lot of dead reckoning and VOR navigation for cross countries. At the end of the course, I made an 83% on the Private Pilot written exam, remember this was before we had the question-and-answer books that on future test I would consume before taking a written.

2022.06.09 11.19 Flyhpa 62a27fea7716a


The fun really began on August 22, 1977, it was my first flight. To my surprise we used the same Cessna 150, N6228S that my friend Doug Gray had taken me for a ride in. The Cessna 150 had a standard VFR instrument panel, with one NAV/COM, and one VOR CDI. No intercom, so no headset, at the time I didn’t know what I was missing. I didn’t get my first headset until I started my instrument training in 2003. I was a big guy, I was 6’ 4” and weighed 245 lbs. but I do not remember being uncomfortable in the 150 even with the instructor in the right seat.

First flight lasted .8 hours, and we accomplished orentation, shallow turns, stability, and effects of flight controls. Over the next few months we added steep 720’s, slow flight, stalls, turns around a point, S-turns, emergencies, landings, (short field, soft field and normal).


At this point I want to talk about a training experience that still stands out. We were close to solo and were practicing takeoffs and landings. Turning base to final Jan got very upset at the way I was cross controlling the aircraft. Cross control is when you are in, say a left turn, and use opposite rudder to line the nose up with the runway. So, he had me depart the pattern and head east to the practice area, and climbing up to 5500 feet MSL, he had me slow down to just above stalling speed, start a left shallow turn and add right rudder. As the airplane stalled I had the strangest sensation, no roller coaster has ever come close, instead of blue sky in the windscreen I was looking at brown ground, and as far as I could tell we were upside down, through the terror of the moment Jan talked me out of the spin, controls neutral, oposite rudder, pull slowly out of the dive. As we leveled off he asked me what altitude we were at, as I remember it was around 2,800 feet MSL. Then he asked me what would happen if I experenced this on base to final in the traffic pattern. The answer was obvious, I would be a pile of wreckage off the end of the runway with a very short-lived aviation career. Needless to say this cured my cross-control tendencies.

Another training event the sticks out in my mind was the first time we did takeoffs and landings at the High School runway. The runway was 1,500 feet long, not sure of the width, but it seems like we had about 5 feet on each side of the wheels when on the center line of the runway. Landing from the south you also had to go between a cutout in the trees to be able to stop in time on the runway. After getting confortable landing here every runway since seemed huge. I remember landing at Chattanooga (KCHA) on a night cross country and commenting to Jan, that I felt like I could of landed sideways on the runway, it felt that large.

Very soon after this I started wearing old shirts to all my flight lessons, the reason for this occurred on February 8, 1978. The lesson that day was stalls, takeoffs and Landing. As we were taxing back in Jan told me it was time for my first solo. I was very excited, and after some last minute advice from Jan, including watch for floating on landing the plane will be light with him not in the right seat, complete 3 takeoffs and landings to a full stop. It was a blast, and at the end of my shirt was shorter in the back because Jan cut the tail out of it signed and dated my solo [an aviation tradition]. Total flight time accumulated on the day of my solo was 18.1 hours. I was now officially a pilot with solo priveleges.

In my next article I start cross country training, when Jan decided that it would be best accomplished this in the 172. Checking out in N5970R was like moving into a 747, this started a love affair with one of my faviriote planes to date. Since this time I have flown over 900 hours in many different models of the 172 and feel like I am stepping into an old friend every time.

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