ADS-B in Europe
Flying with a Mode S transponder is the established way to make you visible to ATC, commercial and military traffic. Mode S also benefits the pilot — easing your transition through controlled airspace. However, by adding GPS position data to an ADS-B capable transponder, when suitably configured the output transmission becomes ADS-B Out.
Once equipped with ADS-B Out, other aircraft equipped with traffic receivers (known as ADS-B In) can see a real-time electronic display of ADS-B Out transmitting aircraft in their vicinity. A traffic display, such as a tablet or cockpit display, provides a view of the surrounding skies. This significantly improves a pilot’s situational awareness and can be an aid to collision avoidance — particularly in VFR conditions.
Mode S benefits the pilot, easing your transition through controlled airspace.
Most general aviation pilots will be able to share stories about the aircraft that they didn’t see, or the one that got too close! While ADS-B is no substitute for a visual look-out, it can be a useful supplementary tool.
Thankfully, mid-air collisions are rare, but maintaining safe separation and getting an enhanced awareness ‘electronically’ has the potential to improve safety.
‘See and avoid’ is now supplemented by ‘sense and avoid’, for aircraft beyond visual range or which may otherwise not be seen until it is too late.
Is There a Mandate for ADS-B in Europe?
If ADS-B Out is about being seen, and ADS-B In is about seeing other aircraft, what do I need to install in my aircraft? And what is the regulatory position in Europe?
In the United States all aircraft that wish to fly in ADS-B airspace need to be ADS-B Out equipped, under the 2020 ADS-B mandate. In Europe, whilst ADS-B has been in us by commercial operators, there is currently no mandate for general aviation. EASA’s philosophy for ADS-B is to encourage voluntary adoption, amongst GA pilots. The objective is to improve safety and reduce the risk of air to air collision. Voluntary use of ADS-B in Europe does not afford any privileges to airspace access over Mode S.
aircraft with traffic receivers see a real-time electronic display of ADS-B Out transmitting aircraft in their vicinity.
In other parts of the world, such as Australia, New Zealand and South Africa regulators are encouraging the use of Mode S and ADS-B is being rolled out. The specific timing and introduction of these plans can be checked with regulators Australia, New Zealand and South Africa.
How Can I Fit ADS-B Out Equipment?
By far the most practical means to become ADS-B equipped is to use your existing Mode S (ADS-B Out capable) transponder as the hub for electronic visibility.
In April 2019 EASA released CS-STAN Revision 3, this simplifies the installation process for ADS-B Out and allows the use of existing GPS technology. As an example, an EASA certified aircraft with a Trig transponder only needs an additional two wires to be connected from an existing GPS to become ADS-B Out capable.
The installation and paperwork can all be completed locally, via an approved facility; your aircraft will then be more visible using ADS-B Out.
An alternative option, when no existing GPS is available is a TN72. This GPS position source can be used with the transponder to achieve ADS-B Out. Type certified, light-sport aircraft, gliders and microlights can all benefit from using the TN72.
Some pilots may decide to invest in a cheaper, uncertified GPS solution for their ADS-B set up. One significant drawback of using an uncertified GPS is that some popular traffic devices will not see you, because they are designed to reject low-quality, uncertified GPS information. The TN72, in contrast, uses a certified GPS chipset, which makes it visible to all ADS-B In traffic receivers.
Get Equipped but Keep a Good Look Out!
As ADS-B experts, Trig Avionics played a key role in Project EVA in 2016. This was a European Union backed, NATS-led technology demonstration project and involved real-world flight trials using ADS-B equipment. The objective was to demonstrate the use of ADS-B technology in various aircraft types and flight confliction scenarios.
While it was clear that electronic conspicuity provided benefits, technical performance and human factors were also assessed. Interestingly, this showed a potential to rely upon electronic traffic information, even at the risk of compromising the critical visual look-out.
Pilot training in the practical use of ADS-B equipment and growing the level of voluntary equipage within GA were two important Project EVA recommendations.
Using ADS-B equipment will deliver genuine safety improvements.
It’s easy to boost your visibility, resulting in improved safety for you and your passengers. U.S. pilots who fly all the time with ADS-B claim that they simply wouldn’t fly without it.