ADS-B system diagram
1 min read
ADS-B system diagram

ADS-B involves ground stations, GPS satellites and panel-installed avionics.

Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast (ADS-B) is an awkward phrase that was virtually unknown to pilots just a few years ago. Today, as the 2020 deadline approaches for equipping with ADS-B Out–and as a slew of portable ADS-B receivers hit the market–pilots are starting to learn what this new system really entails. But not everyone likes what they see.

Proponents of ADS-B argue that it moves the United States from an outdated, ground-based air traffic control system to a modern, satellite-based system. This should improve airspace capacity, offer more direct routings and maybe even improve safety. In addition, ADS-B offers subscription-free weather and traffic to anyone with the proper equipment–and these benefits can be enjoyed now, before the entire program is in place. So while nobody likes to spend money, the benefits of ADS-B are significant for the relatively low cost of avionics.

Opponents retort that ADS-B is years late and billions of dollars over budget. Even when it’s completed, the FAA requirement to have a panel-mounted ADS-B Out transponder in controlled airspace will force aircraft owners to spend money they don’t have. Most of the benefits are for ATC and the FAA, while most of the expense falls on individual pilots. Many airplanes may simply be sold or abandoned, as owners leave aviation rather than pay for the upgrades. That’s not to mention the potential for ADS-B to be hacked by criminals.

What do you think? Is ADS-B a bright future that should be embraced by pilots? Or is it a needless expense that will drive more people out of aviation? Add your comments below.

Air Facts Staff
43 replies
  1. E. CORTES
    E. CORTES says:

    The system would be more inclusive if the FAA could establish an expedited, efficient and reasonable process to certify ADS-B out transponders. A lean certification process could allow companies like ICOM, VAL, and maybe even Dynon, MGL and Trutrac to jump in and produce reasonably priced certified hardware, creating some price competition. The concern is, this is being implemented by the FAA, a stagnant bureaucracy not known to be innovative or efficient in any way or form, and not likely to relax the certification process. (They won’t even approve an obvious no-brainer like driver licenses in lieu of medical, for private pilots) We may end up with just Garmin and Bendix King being able to afford the certification process for ADS-B out transponders, which could price a lot of us out of participation.

    • Russ MacDonald
      Russ MacDonald says:


      The equipment is not required until 2020 – seven years from now. I have no doubt that every major manufacturer will sell these boxes, and that the price will come WAY down as the deadline nears.

  2. Steve Phoenix
    Steve Phoenix says:

    Some things you just have to try to find out if they are good or not; this may be one of those things. Seems like having an accurate picture of the traffic around you would be a good thing. But in order for that to work everybody has to have the gizmos and, right now, they seem inordinately expensive.

    I don’t necessarily think a lot of planes will be sold or abandoned, as suggested, because there is still a lot of space out there that does not require mode C. They might get cheaper for a while, but if the experience is good, those planes will eventually get equipped.

  3. Jim D
    Jim D says:

    When the FAA adopted the Mode C standard, a scientist at the FAA Tom Amlie I believe his name was, promoted a Mode C standard that would enable location information to be passed along with the transponder code. Everybody thought he was crazy and refused to listen to him. The incremental cost was almost zero. Had we done that, Mode C would be compatible with ADS-B. somewhat everybody is railing at is a regulatory infrastructure that creates situations like this where seemingly small, incremental upgrades cost much more than they should because regulation constrains instead of prompting innovation. In any case it makes no sense to me why ADS-B boxes would cost any more than a transponder. The answer is probably again regulation. It’s very sad, waste on top of waste. If it moves us toward free flight though, it may still be the right thing to do. There remain many unknowns.

  4. Tom Yarsley
    Tom Yarsley says:

    Would you design – and mandate – an air traffic control system that was reliant upon 100% performance of three serially critical components, and still at its core was human-intervention-based?

    Radar may be primitive, but it has the advantage of being independent. ADS-B relies completely upon:
    1. An always-working ADS-B transmitter.
    2. An always-working source of position information (a linked GPS navigator).
    3. An always-working GPS satellite constellation.

    This is exactly what happens when administrators, bureaucrats, and politicians conflate empowerment with competency, when it comes to making engineering decisions.

    If any one of those three components listed above fails, that aircraft becomes completely invisible both to other aircraft and to ground-based traffic controllers. Think about that.

    In engineering, there’s a saying: “Even the best execution of a flawed concept is itself fatally flawed.”

    Radar-implemented Mode-C / Mode-S would break the serial-critical-component paradigm upon which ADS-B is completely reliant.

    While we’re at it, we should restore Loran-C domestic service, as a low-cost, highly-reliable backup to GPS. Shutting it down was moronic, at best. Just wait until the next truly impressive solar-storm event happens. Still wanna ride that GPS down to LPV minimums?

    Fly safely!

    • Russ MacDonald
      Russ MacDonald says:

      As has been said at least twice in this thread, the existing radar based system is NOT going away! ADS-B capability is simply being added to it for added safety and efficiency. If the ADS-B equipment goes out, the controllers will simply stop the direct routing and go back to using the existing system.

      And, Loran was a horrible system. It was not universal around the world, and it was terribly inaccurate. VOR navigation, RADAR, and mode C transponders are what back up satellite navigation, and all of those will still be there with or without GPS or ADS-B.

      • bruce buchanan
        bruce buchanan says:

        Russ, loran was a BARGAIN backup system. while it was somewhat inaccurate at sea, my Northstar M-1 and Garmin 430 were never were more that one/tenth of a mile apart (and only for one or two seconds)while traveling between florida and tennessee. I agree with Tom…ADS-B puts all the marbles in one basket.

  5. Louis
    Louis says:

    I find it amazing that the governement is mandating things they don’t pay for, yet want user fees. A government that for years has opposed marijuana and argues how it leads to stronger drugs. A government that argues with states for medicinal use of this substance, yet medical literature i read today say they are pushing to allow for its use for non medicinal purposes soley for the revenue potental – like lifting prohibition. The governement wants money money money. They are soley money hungry and yet want to spend our money as our taxes, user fees, and now this. Great government to try to shut down GA that supports so many taxable jobs while AirForce One is taken everywhere, for what I believe it not government reasons. I support the techonology for safety reasons, but i do not support our government making poorer pilots pay for their benefit. I know nothing about Loran as it was ended before my private pilot training, but the comment about bringing it back makes sense – from my limited experience and many pilots have lorans still in their planes. May God Bless our country and her loving pilots and supporters of GA!

  6. Russ MacDonald
    Russ MacDonald says:

    I feel the ADS-B OUT requirement is very reasonable. It will provide additional safety for everyone, even those who choose to have only the ‘OUT’ equipment. Of course, I suspect that everyone will want the full ADS-B OUT/IN so they will be able to see the weather and the other traffic as well as transmitting their own info.

    The ATC radar based system that is now in place will not be shut down. It will be retained as a backup.

    Also, as the ADS-B OUT installation numbers increase, the cost will decrease. As an electrical engineer, judging by the complexity of the required ADS-B OUT circuitry, my guess is that the cost by 2020 will be less than a tank of gas.

    Portable ADS-B IN boxes (Stratus, Garmin, etc), which are NOT required in 2020, are already available for about $800, and many pilots are already using one of these.

    Lastly, the ADS-B OUT is only required for Class C and Class B airspace. If you live in an area where you can avoid Class B and Class C airspace, you won’t have to install ADS-B OUT or IN.

    So, as a pilot who regularly flies IFR, I am looking forward to installing the full ADS-B IN/OUT system in my plane (after the cost comes down a bit).

    • Tom Yarsley
      Tom Yarsley says:


      Retaining the entire existing Radar as a “backup” will be of no use – for the very reasons that you mention. In order for ATC to “see” non-participating (no ADS-B out) aircraft, the Radar data will have to be integrated with the ADS-B data, and the composite displayed on controllers’ screens. That’s not a backup. It’s perpetual full-time employment of twice the hardware, maintenance, and overhead – to get the same result. Not a good use of technology or money. How long do you think that the FAA will maintain their legacy Radar hardware? They sold this NEXGEN pile of @#$% in part based on assurances that they’d save a bundle of money by phasing out legacy systems – both VavAids and Radar. Then they turned off Loran – the only reliable existing nationwide navigation alternative to GPS. Sometimes I think that, if brains were dynamite, these guys couldn’t blow their noses.

      • Russ MacDonald
        Russ MacDonald says:

        What I meant by ‘backup’ was that if the ADS-B equipment fails on an aircraft or on the ground, the radar/transponder system that is currently in use will still be available to control traffic. The addition of ADS-B equipment, both airborne and ground based, is a relatively small addition to the overall system.

        I really don’t see anything wrong with adding ADS-B IN/OUT to the current system to make flying safer and more efficient. The one-time cost will be very reasonable to pilots.

    • Pete Hodges
      Pete Hodges says:

      If you think the cost of ADS-B will decrease as production numbers go up, I think you should look at GARMIN’s recent business practices as an example that they will remain high.

      GARMIN has made every effort possible to eliminate bare-bones NVA-COM-GPS units from service without looking like that is what they are doing. Just look at the Apollo GX-60 GPS-NAV-COM. Garmin bought Apollo during the economic downturn, is not supporting them for the long term, and is phasing them out without a decently priced replacement. If the screen goes, you are DONE. GARMIN says they can’t get new screens, but new screens were built from scratch by Apollo. So, what GARMIN is really saying is that the WON’T get new screens. Garmin wants to sell higher priced products with fancy bells and whistles on them. They don’t accomplish navigation any better, but they do cost a lot more to buy and maintain.

      ADS-B getting cheaper? NOT!

      • Russ MacDonald
        Russ MacDonald says:

        @Pete, Garmin is in this to make as much money as they can. It all depends on competition, and you will soon see numerous manufacturers building ADS-B Out equipment. Garmin may be the leader, now, but at the prices they are asking today, they cannot possibly remain in the lead for long. They will reduce their prices to remain competitive.

        Don’t underestimate the power of technological innovation. Who knows where that will lead us?

        Currently, the highest cost of achieving the ‘Out’ capability is a certified WAAS GPS, because the position information from a standard GPS is not accurate enough. I can easily see GPS makers building a low cost certified WAAS GPS receivers just for the ADS-B Out requirement.

        There are two ways to get the ‘Out’ function. UAT (978 MHz)or ES (1090 MHz).

        If you happen to have an S mode transponder, ES (Extended Squitter) technology can be added that will transmit the required ‘Out’ data. I can envision all transponder manufacturers designing this capability into all transponders which will greatly reduce the added cost of the ‘Out’ requirement.

        I’m not sure about the future of the UAT. It is basically another digital transmitter just to transmit the ‘Out’ data. That seems excessive to me. If you already have an S mode transmitter, it may be less expensive to add ES.

        It’s way too early to tell what the ‘Out’ capability will cost by 2020, but history has shown that it will come way down from the initial solutions.

  7. Mel Eaton
    Mel Eaton says:

    It’s a money maker for someone. I venture to say most the private pilots in the world are plenty safe without this set of bells and whistles. We already watch our cockpit televisions and fail to look outside and fly our airplanes.

    • Russ MacDonald
      Russ MacDonald says:


      Of course it’s a money-maker for someone. We live in a capitalist country. You don’t think that technological advancements happen for free, do you? Someone must always make money in order to keep new and safer technology flowing into our cockpits.

      Also, I would guess that many of the pilots who fly only for fun and on a shoestring, will not be required to install it. Remember that ADS-B Out will not be required unless you fly in or under Class B or Class C areas or above certain altitudes. It will not required for most of the US.

      However, I believe the cost will be low enough that most pilots will want it.

  8. R. Kipling
    R. Kipling says:

    No one has convinced me that it’s absolutely necessary, or that it’s the best way to spot airplanes in controlled airspace. From what I’ve read it has a lot of problems and a huge cost associated with it.

    If the FAA had a “first do no harm” mandate, ADS-B would not exist. It’s time to follow the money on this one. Man, how I long for the days when ships were made of wood, and men were made of iron.


    • Russ MacDonald
      Russ MacDonald says:


      Why does something have to be ‘absolutely necessary’? Heck it’s not ‘absolutely necessary’ that we fly at all. We could all ride buses.

      The development costs of the ADS-B system are largely behind us now, and those were the big costs. There are still quite a few more ground stations that need to be built, but that cost is already included in the FAA budget.

      Our individual costs per pilot are really quite small compared to the overall cost of flying.

      To me, anything that can improve the ATC system efficiency and enhance safety at an affordable price should be implemented.

  9. Don Woodbridge
    Don Woodbridge says:

    I totally understand the frustration of aircraft owners being told that they will need to add another expensive widget to their aircraft.

    However, ADS-B does provide many benefits that the present system does not, including the ability to see other traffic in your cockpit. The WAAS GPS system has proved itself reliable enough that it is depended on for precision approaches. During instrument training it was stressed to me that the current system does not guarantee separation between IFR and VFR traffic. Checking the NTSB accident data base shows that mid air collisions do occur, and they are usually fatal. I welcome a system that will give me an early warning of an impending mid-air collision, and guidance to avoid it. I also welcome the weather data, cockpit data link, etc.

    Now the key is to make sure that the required equipment is available from a number of competing vendors so that the cost will be reasonable.


  10. Karl Vogelheim
    Karl Vogelheim says:

    ADS-B is a wonderful system for the FAA as it will save them a lot of money over the years. They will be shutting down approximately half the VORs, all of the DMEs, and I’m unsure what will happen to the TACANs. There will be no new ILS systems installed though supposedly they will retain the existing ILS systems. There will be some radars retained because the military required it. Otherwise the FAA would have shut down all of the radar systems to save money. So, while there are a number of free items (weather as an example), I will have to wait and see if there will really be a benefit to ADS-B. As long as NOTHING ever happens to the GPS system, ADS-B will be fine. The first time it hiccups, especially in bad IFR conditions, we shall see if it is all that great.

  11. Jack
    Jack says:

    In talking to Garmin at Sun-N-Fun, trying to figure out how to get my “non-WAAS” G1000 upgraded to ADS-B, this will not be cheap. WAAS is required (almost $20K upgrade as the GPS antennas need to be upgraded on my plane + G1000 upgrade) and a software upgrade on the G1000 then ADD the ADS-B module which is separate from the G1000. It is not a transponder swap as I was told several years ago. I will sell the plane before i spend that kind of money upgrading a 4 passenger (or 2+) single.

    However, the 406 upgrade was painless, less that $1500 and that didn’t hurt too much (need to fly to Canada and Mexico).

    • Russ MacDonald
      Russ MacDonald says:

      Yes, your costs are high, but let’s keep this in perspective.

      You are talking about adding ADS-B IN and OUT with extended squitter, and you want it to use your in-panel GPS. That’s the full system, and that is expensive.

      The only thing REQUIRED in 2020 will be ADS-B OUT, and that box will probably cost under $500 by then – and it’s only required if you fly in Specific places, Class C or Class B airspace (or above or below them).

  12. Paul Swingle
    Paul Swingle says:

    Tell me again what problem is being solved? As far as I can tell, there is no problem keeping track of aircraft in Class B or C space, where all the cogestion is. There is a need in remote areas like Alaska, the Gulf of Mexico, low over mountains, and over the oceans that have no radar coverage.

    What if each plane just transmitted its position at random intervals at very low power. Only planes nearby would care. Listening to these transmissions would very easily (cheaply) alert on collission threats. Of course this would also work well in terminal areas.

    • Russ MacDonald
      Russ MacDonald says:

      Each plane cannot just transmit its position randomly. If two planes transmitted at the same time, the two messages would collide and jam each other. The system has to synchronize this whole operation, which requires very high speed computers.

  13. Russ MacDonald
    Russ MacDonald says:

    @Paul, ADS-B by itself does not solve any problems. It’s when you couple it with the new computer system that it solves problems.

    The major hubs in the US are all at or above saturation. Too many aircraft are trying to use the same airways and standard GPS routes at the same time. This results in ATC enforcing ‘metering’, holding, and rerouting, which all slows down the overall system across the entire country. When all aircraft at the high density hubs have ADS-B Out, the exact GPS position of every aircraft will show on the ATC radar screens, without the lag that occurs with radar. This will allow traffic to be spaced much closer together, both in time and distance. Plus, there is almost no limit to the number of new parallel GPS routes that can be handled.

    But, none of these problems occur in lower density traffic areas, outside of C and B airspace, which is why you won’t need ADS-B there.

    There is also a big advantage to aircraft with full ADS-B OUT/IN equipment. They can ‘see’ all the nearby aircraft that have ADS-B Out without the need for a ground station. This means that in remote areas like Alaska and Wyoming, the fully equipped aircraft will still be able to see nearby traffic. This feature is similar to TCAS, although TCAS was much more expensive and far less accurate. Even so, TCAS will remain fully supported indefinitely.

    So, if you fly IFR a lot, you will definitely want to add ADS-B IN to take full advantage of all the new features. Then, whenever you fly near one of the hundreds of ground stations scattered across the country, you will receive free weather and notams and be able to see all the traffic with ADS-B OUT equipment that that ground station is communicating with. These ‘IN’ receivers are already available from several suppliers for about $800. I expect that to come down in price drastically over the next few years. But you can see that without the ‘OUT’ capability, the system can’t see you. That’s why the mandate for ‘OUT’ equipment in high density areas.

  14. Jim D
    Jim D says:

    I’d think that the nature of the saturation Russ refers to depends on the number of runways. For example, at peak, LGA has all the traffic it can handle on its runways. Adding airborne capacity won’t help there. Near LAX, adding airborne capacity might help a lot.

    I’m trying to draw a conclusion from all the notes here. I guess my conclusion is “heck, I dunno”.

  15. Tom Yarsley
    Tom Yarsley says:

    “without the ‘OUT’ capability, the system can’t see you.” Indeed. If the GPS satellite network becomes unreliable (sunspots, terror crisis, etc.); if your GPS navigator becomes unreliable (power failure, datalink failure, just plain turned off); if your ADS-B out device becomes unreliable (power failure, just plain turned off); the system indeed will be unable to see you.

    Only an engineering moron would design a human-safety-critical system that is dependent upon three serial critical elements. If a freshman engineering student gave me a term paper that proposed such a system, I’d give him/her a D – only because I have low expectations of freshmen. Upperclassmen would get an F.

  16. Russ MacDonald
    Russ MacDonald says:

    @Tom, I don’t understand why you say what you did. Maybe you just want to argue.

    FOR THE FOURTH TIME IN THIS THREAD: if the GPS system goes out, the ENTIRE CURRENT RADAR/TRANSPONDER SYSTEM is still available to control traffic, navigating by VORs and radar vectors, JUST LIKE WE DO TODAY!!!

    ADS-B is ONLY AN ADDITION to the current system!!!

    I just don’t see what is so complicated about this? Everyone is complaining about ADS-B without understanding it.

    • Tom Yarsley
      Tom Yarsley says:

      Russ, quite simply: you are wrong. It doesn’t matter how many times you repeat your nonsense. The FAA has made it very clear that they intend to phase out the vast majority of their Radar stations. They cite the projected cost savings as partial justification for their NEXGEN program.

      For the record, as a practicing design engineer for the last four decades (and a CFII), I actually do understand a few things – including ADS-B. As I have pointed out herein, it is a conceptually flawed design. Its failure mode is “fatal” – when it fails (not IF it fails), aircraft will disappear from controllers’ displays AND from in-cockpit displays. In an ATC vectors environment in IMC, that’s a recipe for disaster.

      In the days before we had today’s Radar/vectors environment (and in places where we still don’t have it), traffic was/is separated based on position reports and good old time/speed calculations. The key factor in all of that is the position reports. Those require two things: the aircraft/pilot must know its position in the Universe, and then must be capable of communicating that position to those of interest.

      That’s the underlying principle of ADS-B, too. So far, not much has changed.

      Now, back to the ATC-vectors environment. In terminal airspace, good old manual position-reporting is insufficient to support high-density / small-separation operations. Radar provides a means of surveillance – which obviates the necessity for position reports. ADS-B is an effort to automate position-reporting, as an alternative form of surveillance (the “S” in ADS-B).

      The fundamental CONCEPTUAL difference between radar surveillance and ADS-B “surveillance” is this: Radar surveillance is independent of and non-reliant upon the performance of any and all three components of the ADS-B paradigm: the satellites; the GPS receiver/navigators; and the position-reporting transmitters.

      Thus, when a “participating” aircraft loses its ability to reliably transmit its position using ADS-B (and remember – failure of any one of the system’s three components will do the trick), the aircraft no longer is participating.

      Radar surveillance offers two rather helpful features. First, ATC still can see even non-participating aircraft, and thus know their positions. Second, presuming that communications between ATC and the aircraft still are available, ATC can convey the aircraft’s surveillance-determined position (and ground track and groundspeed) to the pilot.

      ADS-B offers none of that. It’s a “lights-out” paradigm.

      ADS-B (in) was sold to the aviator population in part based upon its ability to allow participating aircraft to “see” other aircraft, without the verbal participation of ATC. [I won’t even comment on the FAA’s decision to withhold such information from aircraft that lack ADS-B out capabilities.] Notice well that the other-aircraft’s-position information that is transmitted to ADS-B in aircraft is NET “resolved” information that is created using either or both of Radar surveillance and ADS-B out information.

      Here’s the interesting part: all of this traffic information easily can be appended to the ground-to-air half of good old Mode-S. That’s right – without requiring equipage for ADS-B, we could have a true surveillance-based system that includes traffic-reporting. And that doesn’t rely upon self-reported position of aircraft in lieu of true Radar surveillance.

      In your imaginary world of ADS-B, the Agency will maintain its entire existing Radar network in perpetuity. because implementing ADS-B without integrated support (you characterize it as “backup”) from Radar would be… moronic.

      But in the real world, the Agency has made it very clear that they intend to do away with their radar network. Oh, sure – a few radar facilities will remain open – the ones that are operated by/for the military. And that Radar information still will be made available to ATC. But its coverage will be insufficient to act as a reliable “backup” to the conceptually flawed ADS-B paradigm.

      And why do you suppose that the military insists on relying on Radar surveillance? Could it be that they can’t liv with the consequences of being unable to see “non-participating” airborne objects? Just sayin’………

      Russ, as an engineer, you always need to conduct a failure-mode analysis of everything that you design. As the recent Boeing battery debacle amply demonstrates, each such analysis needs to consider not only the likelihood that any given failure will occur, but the outcome in the event that it does occur – regardless of the likelihood of the occurrence.

      ADS-B – without perpetual Radar integration – simply does not pass muster.

      Now, please show us evidence that the FAA has pledged to maintain their existing Radar network in perpetuity. Your entire argument depends upon it.


  17. Louis
    Louis says:

    Who is this Russ MacDonald? He comments on everyone’s comment. Is he a salesman for Garmin or representative for the FAA?

    • Russ MacDonald
      Russ MacDonald says:

      I am a CFII and an Electrical Engineer who understands the ADS-B system.

      My hope is that maybe a few people will read what I have written and stop complaining about a system that I believe is very important to the progress of aviation safety in the US and the world.

  18. Louis
    Louis says:

    as long as you are not a salesman or FAA agent. i have no problems with safety and you would know that if you saw what I accessorized my 172 with since I bought 1.5 years ago. But that is me. Not everyone has that ability and I don’t believe that because I want to spend that money that the government should push others around just because they want to. I am a relatively new pilot of 300 hrs but no slouch. I score well in my written exams and my examiner has great respect for me for my level of safety and performance on my private pilot and practal tests. I am to start with my commercial as soon as I have time, but did well on my written. In addition, I am a physican and sick of the government pushing us around with all their micromanagement as you can see in my first comment. Planes flew safely before new laws. people got great healthcare before new laws. I am convinced the government is for government not the people. I plan to put in the Garmin 650 because I like the touch screen and because of this 2020 law. But not everyone can do this. after all the taxes and fees we pay them, they should not take that money just to push the little guy around. What about the little grandmom who just likes to fly her plane locally just for a weekend joyride. should she use her limited money to keep the FAA happy? i don’t think so.

  19. R. Kipling
    R. Kipling says:


    Sparks Engineer, well that explains a few things. Your advocacy is apparent, but in my opinion way over stated. Frankly, the state of GA now, and in the foreseeable future just doesn’t justify the individual cost, or the National costs for that matter.

    To know the value of everything, and the cost of nothing is a bureaucrat’s burden. A burden that is constantly borne by those who have no need, nor desire to carry it. ADS-B will become fully mandatory just so someone can justify their job.

    Flying is an outside sport/event. I’ve been flying since ’62 and I fly to live. Your way of thinking will have us sitting in the back of a drone in short order. And, I’m an ATP, CFII/M/H not a pancake flier.

    This is government tracking and control plain and simple. Tried flying into the Beltway lately? With ADS-B that ‘GA flying tax’ Obama floated will only be an electronic invoice away.

    Giving up freedom and liberty for a false sense of security is a fool’s bargain. I just got back from IND and Appr. was so quiet I had to check Comm twice.

    Your personal views aside, please justify how this whizzer really makes my flying safer, or happier? It will only do one thing, glue more eyeballs to the glass.


    • Russ MacDonald
      Russ MacDonald says:

      @Kip, Based on what you wrote, then, all you will have to add to your plane is the ADS-B Out box, which adds no more ‘glass’ in your cockpit. It will send your position, direction of flight, and speed to every cockpit that has both ADS-B In and Out capability plus the ATC ground stations. The added accuracy will allow them to space you closer to other IFR aircraft.

      • R.Kipling
        R.Kipling says:


        Thank you for your support, we generally agree. I’m going to give Russ the benefit of the doubt and say that he is just dedicated to his position. Knowledge isn’t always cognitive, and ‘needs’ are always self-motivated. My own position is that I hate seeing this country so willingly destroy liberty for parasitic profit. GA has become the Forgotten Man.

        From what I’ve read about ADS-B it relies on a ground-based interpretor that will be limited to line-of-sight – an expensive & fatal flaw right there. The only reasonable application might be high traffic areas like NYC or LAX?

        But, with expense, mechanical interference and high-security needs even that’s questionable. You just know that there is some mad-scientist, tech-no-weenie out there chomping at the bit to prove his/her skills getting even with a disapproving world.

        The FAA isn’t going to reduce sequencing in any meaningful way, especially in WX. You don’t get a pass for technology that costs 300 souls when it skips a beat. The industry is going to be facing larger aircraft and fewer flights – it’s already doing it. My oldest son is a 767 Captain, who used to have a great schedule.


        If closer sequencing is the primary benefit, you’re on one of those fool’s errands. It shouldn’t be a “wouldn’t this be nice” thing, it should be a “value vs cost vs real-world application” thing. Our country can’t afford all the bells and whistles to be thought up. Reason needs to be resurrected, now.

        I appreciate your zealot, just not your justifications. I hope that your will review your position from empirical application and come back from the dark-side, soon.


  20. Louis
    Louis says:

    Kip, I agree with you completely. Russ is either blind or just so indoctrinated that he can’t see how stupid he sounds. There once was an old seamstress who kept cutting the hem of her clients dress and still could never figure out why the dress was so short! I think Rus has painted himself in such a tight corner that it is now his pride blinding him to facts. Or maybe it is glare from the diplomas of CFII and his electrical engineering degree.

  21. Russ MacDonald
    Russ MacDonald says:

    OK, I’m done here. I never insulted anyone, and I don’t appreciate it when I am insulted. I have tried my best to explain the ADS-B system, and I’ve failed. Some people just refuse to understand, and there is nothing I can say that will change that.

  22. R.Kipling
    R.Kipling says:


    I’m sorry that you feel this way, and I can assure that I meant no harm with my comments. I’m retired military, so I tend to shoot from the hip at point-blank range. Your comments and insight are appreciated. We will all have to face this latest beast.

    I, personally have made my issues known to my congressmen and the FAA, because of things found on this board. For your contributions, I thank you.


  23. Louis
    Louis says:

    Russ, I appologize for your insulted feelings. Certainly, a man who can attain CFII and an engineering degree is not stupid, but the position you hold onto so dearly does sound that way. I also have been military and work ER both of which are also blunt environments. I also hate the people who are in love with aviation cut out of their love because of big brother. We already have enough issues without asking for bigger and bigger government that wants everyone else to pay for their ideas.

  24. Cary Alburn
    Cary Alburn says:

    Well, after watching people slice and dice one another, I’ll try to stay neutral in the ad hominem department. AOPA’s “red board” has enough of that to cover antagonism in several forums.

    I bought a Stratus II just before OSH this year, to feed weather through Foreflight Pro to my iPad Mini mounted on my yoke. Wow! Do I love that! Even with the delays inherent in the system, that’s so much better than what I’ve had for the previous 40 years of my “flying career”.

    I also get to see a lot of airliner traffic that I didn’t know was there, because they have ADS-B out. So far, I haven’t noticed any lower flying traffic, because few of us low to mid-level fliers have “out”.

    I upgraded my 50 year old airplane’s panel 1 1/2 years ago to include a 430W, so my cost to go “out” won’t be as bad as if I hadn’t already done that. I will likely equip the ol’ bird with “out” before the deadline–don’t want to get caught like so many did when the 406 deadline loomed for international travelers, and the manufacturers couldn’t keep up with demand.

    I understand the objection to the intrusion of the feds into our flying lives. You “youngsters” wouldn’t know what it was like to fly back when we could go into any airport in the country with no more than a 10 channel navcom. But then they said we needed 90 channels, and then a transponder, and then 360 channels, and then 720 channels–the price of progress is probably as obvious in aviation as in many pursuits.

    On the other hand, 40 odd years ago, we had X-ray equipment, but we didn’t have today’s lasers, CScans, MRIs, IMRTs and deVincies and all sorts of other fancy (read: expensive) equipment in the medical field, and those of us in my field were still using typewriters and carbon paper in lieu of the as yet unreliable word processing machines, compared to our computers and laser printers and ultra fast copiers of today.

    So progress costs money, and there’s just no way around that. My only regret is that I can’t possibly live long enough to see all of us have a whiz-bang car in our driveway that we can just toss some garbage into its Little Giant atomic power plant to feed the flux capacitor, so that we can levitate, retract the gear, and flit here and there without roads, without Victor airways, without GPSs, a la Back to the Future–but at least I won’t have to pay for it. :)


  25. Art Friedman
    Art Friedman says:

    Interesting to revisit this six years later with the deadline less than five months away.

    I suspect the same claims and arguments against were heard back when comm radios, transponders, and Mode C were required. There was just no internet for us to bluster via.

    Though new equipment like the uAvionix Skybeacon and Tailbeacon have provided cheaper pathways to adoption, for the most part, costs have gone up, especially as the deadline approaches. Lots of owners procrastinated and now avionics shops are running 12 hours a day (with corresponding overtime) to meet demand. So the assertion that it would get cheaper as the deadline approached as not panned out. Maybe AFTER the deadline — but way after, My avionics shop says it has ADS-B Out installs booked for months into 2020. When the demand dries up, there are no backlogs, and ADS-Out equipment is being to gather on shelves, that’s when I’ll look for discounts. I just didn’t want to face the limitations that waiting would bring.

    The off-again, on-again rebate was weird development and probably pushed a few people to get ‘er done, but was mostly just a blip. The big attraction was always there: non-subscription weather and traffic displays in the cockpit if you added ADS-B In. Both have been boons for me, perhaps saving me from collisions a couple of times in those years, and made me glad that I did it as soon as it was available. I’m sure my installation costs were cheaper then than now, though the choice of equipment is much broader now.

    One more thing, the statement in the very first post that the FAA “won’t even approve an obvious no-brainer like driver licenses in lieu of medical, for private pilots” is incorrect. That decision was made by Congress. I hear (but have nothing solid to prove it) that the FAA would have preferred the driver license route because it would have reduced its workload with pretty similar results. Congress wasn’t having it.

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