My ADS-B Demo Flight

Aug. 10, 2017
With the upcoming ADS-B Out mandate about 28 months away there was a lot of ADS-B buzz during EAA AirVenture 2017.

During last month’s EAA AirVenture in Oshkosh, WI, the exhibit buildings all contained companies displaying new ADS-B solutions for general aviation aircraft.  With the upcoming ADS-B Out mandate about 28 months away – well let’s just say there was lots of ADS-B buzz around.

Over the years I’ve probably read many of the same news, articles, product announcements, and commentary on the topic of ADS-B that you have, and I've gained a very basic understanding of ADS-B. AMT regularly receives news and product announcements and we post many on our website Earlier this year Ric Peri, Vice President of Government & Industry Affairs with the Aircraft Electronics Association (AEA) wrote an article in AMT Magazine on some of the regulatory considerations on an ADS-B equipment installation.

As a pilot myself I primarily fly small recreational and older classic airplanes most of which have minimal avionics or even no electrical system. I hadn’t ever flown in a general aviation airplane with an ADS-B system to see how it operates. That was until last month during EAA AirVenture when I was invited on a demo flight by L3 Aviation Products in their Beechcraft Baron with a panel-mounted L3 Lynx NGT-9000 series transponder and display system. 

With L3 Chief Pilot Todd Scholten at the controls of the Baron, we departed Appleton, WI, (ATW is not far north of Wittman Field in OSH) on a westerly heading.  It was a beautiful clear day and it wasn’t long and the first ADS-B Traffic Advisory System (ATAS) alert was presented; an aircraft off to our right 1,200 feet below and descending. ATAS provides traffic alerts using ADS-B In (ADS-B, ADS-R, and TIS-B) traffic information. We spotted the airplane as it flew well below us. Once level at 4,500 feet Todd began to demonstrate the Lynx features – actually so many features I had a difficult time keeping up.  

The second target presented itself similar to the first but a different heading, speed and altitude, and the system also pointed out to us the aircraft’s N-number. The third alerts came through as we turned back toward the airport.

Todd then extended the range of the Lynx to include OSH, the busiest airport in the world for that week. Needless to say the screen immediately filled with targets and it became clear to me the benefits of these systems when flying in high-traffic areas.

I can’t recall the number of different types of ADS-B systems and different price points I saw while cruising through the AirVenture exhibit buildings. There were many.

I was told by people closer to this subject than I that there are procrastinators who are waiting for a lower price, a better deal, or the latest features before purchasing and installing a system in their aircraft. It was also mentioned there are avionics installation shops that are near or at full capacity for ADS-B installations. One of those procrastinators is a friend who just last weekend told me he plans to wait as long as he can before having an ADS-B Out system installed in his small general aviation airplane. Good luck.

As an incentive to get owners to act now, the Federal Aviation Administration announced last September its ADS-B rebate program which will allow many general aviation aircraft owners the opportunity to apply for a $500 rebate to help offset the cost. The Aircraft Electronics Association randomly awarded five aircraft owners with $1,000 toward an ADS-B compliant upgrade during the 2017 EAA AirVenture Oshkosh.

January 1, 2020 is not that far away.