As published in Business Air Magazine.
Pick up about any aviation magazine and you can read an article similar to this one. The upcoming equipment mandates are coming and you need to be prepared.
Yet, when talking to many of the major shops that do this work, they tell us they think the industry is well behind in scheduling and installing this equipment. The FAA has stated there will not be an extension past January 1, 2020 for ADS-B. Simply put, if your plane does not have it, you are not flying. The last statistic I saw was an estimate that 40% of the fleet does not have ADS-B. An estimate by one major MRO is that at current capacity, there will be a shortage of over 3,000 aircraft not making the date.
Shop space is filling up rapidly with those who are planning ahead. Even if you might not own the plane in 2020, the next owner is not going to buy your plane if they cannot get the equipment installed and be able to fly. They will just move on to someone else’s plane.
Installing the mandated equipment is an investment, and one that for at least the next few years, will allow you to get almost all, if not all, of the cost of install. There are not too many equipment upgrades with that kind of return.
You need to be prepared for sticker shock. Many of the applications are bundled in with other upgrades. Since ADS-B needs a WAAS capable GPS, the most common marriage is providing you with WAAS/LPV approaches. So when you hear that an upgrade on a large cabin plane for ADS-B might be around $85K, make sure to read the fine print, it could be assuming GPS capable WAAS receivers. In addition, sometimes the flight management systems need upgraded to work with the new installed items. This is specifically true in modern integrated cockpits.
There are a few optional upgrades that are more stand alone depending on how sophisticated your avionics package is. These are worth exploring as they will meet the requirements. However, what we don’t know is how their values will be viewed against the fully integrated systems. From a residual value point of view, it might make sense to pay a little more upfront.
As to WAAS/LPV, the world is changing and these types of approaches that offer the same vertical guidance as the traditional ILS are becoming more prevalent all around the world. I have been told that there will not be any new ILS approaches as the WAAS/LPV approach is less expensive to install and maintain. In addition, there are more STARS and SIDS that have WAAS requirements that will allow you to fly better and more efficient routes to and from airports.
The bottom line is do not delay. Even if you do not want to put the aircraft down now for these upgrades, get your slot reserved. If you sell the aircraft, the slot reservation can go as part of the deal, giving you an edge over the plane that isn’t done, and does not have a reservation.