Turn on that ADS-B out transponder and turn on the FAA on your shoulder—always and forever!

There is no free lunch with the FAA and ADS-B is a case in point.  ADS-B out is the ultimate in big brother (aside from your cell phone).

Yes, with the new transponders, if you have both out and in, you will be able to see traffic.  With just out, you can see traffic on your IPad with ForeFlight and other setups.  The carrot the FAA has put out there is free weather—good but not near as good as subscription XM.

The catch is that you are tracked by N number anytime you have your ADS-B turned on regardless of whether you are IFR, VFR (on a flight plan or not), and any other flight you might perform. 

Is this a problem?  Look at it this way—you are flying on a crystal clear day and you clip the corner of a restricted area with your ADS-B turned on.  Busted!  Currently, there is no protection against the FAA coming against anyone who has their ADS-B turned on and clips any airspace.  Look out GA pilots.

There is an office in Atlanta which stores data on every ADS-B equipped aircraft for every flight, every day, and forever. 

I may have to buy an ADS-B out transponder but that does not mean I have to turn it on.  I have flown over 30 years without in cockpit traffic avoidance except my eyes and I plan to keep it that way.  Besides, drones will probably not be required to have ADS-B and there have already been mid-airs (government denial or not).

General aviation flight, the last area of true unsupervised freedom, is about to lose that freedom.

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Comment by Michael Klein on September 10, 2014 at 1:50pm

Michael Friedman: You have affirmed that famous comment made long ago by someone whose answer to the question, "WHAT MAKES AN AIRPLANE FLY????' - answer - MONEY, LOTS OF MONEY.

Comment by Michael Friedman on September 10, 2014 at 12:32pm

MIchael Klein: Don't fret - If I do sell my Tomahawk it will only be to replace it with something different but just as much fun.  I just rebuilt the engine this year, but that should be paid off by 2020 just in time to spend more for the ADS-B stuff.  I don't argue the usefulness of it, I only wonder if we've hit the point where we're spending 95% of the money on the last 5% of utility.  Still, as long as I have a few extra dollars to rub together I'll be flying!  (I suspect most people who read this web site feel roughly the same.)

Comment by Michael Klein on September 10, 2014 at 12:12pm

Dear Michael Friedman:Please do not sell your Tomahawk. My airplane is a 1967 182K model, 12 years older than your Tomahawk. I appreciate and enjoy your comments regarding ADS-B. Think back forty years when GA pilots were told the A-N courses were being phased out and they had to learn about VORs. That caused the same anguish currently being voiced by you and Dr.Blue. Focus on that which you have control over, specifically enjoying flying your Tomahawk. Assuming you continue to fly for the next 10 years and the cost of installing ADS-B in and out costs you $10,000, that computes to $1000 per year or $83 per month. In my opinion the additional saftety features afforded by ADS-B, including the value of your life, far exceeds $83 per month. I had a Garmin 430 and was able to find a used Garmin 530 which has additional features not available on the no longer manufactured, but still Garmin supported, 430. Have a talk with your avionics shop and see what is available. Simply for the psychological enjoyment and relaxation we all get from flying, don't sell your Tomahawk. Instead update your avionics and enjoy that wonderful feeling when you lift off or make that perfect landing.

Comment by Michael Friedman on September 10, 2014 at 10:08am

Just a note for Michael Klein: ADS-B and the traditional Mode A/C/S transponders operate on basically the same frequency, about 1ghz, and suffer the exact same attenuation (signal loss) due to weather.  The old transponders have also been "solid state" for quite some time, and that has no bearing at all on their effectiveness in bad weather.  What does help is that the newer Mode S and ES use more robust digital protocols and so allow accurate data reception with less signal strength.  Also, primary radar relies on hearing a very (very) weak reflected signal which severely limits its range.  With ADS-B, each aircraft is a signal source available directly to both other aircraft and ground stations, so the probability of getting good reception is improved.

What I have to wonder is, if they turn off the ground radar systems, how will they track non-conforming aircraft? Anyone who simply switches off their ADS-B transmitter would become invisible to the system.  Today, if you have a bad transponder or have switched it off, they can still do limited tracking using primary radar.  I would think that turning off ground based radar would be a serious problem for the ATC system in this scenario.

Comment by Michael Klein on September 9, 2014 at 4:54pm

In my opinion you are overlooking the additional safety features afforded by ADS-B In & Out. In conjunction with my Stratus unit and Foreflight, as well as ATC, all approaching, climbing and descending aircraft along my route of flight and the congested airspace at both towered and non-towered airports afford me valuable real-time data. I compare this data to that depicted on my Garmin 530 and frequently am able to see other aircraft before alerted by ATC. I am uniformed regarding the type of flying you have been performing for the past 30 years, however, your comments suggest you spend a minimal amount of time in Class B and Class C airspace. Regarding your concern about the FAA looking over your shoulder, why would you reject any device that focuses on improving safety. Rod Machado has written extensively about the having the "additional eyes and ears of ATC" as an important safety feature. Furthermore, FARs 91.103 and 91.167 clearly state that as part of pre-flight planning you must know about NOTAMS along your route of flight and at your destination airport. There is no reason for you to "clip any airspace" if you have completed a thorough pre-flight plan. You may wish to consider limiting your flying to Class G airspace and minimize the need for ADS-B.

Michael Friedman's comment regarding "the old radar system" is one of the primary reasons ADS-B was designed and activated. Radar is an expensive and high maintenance system which is less reliable in bad weather. ADS-B utilizes state of the art ground reporting stations and solid state electronics which are independent of the weather. For the instrument and non-instrument rated pilots based at towered  airports, the ground radar is frequently "out-of service."  This is when ADS-B both in and out is a valuable adjunct when entering the airport environment, as well as performing an instrument approach. All the aircraft in the vicinity of the airport are identified by the tower and by the pilot making the approach. Take the opportunity to educate yourself at the excellent seminars offered at Oskosh or the AOPA fly-ins around the country before abasing a well thought out concept. I share Michael Friedman's concern about the cost of installation and this may force those pilots who wish to continue to fly for the "$100 hamburger" to upgrade their panel or purchase another aircraft. I had significant trepidation about ADS-B when first announced,however I am very pleased with its ease of use and the additional comfort I feel when flying "even safer."

Michael Klein,MD,FACS

Comment by Michael Friedman on August 28, 2014 at 7:52am

Sadly, the regulations, 91.227(f), requires "Each person operating an aircraft equipped with ADS–B Out must operate this equipment in the transmit mode at all times.", so your plan to keep it turned off will only lead to more grief for you.  Of course, the FAA goes on and on in the regulation about how they don't want to run the old radar system in parallel with the ADS-B system, so once they've turned off the radar your plane with ADS-B turned off would be invisible anyway ;-)

It's interesting that the same document which rejects alternative plans to run the old radar system in parallel with ADS-B, also requires that you keep your old Mode-C/S transponder if you want to fly in Class-B airspace.  I'm not sure what that's all about, but I'm just a pilot who got crazy and actually read the ruling - and now I have a headache!  I have to say that I'm not looking forward to putting this equipment in my 35 year old Tomahawk, which has a resale value of not much more than that to begin with.  I doubt the market value of the plane will increase by the amount of expenditure, so like always I'll have to either take the bloody nose or give up on airplane ownership.


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