Plane & Pilot
Tuesday, May 22, 2012

ADS-B Weather In The Cockpit

Sporty’s Stratus with ForeFlight 4.5 for iPad

For More Information

Appareo (Stratus Manufacturer)

FAA ADS-B Coverage Map:

ADS-B Coverage
In 2010, the FAA mandated that as of January 1, 2020, any aircraft operating in U.S. class A, B or C airspace and in class E airspace above 10,000 MSL (and above 2,500 AGL) will require both a Mode-C transponder and one of the two ADS-B-out data links—either an enhanced form of the two-way Mode-S transponder data link already used by most airliners, especially on international flights, or an alternative technology called Universal Asynchronous Transceiver (UAT) that was developed for the FAA's Capstone program. While both data links support GPS-based position reporting, the newer UAT technology offers additional bandwidth for what the FAA calls Flight Information Services—Broadcast (FIS-B) data.

Stratus (and other devices) are one-way UAT devices that receive FIS-B signals and make them available to an iPad or other display device.

As of this writing, according to the FAA's Next Generation Technologies interactive map, En-route advisory services, including FIS-B, are available in over half of the continental United States, the Gulf of Mexico and parts of Alaska.

In the continental U.S., pilots should find good ADS-B coverage today along both the Atlantic and Pacific coasts, throughout the South and in the Great Lakes region. Coverage is much more limited in the Central and Mountain regions—Wyoming, Colorado and Arkansas have little or no coverage, because ADS-B ground stations have not yet been activated in those states. The same is true for the Hawaiian Islands and Puerto Rico.

This situation should improve dramatically over the next year and a half, as ITT (the FAA's contractor for ADS-B) builds from today's total of 385 operational ground stations to a planned total of almost 800. The FAA expects that this will expand to cover the U.S. national airspace by the end of 2013. In the meantime, we recommend that pilots check the FAA coverage map before purchasing any device that receives FIS-B or other ADS-B signals.

One more point bears mentioning: Stratus and other one-way (receive-only) devices don't fulfill the FAA mandate for ADS-B out (transmitter) equipage by January 1, 2020. A Mode-S(ES) transponder or UAT transmitter will be a requirement.


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