General Aviation & ADS-B
ADS-B (Automatic Dependent Surveillance Broadcast) is the new system for locating aircraft in the sky. Dubbed, “NextGen” by the FAA, this system is being deployed worldwide on the traditional transponder frequency, 1090 MHz. ADS-B is simple. Rather than using complicated RADAR systems to locate aircraft, they simply transmit their GPS locations. This is known as “ADS-B Out”.
NextGen Demonstration Video: Sagetech, Arcturus Demonstrate Joint Manned, Unmanned Aircraft Operations using COTS NextGen ADS-B Tracking
In the United States, the FAA did us one better by creating a new channel for ADS-B use called “UAT” or 978 MHz. The FAA broadcasts weather and notams on 978MHz for all to receive absolutely free. This is the source of all the excitement surrounding ADS-B. All you need to take advantage of free in-flight weather is a portable ADS-B receiver (like Clarity), and an iPad running compatible app software (Electronic Flight Bag). Since Clarity supports any app provider, the choices are numerous.
One benefit of ADS-B is the ability to receive traffic information and this is a source of significant confusion among pilots being introduced to ADS-B. Traffic information is received either directly from other aircraft as they broadcast their ADS-B Out messages (Air-to-Air), or from ground stations. Since aircraft may broadcast on either 1090 or 978, we suggest using a dual channel receiver to reliably receive messages from any ADS-B Out aircraft. It is true that traffic is also broadcast by ground stations, but targets are only transmitted around ADS-B Out aircraft. So if your aircraft doesn’t have ADS-B Out, the targets near you are not broadcast.
So when you think traffic, think Air-to-Air. And manage your expectations because as an emerging system, few aircraft have ADS-B Out, which means you won’t see very many targets out there.
The air carriers seem to be the first to equip, especially aircraft on international routes to country already requiring ADS-B Out. So if you fly in a busy terminal area you’ll see more ADS-B out targets, including those broadcast by ground stations around ADS-B Out aircraft. But if you fly in an area that’s not very busy, you’re less likely to see very many targets. Since Clarity Dual receivers receive all ADS-B Out traffic as well as all ground station traffic messages, they are an excellent choice. Just keep those expectations in check.
Electronic Flight Bag App for your iPad or tablet