Final ADS-B mandate takes effect

An ADS-B ground station in Broome. (Airservices)
An ADS-B ground station in Broome. (Airservices)

Aircraft operating under instrument flight rules (IFR) in Australia must now be fitted with ADS-B (Automatic Dependent Surveillance Broadcast) technology following the passing of the final fitment mandate on Thursday.

The mandate required all flights operating under IFR to have ADS-B, which is a satellite-based technology enabling aircraft to be accurately tracked by air traffic controllers and other pilots without the need for conventional radar, by February 2.

Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA) acting director of aviation safety Shane Carmody said the implementation of ADS-B has improved the surveillance coverage in Australia.

“Before ADS-B, Australia’s electronic airspace surveillance coverage was patchy by international standards, with only around 18 per cent of the continent covered by radar,” Carmody said in a statement on Thursday.

“In Australia, we have been progressively introducing the technology since 2004 as we had an immediate need for air traffic surveillance that could not be easily achieved with traditional radars.

“Today marks an important and historic day in aviation safety and heralds a new era in technology.”

CASA said its latest figures showed 93 per cent of all flights in Australian airspace flying under IFR were conducted in aircraft fitted with ADS-B technology.

In November, CASA issued exemptions for some private aircraft to be fitted with the technology.

The regulator extended the deadline for private aircraft registered before February 6 2014 flying under IFR to be fitted with ADS-B transponders by almost three years to January 1 2020.

However, aircraft conducting private operations under IFR without ADS-B would be subject to a number of conditions.

Non ADS-B IFR flights would be required to operate below 10,000ft in uncontrolled class G airspace, while they would be subject to air traffic control clearance in class D airspace.

Further, they would only be operate in class C and E airspace “to facilitate arrival or departure from a class D aerodrome, with prior clearance from air traffic control and only if fitted with a secondary surveillance radar transponder”.

There were also CASA provisions for a “very small number” of foreign-registered aircraft to continue operating without ADS-B until the European deadline of June 6 2020, subject to air traffic control clearances and flying under 29,000 feet in continental airspace.

Airservices cited the Aircraft Electronics Association as saying the cost of a “simple” ADS-B installation “can be as low as AUD$6,500”.