[Avionics Today February 4, 2014] Avionics that enable pilots to receive real-time information about their position and the airborne location of other aircraft, or Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast In, will "not likely be ready" for mandate by 2020 under the FAA's NextGen program, according to a new audit monitoring the program's progress issued by the Department of Transportation's Office of the Inspector General (OIG).
Garmin's GDL 90 with ADS-B In and Out was the first ADS-B receiver certified for General Aviation aircraft. Photo, courtesy of Garmin.
The FAA is mandating that all aircraft flying within the National Airspace System (NAS) are equipped with avionics that outwardly report the real-time position for tracking by air traffic controllers, or ADS-B Out. However, the agency is behind schedule on initiating rulemaking activities requiring the use of ADS-B In, which the OIG claims is a key provision "intended to accelerate NextGen technologies."
Within the latest report, the auditors also note that the FAA missed a February 2013 deadline required by the FAA's 2012 Reauthorization Act to establish rulemaking for issuing ADS-B In guidelines and regulations. OIG also believes it is uncertain when these provisions can be implemented and what the cost will be.
"As a result, FAA will not likely be ready to mandate the use of the technology by 2020, as required by the act," OIG says.
Delays in issuing ADS-B In guidelines and regulations are due in part to the agency's need to finalize requirements for displaying traffic information in aircraft cockpits. Also contributing to the delay is the need for the FAA to modify the systems that controllers rely on to manage traffic, develop and deploy new procedures for separating aircraft using satellite-based technology and assess potential system security vulnerabilities, the report states.
"Moreover, as we reported last year, users are concerned about investing in aircraft avionics for ADS-B and other NextGen initiatives because [the] FAA has not clearly defined what benefits will be achieved and when," OIG says.
FAA officials told the auditors that budgetary issues have had a significant impact on its modernization efforts with NextGen, and that they're still reeling from some of the provisions of the Budget Control Act of 2011. Further complicating that was the sequester and 2013 government shutdown, which caused the FAA to further fall behind schedule on several of its modernization efforts.
Despite criticism of the agency's progress with ADS-B In, the FAA is expected to complete the ground infrastructure required to facilitate the use of ADS-B Out this year. Since there is still no mandate requiring ADS-B In, airlines and operators will continue to focus on the 2020 mandate for ADS-B Out.