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On Aug. 2, Nav Canada – Canada’s not-for-profit air navigation service provider – said that due to current supply chain issues, the previously announced implementation dates for the Automatic Dependent Surveillance – Broadcast (ADS-B) Out performance mandate have been adjusted for Class A and B airspace.
The mandate was first announced in February 2021, with the intention to enhance the safety and efficiency of aircraft operations. Essentially, ADS-B calculates aircraft location, speed, and direction from the Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS) and pumps the data 120 times a minute to air navigation services like Nav Canada.
Initially, the mandate was to come into effect in Class A and B Canadian airspace (above 12,500 feet) on Feb. 23, 2023. Now, Nav Canada said new dates have been determined in coordination with Transport Canada, which take into account customer feedback “regarding supply chain limitations and backlogs to acquire and install the appropriate transponder.”
The mandate will come into effect in Class A Canadian airspace on Aug. 10, 2023; in Class B Canadian airspace on May 16, 2024; and Class C, D, and E no sooner than 2026 — essentially affecting private owners and operators at all flight levels. Nav Canada said it will confirm the timeline for Class C, D, and E “pending further assessment.”
To meet the ADS-B Out performance mandate, aircraft must be equipped with an appropriate transponder with ADS-B Out capabilities and performance, with the applicable standard of Radio Technical Commission for Aeronautics (RTCA) DO-260B, “Minimum Operational Performance Standards,” or newer.
As well, aircraft must have antenna capability for broadcast toward space-based ADS-B receivers emitting 1090 MHz extended squitter. “This requirement can be met either through antenna diversity (the use of a top and bottom antenna) or with a single antenna that is capable of transmitting both towards the ground and up towards satellites,” Nav Canada said in a press release.
ADS-B surveillance technology is increasingly being adopted by other countries around the world. In Canada, it is already used over Hudson Bay, the very busy North Atlantic, and in domestic airspace above 29,000 ft.
However, in early 2022, the Canadian Owners and Pilots Association (COPA) and the Canadian Business Aviation Association (CBAA) voiced serious concerns about the mandate in a letter to Transport Minister Omar Alghabra and Nav Canada.
Among the concerns was the costs associated with the equipage mandate, “with most aircraft requiring, at minimum, another antenna (for which there is no standard),” the letter reads. “This involves wiring, interior work, and, in some cases, penetration of the pressure vessel. For Canadian and U.S. operators, who have already equipped with bottom-mount antenna installations to meet U.S. ADS-B requirements from 2020, many will have to completely re-do their installations to meet the requirement of the Canadian mandate.”
Moreover, the associations note that it is not clear whether Nav Canada or Transport Canada is in charge of the mandate, or whether Transport Canada is just supporting Nav Canada. If the latter, the letter states that having a private company with no regulatory authority set standards would be “a dangerous precedent” in the regulatory environment.