With the 2020 mandate for ADS-B Out equipment for aircraft flying in controlled airspace rapidly approaching — and the FAA offering a $500 equipment rebate to the first 20,000 aircraft owners to get in line — now is a great time to commit to a unit to avoid the mad rush before the compliance deadline. But there is a long list of offerings on the market, and choosing one product over another can be difficult.
If you know that you won’t ever fly in Class A airspace (FL 180 and above) or internationally, you can stick with a simpler universal access transceiver (UAT). If you don’t have a WAAS GPS system to provide position information, the unit will have to include it, which most systems sold today do. There is a long list of ADS-B systems on the market, ranging in price from around $2,000 to $6,000. For Class A and international flights, you will need a Mode C transponder with extended squitter (ES) capability.
Most of the more affordable systems also include ADS-B In capabilities, allowing you to display traffic and weather on a variety of panel-mount and portable displays.
If you’re looking for a full ADS-B solution with a dedicated display, you can have that too. The cost will be higher, but considering how often you’ll be referencing ADS-B-supplied data, it’s a sound investment.
When trying to decide which system fits best into your budget, you should also consider the additional cost of antennas and installation. You may want to schedule time to discuss your options with an installation shop to make sure that you’re not in for any nasty surprises when you get the final bill.
Here’s a look at some of the more popular ADS-B equipment options: