MROs Eye Further ADS-B Modifications Work.jpg Garmin

MROs Eye Further ADS-B Modifications Work

In 2010, the FAA set a Jan. 1, 2020 deadline for U.S. operators to become ADS-B Out compliant. Over the next 19 months, MRO providers see opportunities in helping non-compliant carriers over the line.

As U.S. carriers look to meet the FAA’s fast-approaching Jan. 1, 2020 deadline to become equipped with automatic dependent surveillance-broadcast (ADS-B), MROs are exploring ways to capture some of the installation work.

Given the likelihood of a rigid equipage deadline a surge in installations for ADS-B Out is expected. 

Aircraft equipped with ADS-B Out will reap many benefits, including enabling the pilot to see surrounding aircraft and hazardous weather and terrain, which should result in safer and more efficient operations. ADS-B uses satellite signals instead of ground radar so aircraft will be able to fly more directly, as well.

Avocet MRO Services, the Orlando-based company specializing in airframe maintenance along with teardowns and passenger-to-freighter modifications, is one provider looking to capitalize on this emerging opportunity.

Offering the ADS-B capability is dependent on building the necessary supplemental type certificate (STC) Avocet needs before installing equipment on the aircraft, says Edward Gray, the company’s general manager and chief of operations.

Avocet is seeing a greater urgency from operators yet to become compliant, he says.

“2020 is approaching fast and next year will be very crowded with operators getting their ADS-B requirements done,” he says. “The FAA has already mandated a timeframe and is very unlikely to change this”

The family-owned business, which recently added a second facility in the sunshine state in Lakeland in addition to its headquarters at Orlando Sanford International Airport, is well placed to offer ADS-B services off the back of its existing capabilities, which include end-of-life aircraft services. “We end up with a lot of airframes that we are able to modify, test on the ground, carry out the modifications and then certify the aircraft before moving on,” he says.

Another U.S. company looking at the ADS-B landscape is Airborne Maintenance & Engineering Services (AMES), the Wilmington, Ohio-based subsidiary of Air Transport Services Group.

Todd France, vice president business development at AMES, says the company is presently conducting ADS-B modifications on nearly every aircraft under its service at its facilities in Tampa, Florida and Wilmington, Ohio. France expects this workflow to continue up to the 2020 deadline, while seeing further opportunities in ADS-B-related work for which it holds full installation and testing capabilities.  

“Outside our current customer base we see opportunity at our Tampa and Wilmington facilities to be able to serve new customers trying to meet the FAA deadline with our STC for Boeing 767-200, -300, and 757 that is set to be approved in the second quarter of this year,” he says.

With just 19 months until the deadline, which France believes some carriers had expected to be extended, he foresees a busy second half of 2018 going through to the whole of next year.

“Airlines are in a crunch time to get their aircraft modified within scheduled maintenance visits and avoid having to special schedule aircraft for ADS-B modification,” he says.

This approach could leave to potential issues related to supply, France feels. “Those who gambled, expecting an extension will be challenged to get their aircraft modified prior to the deadline. These late adopters will be challenged with availability of equipment to purchase due to high demand as we approach the deadline.”

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