Although he has no definite numbers, Erik Lous, GKN Fokker Services product manager for ADS-B-Out, thinks that most widebody aircraft have received or are in the final stages of obtaining the required ADS-B Out modification. “These aircraft fly all over the world,” Lous notes. That means the U.S. deadline for equipage in January 2020 is coming soon.
Lous thinks the narrowbodies that fly within regions are probably less far along the way to 100% equipage. He notes that EASA found less than 20% were equipped last year. “There is still a lot of work to do, but it is picking up enormously.”
The EASA mandate for ADS-B comes six months after FAA’s deadline, and China’s goes into effect in 2022, leaving some more time for the modification.
GKN generally gets and EASA STC for the upgrade first, then goes for an FAA STC. About a year ago, an agreement between FAA and EASA enabled a much quicker transition from one STC to another. This can now be accomplished in just a few weeks. Lous expects his latest STCs on 747s and 757s will soon translate into FAA STCs. Having both is important to lessors who want their aircraft welcome across the seas.
China, on the other hand is “difficult,” the GKN manager says. FAA and the CAAC have an agreement to extend STCs quickly but so far EASA does not have such an agreement with China.
GKN has designed its ADS-B Out modification to be quick and easy. Actual time required depends on aircraft configuration. For a new jet, it may simply require swapping out the transponder and can be done in one or two shifts. For older aircraft without compliant GPS, the mod takes longer but can be done in several overnights or one or two checks.
Generally, GKN Fokker Services sends its ADS-B kit and instructions to the operator, which installs the equipment. But the company also has facilities in Singapore and southern Netherlands where it can do the installation.