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ADS-B In-Cockpit Weather for Canadian General Aviation Aircraft
By Patrick Gilligan, EAA 1164458
July 2021 – I was recently made aware of the Canadian In-Flight Information Broadcasting Association (CIFIB). It is a not-for-profit association working at establishing in-cockpit weather across Canada for general aviation aircraft.
IMPORTANT: Today, pilots can only get in-cockpit weather over ADS-B In on the 978 MHz UAT frequency from U.S. ground stations (or using cellphone on iPad technology, if within range). If you are flying along the southern parts of Canada, then you can receive weather. If you are out of range of the U.S. ground-based towers you are out of luck.
When the U.S. began planning this ADS-B technology that will save millions of dollars annually by reducing radar stations, they realized aircraft owners would be paying to upgrade, so to sweeten the deal, they opted for UAT 978 and 1090 ground-based.
Nav Canada’s proposed system is a business decision that will save and make millions of dollars using 1090 satellites, but this frequency does not have the required bandwidth for weather. Canadian aircraft owners will have to pay to equip when and where required without the same benefits as U.S. aircraft owners.
CIFIB transmitter at Burlington Air Park (CZBA).
With weather being the number one cause of aircraft accidents, uploading the most current weather en route and for arrivals permits the pilot to assess and take appropriate actions to avoid becoming a Transportation Safety Board statistic. In-cockpit weather across Canada will save lives!
I urge Transport Canada, NavCanada, aviation associations and suppliers, and also Canadian pilots to financially support the CIFIB initiative.
CIFIB's first three installations (Stratford, Burlington, and Oshawa) are being set up with flight schools and a fourth is being set up with a municipal airport (Parry Sound). CIFIB would be happy to work with other groups such as COPA Flights and EAA chapters, and some of CIFIB’s future installations do expect to have these groups as at least co-partners.
“CIFIB brings free in-cockpit weather and traffic services to pilots operating in Canadian airspace by deploying UAT 978 MHz compatible ground stations at locations throughout Canada.”
Showing weather from the CIFIB network (image from Foreflight)
CIFIB states that it “plans to deploy about 100 sites across Canada. The network won’t cover every part of Canada, but we will install ground stations and grow the network based on demand and support from local groups, bringing these safety-enhancing services to popular GA airports and routes.”