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MIT Survey Finds Pilots Like ADS-B Info

November 5, 2014 - A survey conducted by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) found that those who are using information sent up on the ADS-B “in” channel believe the traffic and weather information is useful as a safety aid and for in-flight planning. A total of 1,407 GA pilots responded to the survey conducted earlier this year by MIT’s International Center for Air Transportation.

The survey found that 56 percent of the respondents had used the traffic and weather services of ADS-B “in.” But only 28 percent had installed systems; the rest used a portable ADS-B “in” receiver. Pilots reported that the traffic advisories available on ADS-B were the most helpful information provided, and some even reported the traffic alerts had aided in avoiding a collision. But without an approved ADS-B “out” system installed in the airplane the traffic advisories are inconsistent and incomplete, and that was an issue.

Sixty percent of pilots flying with an installed ADS-B “out” system reported being “extremely” or “very” satisfied with the traffic advisories received on the “in” channel. Those pilots flying without the installed ADS-B “out” and using only a portable “in” receiver weren’t as happy with the traffic advisories with only 26 percent being satisfied.

Since the system was designed to function with participating airplanes having both ADS-B “out” and “in,” it’s not surprising there were gaps in traffic tracking coverage for those who flew with only a portable “in” receiver.

The survey found that about half of the pilots who have not yet flown with an ADS-B “in” receiver plan to do so in the future. However, 27 percent of respondents said they have a traffic advisory system (TAS) installed that already does a good job of alerting them to conflicts. Of course many pilots also have subscription-based satellite weather available in the cockpit.

There is no requirement to install ADS-B “in,” only the “out” system which broadcast aircraft position, altitude, velocity, and other data. Any airplane that now flies where a Mode C transponder is required will need to have an installed and FAA approved ADS-B “out” system by the end of 2019 to continue to fly in that same airspace.

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