What is ADS-B in Aviation?

what is ads-b in aviation

Due to the recent popularity of the ADS-B receiver, many student pilots are talking about getting a portable ADS-B device.

However, I am specific that many student pilots, even private pilots, are unaware of the definite use of portable ADS-B devices. Indeed a portable ADS-B receiver will make iPad flying more fun.

This post will explain what a portable ADS-B does and why ADS-B out has become a requirement in recent years.

ADS-B receiver and ADS-B in and out may sound confusing to many.

Pilots from the USA might be familiar with these terms now.

But how about the student pilots from other continents?

Most student pilots have yet to learn much about this topic—especially where this next-generation air traffic management technology is unavailable.

What is ADS-B in aviation?

ADS-B means Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast. It is a new generation of technology to replace radars shortly.

Radar is an aid for Air Traffic Controllers to see the aircraft’s location and identification.

That’s how air traffic controllers provide pilots guidance:

  • For maintaining a specific altitude;
  • And a course to avoid collision with other aircraft.

Nevertheless, several devastating air crashes have occurred due to air traffic collisions. Crashing with another aircraft on the surface is not as devastating but can become costly for the aircraft operator.

Thus ADS-B can play a better role in preventing accidents in congested airspace.

Hence, ADS-B may replace the radar detection system entirely in the future. There is no flaw in the radar detection system. This system has been in use for decades.

However, ADS-B can provide information much more accurately than radar.

Flying in radar-based airspace, the pilot must rely on the air traffic controllers and communicate continuously to avoid collisions.

So how is ADS-B any different from the radar-based system?

Today, a pilot has to depend entirely on what the air traffic controller sees in their radar detection system to avoid a collision.

But using:

  • ADS-B compliant avionics;
  • A display onboard the aircraft, such as a tablet;
  • A portable ADS-B receiver,

A pilot will see what an air traffic controller is seeing. Knowing ahead of the airplane route, pilots can better decide on IFR or MVFR flying conditions.

Therefore a pilot flying an airplane equipped with ADS-B equipment can deviate long before going to a collision course.

ADS-B uses satellites to define the location of an aircraft. Thus the GPS and satellites aid the ADS-B display a more accurate position of an airplane.

For ADS-B technology to work precisely, aircraft and ground controllers must be equipped with ADS-B in and out.

Student pilots that haven’t heard much about ADS-B are unaware of ADS-b in and ADS-B out.

What are the differences between ADS-b in and ADS-B out?

ADS-B in works as the ADS-B receiver. Portable ADS-B receivers are ADS-B devices.

So what is ADS-B out?

I will get to that, but let’s understand ADS-B first.

ADS-B or portable ADS-B devices enable airplanes to receive real-time weather data and relevant flight information.

However, having an ADS-B or portable ADS-B receiver does not enable the pilot to transmit their location to the ground controller.

Likewise, the airplane in your vicinity will be unaware of your location.

The job of an ADS-B receiver is to receive information on aircraft position and weather data.

But to see all these data, a pilot requires an ADS-B-compliant display. An iPad combined with a portable ADS-B receiver to display all the information is convenient for student pilots.

Having an ADS-B receiver as a pilot will increase your situational awareness.

But if you don’t have ADS-B in your airplane, you cannot enter ADS-B rule airspace.

From January 2020 Federal Aviation Administration Regulation requires every aircraft equipped with ADS-B to fly into Class A, B, and C airspace.

What exactly does ADS-B outdo?

ADS-B out transmits information about the location of the equipped aircraft to air traffic controllers and other aircraft.

An ADS-B in the aircraft allows the satellite to locate the airplane more accurately than a radar.

So the air traffic controller will have more accurate information about your ADS-B out equipped airplanes:

  • Location;
  • Altitude;
  • Speed of the aircraft;
  • Identification.

The air traffic controllers and any other airplane with an ADS-B receiver can see the exact information on an ADS-B in a compliant display such as the iPad.

  • An airplane equipped with ADS-B in and out can receive Data from other planes within a radius of 15 nautical miles and an altitude of 3500 feet.

To equip an airplane with ADS-B out means the aircraft either needs:

  • A Mode S transponder;
  • Or Universal access transceiver.

Generally, to operate an airplane in the ADS-B rule airspace, the airplane needs:

  • Wide Area Augmentation System (WAAS);
  • Upgraded Transponders;
  • Capability to input flight Id;
  • Upgrading the necessary software and hardware.

Do student pilots need an ADS-B receiver for iPad flying?

Now that I have already given you a general idea of ADS-B, you can decide whether you need an ADS-B.

But as a pilot myself, I think having a portable ADS-B receiver is excellent for flying.

Using the portable ADS-B receiver and getting access to more information as a student pilot will help you.

Even if your aircraft is not equipped with ADS-B, you can still see weather changes or the weather en route.

As I said, having a portable ADS receiver will increase a pilot’s situational awareness.

Having great situational awareness and getting used to the information available will help you become a better pilot.

Regardless of whether your aircraft has ADS-B out, you can see the benefits of using a portable ADS-B device once you start using it.

And once you fly an aircraft equipped with ADS-B in and ADS-B out, you will be much more comfortable using this next-generation air transportation system.

Nevertheless, having a portable ADS-B receiver is not required in an airplane.

On the contrary, FAA regulations don’t allow aircraft equipped with ADS-B to enter ADS-B rule airspace.

Thus if you as a pilot expect to fly in ADS-B rule airspace, having a portable ADS-B receiver and an iPad will not help you.

But as the use of ADS-B increases every day, soon expect to see ADS-B out components installed in all airplanes.

And as a student pilot flying an airplane with ADS-B out and your ADS-B portable receiver with an iPad will enable you to have a new experience in flying.

RELATED: Best iPad for Pilots.

What are the benefits of using ADS-B in modern-day Aviation?

As airspace and airports are getting more congested, ADS-B will reduce the risk of air traffic collisions by giving more accurate location information.

As a result, flights are becoming safer than ever, and the airline can operate their flights efficiently.

ADS-B ground equipment is cheaper, and installing them is more susceptible than installing a radar.

So, comprehensive area coverage is possible for ADS-B quickly.

How does having ADS-B-equipped aircraft ensure safety? An aircraft equipped with ADS-B in and ADS-B out improves situational awareness.

  • The pilot will be able to see the other traffic within 15 nautical miles radius of their aircraft;
  • The pilot can read the airspeed of the other aircraft as well as its altitude;
  • The pilot will get a heads up on the weather ahead and what to expect;
  • Users of ADS-B will receive updates on Temporary flight restrictions to runway closures.
  • ADS-B-equipped aircraft have a better VFR range coverage;
  • During an emergency, the ADS-B enables the search and rescue to locate the aircraft more accurately;
  • Visual separation in all weather conditions, for example, in MVR conditions;
  • Real-time cockpit weather and airspace display.

How has ADS-B contributed to the efficiency of operating aircraft?

ADS-B enables air traffic controllers to maintain a better flow of traffic.

By having accurate information about the aircraft’s position, it is easier for air traffic controllers to maintain:

  • Traffic separation;
  • Reduced separation on final approach;
  • Improved air traffic control service in congested airspaces.
  • Surface operations in lower visibility conditions.

Due to all these factors, airlines relying on ADS-B technology in their aircraft see a noticeable reduction in fuel burn and holding times.

How has the ADS-B out rule affected the aircraft operators?

As I mentioned, aircraft using ADS-B in their plane will benefit more.

But airplanes not equipped with ADS-B out avionics will be denied access from entering ADS-B rule airspace.

As more and more air traffic controllers and aircraft comply with ADS-B in and ADS-B out rules, you can say that aircraft without ADS-B equipment will be considered not airworthy for flying soon.

At least an aircraft must have an S mode transponder to operate so that the air traffic controller can see information about your flight.

Without an S mode transponder, your aircraft can not enter the airspace as you will not transmit adequate information to avoid collision inside the airspace.

The air traffic controllers in an ADS-B rule maintain a smooth flow of flights in a congested area, depending on the information of flights using ADS-B display and receiver.

Entering ADS-B rule airspace with no ADS-B out equipment in the airplane may hamper the smooth flow of traffic in the area. Thus the air traffic controller will not get accurate flight information on your aircraft.

So if you, as a student pilot, want to have an ADS-B receiver, that is not a bad idea. You can make a small investment to make your flight more entertaining and develop situational awareness.

But it is not going to support you entering ADS-B rule airspace.

RESOURCES: Gifts for Pilots.

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One Comment

  1. You Say “However, merely having an ADS-B or portable ADS-B receiver does not enable the pilot to transmit their location to the ground controller.’ more information please, like The system needs to include an ADS-B ground facility within range of the ADS-B equiped aircraft to receive your aircrafts data into the ATC system. In some remote areas ground receivers may not be within range.

    “From January 2020 Federal Aviation Administration Regulation requires every aircraft equipped with ADS-B to fly into Class A, B, and C airspace.” This could be reworded. to make the emphasis clearer. ‘From January 2020 Federal Aviation Administration Regulation requires every aircraft flyiing into Class A, B, and C airspace to have a working ADS-B out system.” Note as above, ATC probably require you to be within range of a ground station?

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