About ADS-B

SESAR Deployment Manager, supported by Eurocontrol on ADS-B, is contributing to a more efficient, safe and sustainable air transport system across Europe

In recent years ADS-B emerged as a cost effective surveillance technology with great potential towards innovative applications.

ADS-B involves the aircraft using a certified position source to determine own position and broadcasting it in short intervals by means of a data link in radio frequency spectrum. This functionality is usually referred to as ADS-B Out.

Conversely, an aircraft can be fitted with an ADS-B receiver – processor to display the detected ADS-B transmissions from other aircraft to the pilot. This is then referred to as ADS-B In.

With ADS-B, realtime visiblity is provided to air traffic control and to other equipped ADS-B aircraft with position and velocity data transmitted periodically. ADS-B also provides the data infrastructure for inexpensive flight tracking, planning, and dispatch.

In high complexity environments such as the EU airspace, ADS-B is envisaged to operate in conjunction with existing independent cooperative chains, greatly enhancing accuracy, data availability and reducing frequency load.

Implementation status

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FAA Successfully Completes Final ADS-B Milestone

WASHINGTON – The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) completed its final implementation milestone with Automatic Dependent Surveillance – Broadcast (ADS-B),...

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16 Oct, 2019

Air operators committed to sharing EU ADS-B implementation plans

According to the latest planning data aggregated by SESAR Deployment Manager (SDM), airspace users...

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12 Jul, 2019

EU ADS-B airborne equipage trend accelerating

Airborne equipage has doubled since October 2018 in the European Union. This trend is...

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12 Jul, 2019

ADS-B in Europe

SPI-IR Implementation

To pave the way for the transformation of the European surveillance infrastructure towards the less costly and more spectrum efficient ADS-B technology, Airspace Users operating in EU airspace with airplanes of more than 5.7 tons maximum certified takeoff mass (MTOM) and maximum cruising true airspeed capability greater than 250 knots (KTAS) have been mandated by European Commission per Commission Implementing Regulation EU No 1207/2011 (SPI IR), amended by EU No 1028/2014 and EU 2017/386 to implement SPI IR compliant avionics, including ADS-B version 2 (according to EASA CS-ACNS and EUROCAE ED-102A) before June 7th 2020. The mandate applies to all GAT/IFR flights within the EU airspace, including operators whose state of registry is outside of the EU but operate into or across the EU airspace.

The European Commission tasked SESAR Deployment Manager (SDM) with the planning and execution of a coordinated and synchronized aircraft and ground implementation of ADS-B. In response to this request SDM produced the ADS-B Implementation Plan, the first edition of which was delivered and published in December 2018. SDM partnered with EUROCONTROL which supports the activity, by, amongst others, performing the operational and technical coordination, feedback from its NM performance monitoring on ADS-B as well as contributing to the preparation of the activity deliverables

On the basis of extensive surveys and interaction with EU-based operators, maintenance facilities, equipment vendors and aircraft manufacturers, the Plan showed that 70–75% equipage rate could be achieved in the EU registered, SPI-IR mandated fleet by the compliance deadline June 7th 2020.

The need for transitional arrangements

A cursory review of the diagram above will reveal that even the best effort possible will leave a substantial proportion of the fleet not compliant with the rule on the compliance deadline June 7th, 2020.

In recognition of the complexity and the nature of the underlying causes, the European Commission tasked EASA with drafting of a commensurate transitional regime in the form of an exemptions policy and an associated application process.

The exemption policy is expected to be published in the latter half of 2019.

SESAR Deployment Manager prepared input to support the definition of the potential exemption policy. A key part was based on a survey which addressed 70 of the major EU airlines, comprising around 47% of the mandated EU fleet. The analysis was restricted to retrofits only and identified three main groups as candidates for the exemptions regime:

  • The “Late implementation” group, comprising aircraft that are planned for fitment but can only reach the deadline with disproportionally high effort or are limited by Service Bulletin or STC availability, parts availability or workshop capacity and scheduling constraints. SESAR Deployment Manager estimated the magnitude of this group at approximately 17% of all EU registered airframes. A tightly ring-fenced transition period extending beyond the compliance deadline of June 7th 2020 will provide a much needed respite to operators and allow them to insert the implementation of ADS-B in their regular maintenance schedules.
  • The “Phase out” group, comprising aircraft that are anticipated to cease operations in EU airspace before substantial operational use of their planned ADS-B capability by ground systems could be expected. Consequently, airlines argue that requiring their fitment violates the principle of proportionality. The estimated volume of this group is around 10% aircraft. SESAR Deployment Manager expects that some migration of aircraft will occur between these two groups as airlines continually adjust their fleet planning strategies.
  • The “Onboard architecture” group, comprising odd onboard architecture configurations where the fitment of a compliant solution is financially prohibitive or technically unfeasible. In rarer cases there in no solution defined. SDM estimated the volume of this fleet at around 3% airframes and shrinking.

SESAR Deployment Manager input to the exemption policy is summarized in the figure below:

Global ADS-B implementations and regulations

There are numerous ADS-B mandates anticipated or already in place in many parts of the world. The map below shows in green regions requiring at least ADS-B version 0, in dark blue the ones requiring ADS-B version 2, together with the anticipated date of entry-into-force, and in grey where regulatory activity is ongoing and mandates are expected in the near future. Note that the map will be regularly updated as new information becomes available.

Integration in the European ATM systems

The EU Air Navigation Service Providers (ANSPs) have reported a substantial ADS-B sensor coverage in Europe available from ground based systems; primarily from combined WAM/ADS-B systems but also ADS-B only Ground systems. ADS-B capable radars as well as space-based ADS-B coverage are expected to make a substantial contribution towards a global ADS-B coverage in the coming years.

Having secured coverage, the ANSP will next proceed to integrate ADS-B data in its surveillance chain; this integration in the EU ATM systems is currently limited, with ANSPs citing aircraft ADS-B equipage, ADS-B performance and regulatory concerns as the necessary conditions to be resolved. However, a majority of EU based national ANSPs have at least some plans in place to proceed with integration in the near future, given the availability of a sufficient aircraft equipage ratio. SDM believes that those concerns will be addressed and resolved adequately as ADS-B implementation progresses.

If the integration is properly synchronized across domains and supported by a competent programme to catalyze ground investment plans, many ANSPs indicated their willingness to commit to technical and operational integration activities that could use the ADS-B sensor coverage across the vast majority of the continental airspace as early as 2023.

The primary use-case for ADS-B in the complex and traffic heavy European airspace is that of a complementary sensor to independent surveillance. In that role, ADS-B will open up substantial rationalization potential in the very dense European network of secondary radars. The use of ADS-B as sole means will occur in specific environments, characterized by low traffic density and/or lack of independent alternatives. This use case has already been successfully deployed operationally in a number of locations; the ICAO NAT region is a prime deployment location for sole-means ADS-B.

It is evident that a strong momentum to progress with ADS-B deployment exists in both the airborne and the ground domain. A harmonized ground and air deployment programme is important to synchronize and catalyze these efforts, to ensure that substantial ADS-B operational use is commonplace in Europe from mid 2020s.


Airborne Domain

Will there be exemptions from ADS-B carriage beyond 7th June 2020?

Currently, there are no exemptions for the carriage of ADS-B version 2 equipment in place. SPI-IR mandated airframes shall be compliant by June 7th, 2020.

SDM survey in 2018 found that due to operational and procurement challenges some airlines will ultimately fail to meet the compliance date. Therefore, SDM believes that some very limited discretion should be shown to airlines demonstrating a clear and robust indication of procurement and ADS-B implementation.

EC requested EASA to provide a duly justified revision of the exemptions section of SPI IR. The final decision, embedded in the revision of SPI IR, is expected for publication Q4 2019.

Are there any Ground ADS-B use cases in the near future?

Air Navigation Service Providers reported that there are implementations of ADS-B sensors ongoing to complement redundant surveillance layers, and some limited operational use is already occurring. A high airborne equipage rate will be needed to allow for an ADS-B driven progressive rationalization of the highly redundant Secondary Surveillance Radar network in the European continental airspace.

A number of large European ANSPs announced major surveillance infrastructure renewal programs commencing 2020, which will present an opportunity to progress with ADS-B deployment.

Why do I have to upgrade from ADS-B Version 0 and Version 1 to Version 2?

ADS-B Version 2 provides the performance required to safely provide ATC service in the dense and complex European continental airspace.

Version 2 ADS-B conveys improved data accuracy, latency and integrity, borne among others from the requirement to directly wire the Global Navigation Sensor System to the ADS-B Transponder unit.

What is the difference between the EU and the US mandate?

The two mandates are very similar, however there are a few differences. One difference relates to that the US mandate has additional requirements on the Position data quality as well as operational requirements linked to the position source used, where some are subject to a temporary exemption until 31 December 2024.

Refer to the FAA website for the detailed exemption policy

A well rounded description of the FAA mandate is available here.

Ground Domain

Is ADS-B intended as a replacement of the Secondary Surveillance Radar?

At system component level it is expected to happen in an increasing measure; this decision is for each ANSP to make, taking into account the specifics of own operational environment. As a technology, in continental Europe ADS-B is expected to complement, rather than replace, the independent cooperative layer, consisting of Mode S and multilateration systems and to a diminishing part, the legacy Mode A/C radars. The respective EUROCAE Standard for this application is the ED-161 and the deployment is already in progress in Europe.

Work is ongoing in further standardization of integrating ADS-B with independent cooperative sensors.

Surveillance based on Secondary radar and Multilateration gives us full coverage of the traffic in our Area of Responsibility. When can we expect comparable equipage from ADS-B?

Based on the surveys, SDM anticipates the mandated fleet to reach the vicinity of 75% in mid-2020, 93% in 2023 and approach 100% in 2025; within a margin that is yet to be determined by future provisions, including the accommodation of a relatively small number of aircraft planned for phase-out before 2025, as well as by the stakeholders’ commitment to implementation. Learning from the experience with the implementation of the US mandate and from recent work carried out by SDM, the two most effective components in promoting compliance are timely clarity on anticipated regulatory action and continued support of the stakeholders in the form of frequent provision of up-to-date information to increase awareness as well as technical and operational coordination. Assuming both are put into effect in Europe, SDM believes that such percentages are reachable objectives.

As to what concerns General Aviation and other types of operations which reside outside of the scope of SPI IR, this domain is currently under the responsibility of EASA; queries and concerns regarding these types of operations should be addressed directly to EASA.

Can we expect improvements in ADS-B performance?

Yes; the mandated ADS-B Version 2 eliminates a large proportion of known causes of abnormal behavior observed in the previous versions. As usual, it will the responsibility of each individual ANSP to independently verify ADS-B performance before committing to a provision of ADS-B enabled ATC service.

What about Space-based ADS-B?

Space-based ADS-B is a relatively recent technology which utilizes a network of communication satellites placed in the Low Earth orbit (LEO) to provide ADS-B coverage “from above”. The LEO constellation listens to ADS-B messages broadcast from aircraft and forwards them to subscribers using a low latency link.

The performance of the space-based ADS-B surveillance is sufficient to allow a drastic reduction in ICAO Doc 4444 PANS ATM longitudinal and lateral separation minima for aircraft equipped with ADS-B Out, which is currently on consultation in ICAO. To apply these new separation standards, a number of prescribed conditions must be met, including RNP and RCP. The new standards reduce the applicable minima to 19 NM / 17 NM longitudinal and can be further reduced to 15/14 NM in specific traffic conditions. NAV CANADA and NATS are currently in the process of applying these new separation standards in the NAT Region, with other ICAO NAT ANSPs expected to follow suit.

Space-based ADS-B will also enable continental coverage and ANSPs will be able to procure this as a surveillance service.

Aireon consortium (aireon.com) is the world’s first provider of this service and was recently awarded the Air Navigation Service Provider certificate by EASA. Aireon utilizes the Iridium NEXT network of 66 LEO satellites providing global coverage.


ADS-B Automatic Dependent Surveillance – Broadcast
ADS-B Version 0 EUROCAE ED-102 / RTCA D260
ADS-B Version 1 RTCA DO-260A
ADS-B Version 2 EUROCAE ED-102A / RTCA DO-260B
ANSP Air Navigation Service Provider
ATM Air Traffic Management
CEF Connecting Europe Facility, an EU infrastructure funding instrument under administration by INEA
Cooperative vs non-cooperative surveillance Refers to whether the surveillance system includes any onboard components required to function.
EASA European Union Aviation Safety Agency
FAA Federal Aviation Administration
GAT General Air Traffic, ICAO definition
ICAO NAT North Atlantic region
Independent cooperative surveillance A surveillance method that requires both onboard and off-board (terrestrial or satellite based) components to function and where the surveillance position is determined by the surveillance system itself.
Independent vs dependent surveillance Refers to whether the surveillance position is determined by the surveillance system itself (independent) or reported by the aircraft (dependent).
INEA Innovation and Networks Executive Agency
IFR Instrument Flight Rules
OAT Operational Air Traffic, ICAO definition
SPI IR Surveillance Performance and Interoperability Implementing Regulation
STC Supplemental Type Certificate
WAM Wide Area Multilateration


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