2020 ADS-B Mandate: What You Need to Know about Upgrading Your Aircraft Transponder


Trever Rossini is the owner of Inflight Pilot Training and Citadel Aircraft Maintenance at Flying Cloud Airport (FCM) in Eden Prairie, Minnesota.

If you’re an aircraft owner operating in the United States, you’re required to update your airplane avionics in accordance with the Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast (ADS-B) Out mandate by January 1, 2020. As the date inches ever closer, aircraft owners should educate themselves on the mandate so they can properly prepare and keep flying past 2020.

To assist you in your efforts, Citadel Aircraft Maintenance has developed this guide on the mandate. Here’s what you need to know about complying with the upcoming ADS-B mandate.

The Short of It

The mandate essentially states that aircraft owners will need to install ADS-B Out anywhere a Mode-C transponder is required. At this point, you have two options; purchase equipment now at a slightly cheaper cost and a quicker turnaround for install, or wait until 2020 when everybody log jams the installers, and be faced with higher prices due to rise in demand.

Unfortunately, anyone that flies in airspace where a transponder is required will not be exempt from the 2020 mandate. While certain cases may arise that delay some operational aspects of the mandate, the wide-ranging impact of this rule will affect aircraft owners and operators in the U.S. and around the world in just a year and a half. As such, pilots should know what ADS-B solutions are available for their aircraft, plan accordingly and consider upgrade options.

What is FAR Part 91.225?

FAR Part 91.225 outlines the specific airspace requirements, and the regulation applies to the vast majority of business aircraft. The regulation states that unless otherwise authorized by air traffic control, no pilot may operate an aircraft in Class A, Class B, Class C and certain Class E airspace, or within 30 nautical miles of specifically designated airports without first being equipped with ADS-B Out transponder.   

In terms of transponder use, the airspace affected by FAR 91.225 is similar to the airspace impacted by FAR 91.215. An exception can be made for aircraft that were not originally certified with an electrical system or retrofitted with a certified system.

You should also know that ADS-B Out requirements apply no matter which FAR an operator typically flies under. Whether it’s Part 91, 121, 125, 135 or some other FAA regulation, the ADS-B Out mandate will still be strictly enforced come January 1, 2020.


Fulfilling the ADS-B Requirement

To fulfill the ADS-B requirement, aircraft owners will need to have either an integrated or stand-alone transponder installed on their plane. For those pilots with a Mode-S transponder, it may be possible to upgrade it with ADS-B capabilities depending upon the aircraft’s existing equipment

Operators also require a position source in the United States and, in many areas, a source that must be Selective Availability (SA) capable, which essentially equates to having a Wide Area Augmentation System (WAAS) GPS position source.

If you’re an owner or operator that flies internationally, it’s possible that you may already have an ADS-B Out transponder installed to meet requirements already in place in countries such as Indonesia, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Australia and Taiwan, where their own mandates are currently in effect. For those planning to fly in ADS-B airspace outside of the United States, a 1090ES datalink—using a Mode S Extended Squitter transponder—will be required. Other major airspaces around the world, such as Canada, Europe and Mexico, also have their own 2020 mandate requirements.


Planning Your ADS-B Out Update

Before you head to your nearest airplane mechanic and tell him to give your plane the works, take a look at this handy ADS-B Out Selector Tool from the AOPA. This flowchart will help you determine the best solution for your aircraft.

Once you’ve determined your needs for an ADS-B equipment, it’s time to start planning a solution for the update. Beware that in this phase, you shouldn’t consider budget alone – you should also account for available shop time and required operational testing.

With most avionics shops booking work more than six months in advance, now is the time to plan your installation. Shop availability concerns are compounded by the fact that OEMs tend to limit service bulletins to their repair centers only. For example, instead of having a pool of 150 potential repair stations, you’re now restricted to only a handful of options. And, as we mentioned earlier, many aircraft owners and operators will leave the updates for last minute, causing a backlog of work at avionics shops across the country.

Additionally, even a seemingly simple upgrade requires a certain degree of wiring, testing and re-testing, to ensure that it’s fully operational – overall, you’ll experience, on average, about two weeks of downtime to get your aircraft upgraded to ADS-B Out.

Upgrading Other Plane Components

While you’re forced to have your transponder upgraded, it gives you a chance to upgrade other components of your panel, as well. For instance, equipping a plane with ADS-B Out will likely require you or the mechanic to remove the complete aircraft interior and floorboards to gain access to the rear of the panel. This will undoubtedly cost you time and money, so think carefully about what upgrades you may want within the next one to two years and plan on getting it all done at once to preserve your airtime and save your budget.

We at Citadel Aircraft Maintenance recommend checking with your maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) facility to determine the best approach for improving airplane components when installing an ADS-B Out system.

The final step in validating your installation’s ADS-B accuracy is to request a Public ADS-B Performance Report (PAPR) from the FAA. The report runs down the operability of your new system, It’s free and there is no penalty or violation assessed if any concerns are identified.

Thankfully, once you have upgraded your system, you won’t need to conduct further maintenance checks or inspections to ensure your ADS-B Out system is healthy. All data is automatically sent to the FAA.

Popular ADS-B Transponders

Here’s a look at some of the more popular ADS-B Out equipment options:

Garmin GTX 345

The Garmin GTX 345 is an all-in-one transponder that features both ADS-B Out and In capabilities. This system is a one-box, one-swap, plug-and-play solution that enables owners and operators to meet ADS-B Out requirements with minimal expense, downtime and disruption to their panels.

Stratus ESG

The Stratus ESG transponder is one of the more cost-effective solutions on the market, with easily-installed certified avionics available for general aircraft. This simple system includes a 1090 ES transponder and certified WAAS GPS in the same box.

Lynx NGT-9000

The Lynx NGT-9000 is a transponder fit for the 21st century. With a color touchscreen display, datalink weather, WAAS/GPS and more, you get a simple, certified, one-box replacement for your old transponder.

In Conclusion

Overall, the 2020 ADS-B Out mandate will affect almost every aircraft owner or operator in the United States. It’s crucial to get your transponder upgraded as soon as possible, otherwise you’re likely to face service delays, soaring costs and other headaches that will keep you grounded. Now that you’re equipped with the necessary information, you can go into the upgrade process with confidence, and never have to worry about it again!

Looking for help with your airplane upgrades?

Get in touch with the professional team of aircraft maintenance technicians at Citadel today!


Located at Flying Cloud airport in Minnesota, our private airplane mechanics are here to provide your aircraft with the best servicing and upkeep so you can always have a spectacular flight. We can help you navigate the complex mandates coming up in 2020 or with any other upgrade needs you may have – all you need to do is give us a call!


The experience we offer gives pilots confidence in their aircraft and sets future expectations for a higher level of service. At Citadel Aircraft Maintenance, we will always treat our clients’ planes like our own.


Get in touch with our team for a free quote on your aircraft’s maintenance needs.


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