Global Airspace Mandates:
Benefits, Changes and Requirements

Benefits, Changes
& Requirements


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Regulatory authorities responsible for airspace management around the globe are requiring mandated avionics equipage by operators within their Flight Information Regions (FIRs) in order to create the next generation global airborne Communications, Navigation and Surveillance (CNS) ecosystem. This mandated equipage is necessary to help Air Navigation Service Providers (ANSPs) manage the projected increase in air traffic volumes over the next two decades. As governments continue to modernize with ground-based automation, aircraft-centric equipage upgrades are needed to keep pace.

Every segment of airspace user differs on the perspective and business case they must consider for mandated avionics equipage. However, the one commonality they all share is safety.

Avionics Magazine discusses requirements, dates and perspectives from the experts in the three regions that have established mandates over the next 10 years: North America, Europe, and the Asia Pacific.

North America

The most well known mandate in North America is the United States Federal Aviation Administration's (FAA) requirement for Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast (ADS-B) Out equipage beginning Jan. 1, 2020. ADS-B is the next generation GPS-based surveillance system the FAA is using to supplement, and in some cases replace, ground-based radar surveillance.

North Atlantic Track System Mandates
  1. Phase 2A commencing Feb. 5, 2015: FL350 to FL390 (inclusive) all tracks within the NAT OTS;
  2. Phase 2B commencing Dec. 7, 2017: FL350 to ­FL390 (inclusive) throughout the ICAO NAT region;
  3. Phase 2C commencing Jan. 30 2020: FL290 and above throughout the ICAO NAT region.

The cost of equipping legacy and new aircraft for the 2020 mandate in the U.S. depends heavily upon the type of aircraft that an operator is using, the existing avionics equipage, and the class of airspace that the aircraft will be operated within.

Operators should consult with their avionics maintenance facility, seek service bulletins from Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs) or use the FAA's new ADS-B equipage website which is also extremely helpful.

The equipment required to comply with the 2020 mandate is an advanced transponder, an accurate GPS position source, an interface mechanism, and annunciators. In some cases, your aircraft might also require a hardware or software upgrade for the Flight Management System (FMS) and some re-wiring as well. The transponder has to be DO-260B compliant, which is the highest ADS-B Out equipment standard in the world.

Operators, such as Delta Private Jets, are currently evaluating options.

“We are working with several of our vendors to see what solutions make the most sense for us. When the mandates do become a reality, we will be ready to comply,” says Scott McCool, vice president of maintenance at Delta Private Jets.

The U.S.-based turnkey aircraft management firm that operates a fleet of light, midsize, and large business jets ranging from Challenger 601s to Beechjet 400s, has to be knowledgeable of the mandates because they provide as much or as little aircraft maintenance and modification as fractional owners desire.

“We can take care of every operational, administrative and regulatory detail much like an in-house flight department would. This can include staffing, catering, scheduling, and any element relevant to owning and operating an aircraft,” McCool explains. “We take a very customized approach and have the expertise and capabilities to manage the aircraft as the owner requests, and in compliance with all applicable rules, regulations, and industry best practices.”

North Atlantic Track System
One other major mandate that connect operators flying the optimum North Atlantic Tracks routes should be aware of phase 2 of the North Atlantic Data Link Mandate (NAT DLM), which was adopted by the North Atlantic Systems Planning Group as occurring in 3 steps: Phase 2A, 2B and 2C. Currently, all aircraft operating on or at any point along two specified tracks within the NAT Organized Track System (OTS) between FL360 to FL390 (inclusive) during the OTS validity period are required to be fitted with and using Future Air Navigation System (FANS) 1/A (or equivalent) Controller to Pilot Data Link Communications (CPDLC) and Automatic Dependent Surveillance - Contract (ADS-C) equipment.


European government and industry aviation experts have developed a set of mandated avionics equipage requirements in an effort to create the most efficient Euro-wide air transportation system that benefits users across commercial, business and military segments.

European Mandates
  1. The new ADS-B compliance dates in European airspace are June 8, 2016 for new aircraft and June 7, 2020 for aircraft needing retrofit installation.
  2. Dec. 1, 2015 in Europe requires all aircraft to become equipped with Traffic Alert and Collision Avoidance System (TCAS II) version 7.1.

Recently, the European Commission mandated avionics equipage has shifted. On ADS-B, the European Commission has aligned more with the United States. The original compliance dates to operate in European ADS-B airspace were Jan. 8, 2015 for new aircraft and Dec. 7, 2017 for aircraft needing retrofit installations. The new compliance dates are June 8, 2016 for new aircraft and June 7, 2020 for aircraft needing retrofits.

As in the United States, there are well-established benefits for ADS-B Out in Europe; most importantly, the increased surveillance will allow for air traffic controllers to see more aircraft.

“The overall improvement in update rate, accuracy, etc., is expected to be able to support advanced operations. However, certainly in Europe at this stage, the first steps in terms of ADS-B are about basically continuing to support current operations with a more both cost-effective and spectrum-efficient surveillance infrastructure enabled by using ADS-B in combination with other techniques (Radar and Multilateration),” said David Bowen, chief of Air Traffic Management (ATM) for the Single European Sky ATM Research (SESAR) Agency. “The next step would be the use of ‘ADS-B In' based applications. This is the capability of ADS-B on the aircraft not only to broadcast its own position for other people to use, but for that aircraft to be able to receive those transmissions from all the other broadcasting aircraft and, for example, display it on the traffic display for the pilot and provide certain cockpit-based applications. This is where ADS-B starts to really deliver benefits because it allows for certain kinds of applications related to spacing to be managed on the aircraft, and ultimately even separation to be managed on the aircraft itself, allowing advanced operations potentially moving to airspace where you can manage your own separation in a more effective way.”

Some operators, such as Dublin, Ireland-based Ryanair, which operates a fleet of Boeing 737-800s, are currently mulling decisions on whether upgrading their aircraft to start squawking ADS-B, or purchasing new aircraft off the production line already equipped to comply provide the best business case.

“We will require a new transponder and our current transponder cannot be upgraded to meet the new specification,” said John Clear, deputy director of technical services at Ryanair. “The major overriding criteria for aircraft purchase versus upgrade is operational efficiency (maintenance costs; fuel burn etc.). For existing aircraft and any decision on new avionics suite selection, the biggest challenge we see right now is future proofing our avionics suite against potential future mandates.”

Another mandate that goes into effect Dec. 1, 2015 in Europe requires all aircraft to become equipped with Traffic Alert and Collision Avoidance System (TCAS II) version 7.1. All TCAS OEM manufacturers are currently offering 7.1 upgrades that enable mitigation of mid-air collision risk in situations where aircraft separation is reduced, such as with FANS 1A airspace. This was an issue with TCAS 7.0 that was corrected by RTCA DO 185B and Eurocae ED-143.

The third mandate that is most prevalent in Europe is Link 2000+, which was implemented in Europe to serve as a high-speed CPDLC connection for aircraft flying above Flight Level 28,500 (FL285) to decrease radio frequency congestion within en route airspace. It is supported by the ground-based Aeronautical Telecommunications Network (ATN) Baseline 1, which operates over the VHF Data Link Mode 2 (VDL M2) subnetwork. ATN B1 datalink technology has been envisioned as an intermediate step until the follow-on, globally interoperable ATN Baseline 2 (ATN B2) CPDLC system becomes available, according to a service bulletin issued by Textron Aviation earlier this year.

The forward-fit and retrofit date for CPDLC Link 2000+ equipage in Europe is now Feb. 5, 2020.


Australia has a number of different mandates in place, beginning with its requirement for legacy aircraft to be retrofitted with ADS-B Out (DO-260 or later) avionics as of December 2013.

Australian Mandates
  1. Any aircraft registered on or after Feb. 6, 2014 operated under Instrument Flight Rules is required to carry ADS-B transmitting equipment compliant with the Australian Civil Aviation Safety Authority's (CASA) Civil Aviation Order 20.18.
  2. Beginning in February 2016, any aircraft operated under IFR in Class A-E airspace and within the arc of a circle that starts 500 nautical miles true north from Perthaerodrome and finishes 500 nautical miles true east from Perth Airport must carry serviceable ADS-B transmitting equipment that complies with Civil Aviation Order 20.18.
  3. Starting in February 2017, all aircraft registered before Feb. 6, 2014 operated under IFR requires ADS-B equipage complying with Civil Aviation Order 20.18.

The Asia-Pacific nation does not have any mandates requiring DO-260B equipage, and is already allowing SA = ON GPS sources but also has a forward-fit mandate for SA = Aware in 2016.

One of the main drivers for the shift toward the usage of ADS-B for Airservices Australia is to convert non-surveillance airspace into surveillance airspace, says Greg Dunston, manager of surveillance strategic planning and architecture for Airservices Australia.

“ADS-B out is a foundation for further increases and innovation in air traffic modernization and aircraft tracking. However, the more driving initiative for Australia is that we are converting non-surveillance airspace into surveilled airspace,” said Dunston. “We have 22 civil and seven military radars sites in a country the size of continental USA, which has more than 450 radars.

ADS-B Radar in Broome Australia

Therefore, the situation is that Australia is ‘catching up' with Europe and the U.S. in having continent-wide surveillance, something that Europe and the U.S. had decades ago.”

According to the latest equipage data for registered aircraft in Australia, as of Sept. 14, 2015, 99.5 percent of all commercial flights above FL290 are equipped with ADS-B avionics. Another 66 percent of all IFR flights are using ADS-B. The biggest concern for Australia is the helicopter community, as currently only 29 percent of all IFR helicopter operations there are being performed using ADS-B, Dunston says.


The International Air Transportation Association (IATA) expects China to overtake the United States as the world's largest air passenger market by 2030, with 1.3 billion passengers per year projected to be flying to and from China by 2034.

China Mandates
  1. As of December 2014, ADS-B Out is required above FL290 in Hong Kong airspace;
  2. Commercial operators are required to equip 10 percent of their aircraft fleet with HUDs beginning in 2015;
  3. Commercial operators are required to equip 50 percent of their aircraft fleet with HUDs beginning in 2020;
  4. Commercial operators are required to equip 100 percent of their aircraft fleet with HUDs beginning in 2025.

To deal with that expected increase, the Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC) has implemented an aircraft Head-Up Display (HUD) mandate, which requires Chinese operators to retrofit their aircraft with HUD systems that display critical flight data on a glass screen in front of pilots. CAAC also has implemented mandates around ADS-B Out, and FANS 1/A progressively over the next decade.

Here's what operators in China need to be aware of:

  1. As of December 2014, ADS-B Out is required above FL290 in Hong Kong airspace;
  2. Commercial operators are required to equip 10 percent of their aircraft fleet with HUDs beginning in 2015;
  3. Commercial operators are required to equip 50 percent of their aircraft fleet with HUDs beginning in 2020;
  4. Commercial operators are required to equip 100 percent of their aircraft fleet with HUDs beginning in 2025.

While these mandates are only applicable to commercial operators, business aviation operators should stay on alert for any future announcements from CAAC regarding other equipage mandates.

VistaJet, for example, recently registered its first aircraft in China and is aware of the HUD mandates' applicability to commercial carriers. “Traditionally we have been flying in that region a lot, but now we want to do the real point-to-point operations,” said Nick Van Der Meer, chief operating officer at VistaJet. “Just like other regions, there are equipment mandates in place there, and we'll look to comply with any that are applicable to our aircraft as we continue to see China as a growing market for business aviation.”

The Rest of the Asia Pacific

The Asia Pacific region is projected to become the largest aviation market globally in terms of air traffic volume over the next two decades. Some of the various airspace modernization programs occurring there include the Future Indian Air Navigation Service (FIANS) initiative in India, Vision 2018 in New Zealand, Australia's One Sky program, and the Civil Aviation Bureau of Japan's Collaborative Actions for Renovation of Air Traffic (CARATS).

Asian Mandates
  1. Singapore: The Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore (CAAS) started mandating ADS-B Out equipage to the DO-260 standard in 2014 above FL 290. CAAS ADS-B Out equipage requirements are available via AIP Supplement 254/13.
  2. Indonesia: Starting January 1st, 2018, The Republic of Indonesia Ministry of Transportation is requiring all aircraft flying within the Jakarta FIR and Ujung Pandang FIR at or above FL290 to carry serviceable ADS-B equipment, including a Mode S transponder and GNSS source position. Details available via Republic of Indonesia Ministry of Transportation's Supplement no. 08/15.
  3. Taiwan: The Taiwan Civil Aeronautics Administration currently requires aircraft operating along airways B576 and B591 above FL290 to be equipped with ADS-B to the DO-260 standard. All aircraft operating in the Taipei FIR at or above FL290 will be required to carry ADS-B equipment starting January 1, 2017. Equipage requirements are available via AIP supplement 08/14.

ANSPs and operators based in developing markets, such as the Philippines, are looking to catch up with the rest of the world in terms of modernization.

“There are no mandates currently in the Philippines, however we are preparing to be ready to upgrade if that becomes the case,” said Alfred Laureles, director of maintenance at PhilJets, a Manila-based private jet charter and helicopter tour operator. “The Asia Pacific region is still diverse and not all countries are at the same level, or with the same experience behind them. PhilJets has already started to bring some improved standards in our operations and we intend to develop it further. We want to pave the way to change the perception of the Philippines being behind the rest of the world's aviation community.”

If you currently are operating in the Asia-Pacific region or are planning to start operations there soon, Blair Cowles, regional director of safety and flight operations for IATA's Asia Pacific division, recommends being aware that existing dates and future avionics mandates requirements could shift.

“The International Civil Aviation Organization has developed the Asia Pacific Seamless ATM Plan to provide guidance to states and encourage a future where operations are seamless within the region,” said Cowles. “Mandates must be planned and notified well in advance to provide stakeholders time to prepare and for the correct processes to be followed by states in implementation particularly when over high seas airspace.”

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