February 13, 2018

Consulting on an ADS-B mandate

There are many technologies that have delivered improvements in aviation safety and efficiency and have therefore had wide adoption. Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast is certainly on track to be one of them.

ADS-B Out is a highly robust system that automatically transmits aircraft position and other flight data at a high repetition rate and with accuracy and integrity. This data is used by air traffic controllers to depict the aircraft’s position, altitude and other unique flight data without the need for radar and at a much lower cost. As of December 2017, the rate of ADS-B equipage in Canadian domestic airspace is 33%.

By using ground based ADS-B, NAV CANADA has extended surveillance to cover 4 million square kilometres of airspace previously without ATS surveillance. This has enabled safe increases in airspace capacity and more fuel efficient routings. Later this year, global ATS surveillance will be made available by the reception of ADS-B signals from the Iridium NEXT low earth orbiting satellites carrying the Aireon payload.

NAV CANADA has initiated a study to assess where and how Aireon could be used to enhance ATS surveillance coverage in Canadian Domestic Airspace and to examine the potential benefits of a Canadian ADS-B Out performance requirement mandate. Once completed, the study will be sent to Transport Canada as the decision for any mandate rests with the government.

Where VHF coverage exists, it is expected that Aireon will support the application of a 5 nautical mile separation between aircraft, providing the opportunity for significant efficiencies.

ADS-B will provide other safety benefits such as allowing controllers to minimize vertical errors by allowing for the selected flight level set by the flight crew to be compared to the cleared flight level. ADS-B will also ensure aircraft are visible to certified ACAS/TCAS systems, and will improve flight crew situational awareness through reception and display of ADS-B transmitting aircraft on tablet displays or smart phones.  Aireon’s ALERT service will also provide location and flight track information to assist emergency services with locating any ADS-B equipped aircraft anywhere in the world.

ADS-B has the potential to provide greater safety, capacity and efficiency and provide a flexible, expandable platform to accommodate future traffic growth while avoiding possible system delays and limitations in service.

ADS-B equipage mandates are not new. By January 1, 2020, aircraft must be equipped with ADS-B Out to fly in most controlled airspace in the United States. Australia, New Zealand, Mexico, and the European Union have also announced some form of ADS-B mandate.

NAV CANADA is currently examining a potential phased approach as follows:

  1. Class A, B and FL600 and above (Class E)
  2. Class C airspace, Class D control zones and Class E control zones
  3. All other controlled airspace

The study will examine system impact and impacts on customers and stakeholders as the proposed phasing encompasses progressively more airspace.

Consultations are currently underway and feedback from our customers and stakeholders is a critical part of the study. To provide your input, contact service@navcanada.ca with “ADS-B Mandate” in the subject line.


Do to the huge undeveloped areas in Canada, I have heard that 978 UAT ADS-b out won’t be accepted in Canada due to the numbers of ground stations that would be required. I fly from Washington State to BC several times per year. As 2020 nears, I dont want to spend the extra money for 1090es for my plane if 978 will work for GA flights in Canada. Please advise. Thanks!

I’m in the same situation that many people are: trying to figure out if an aircraft will be able to transit from the lower 48 to AK and avoid any airspace where 1096 will be required. Installing a 978 system will save thousands but I don’t want it to keep me from flying to AK. I hope this is being discussed and that the information will be publicized.


With the US FAA deadline fast approaching, many inexpensive ADS-B Out retrofit options are now available for even the most thrifty GA owners and operators. I would love to see this mandated, with adequate lead time, in Canada. As a GA pilot, I love the idea of having ADS-B traffic and (from ground stations where applicable) weather broadcast which I can received with a relatively inexpensive device. I see this as a win-win: increased commercial and general aviation safety at low cost to taxpayers, and increased cockpit situational awareness for pilots at relatively low cost to them.

One more vote for some help and guidance on 978 UAT ADS-B as I am also in Washington state and wanting to fly into BC. We are stuck determining whether to spend an extra 2 or more thousand dollars on 1090. I think I’ll stay safe and equip at this point but the lack of information one way or the other would be really helpful even if it is simply – “if you fly in Canada you have to have 1090”. It wouldn’t be great but at least we would know.

Understanding which frequency Canada will implement (when and if they do) will be beneficial for everyone in General aviation. If a dual band transponder is required, over a single 978MHz will save installation time, and the potential of anyone duplicating the process (installing 978 to be US compliant in 2020, then having to reinstall a 1090 for Canada after the fact).
A decision sooner than later, as 2020 approaches would be beneficial.

Sounds like space-based ADS-B if fait accompli judging by all of the drum beating about Aireon. If so, this makes a mockery of the “consultation” process.
While space-based is fine for the high flyers (I am one) with satellite-based ADS-B, it does nothing for the low flyers (I am one too) if there is no inter-operability with the ground based system for Canadians flying to the US and vice-versa.


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