• An ADS-B ground station in Broome, WA. (Airservices Australia)
    An ADS-B ground station in Broome, WA. (Airservices Australia)

The Aircraft Owners and Pilots Assocation (AOPA) wants to re-open the debate around subsidies for ADS-B fitment.

Subsidies were proposed during the original debate that was sparked in October 2010, funded by the cost savings that Airservices Australia would realise by not having to upgrade en route radars. Figures of $10,000 for VFR and $15,000 for IFR aircraft were proposed at the time.

However, the mandate was introduced without any subsidies, forcing the cost burden onto operators, estimated in 2010 as $134.85 million.

In a letter posted for members on the AOPA website this week, AOPA President Aminta Hennessy said that the cost of fitting ADS-B under the IFR mandate had been enormous, which was a significant burden particularly for small operators.

"Years ago, AOPA was very involved in the debate relating to ADS-B," Hennessy says. "Airservices Australia brought it in ahead of the rest of the world making it mandatory to be for IFR aircraft to be equipped regardless of costs. My concern is for those aircraft owners and flight training organisations who operate an older fleet aircraft, with older GPS types.

"The costs to small operators has been enormous; combine that with Airservices Australia’s airspace and tower charges has only added to small aviation businesses being pushed towards extinction.

"Not only are we at AOPA listening to your concerns, but it is now timely that AOPA Australia re-starts discussions with Airservices, off the back of their strong profit performance, which has been driven by them no longer requiring maintenance of older legacy ground-based radio navigation equipment.

"Airservices profit performance is clearly derived from the reduced infrastructure costs and the introduction of ADS-B. This is why ADS-B was forced on the community.

"AOPA Australia is therefore writing to the CEO of Airservices Australia and the Minister of Transport, requesting a meeting to restart discussions."

According to Hennessy, the cost of upgrading an aircraft to ADS-B compliant is significantly higher now than the original figures presented in CASA's DP1006AS discussion paper in October 2010. Hennessy estimated the cost of fitted her fleet at Clamback and Hennessy as $25,000. CASA's estimate at the most expensive was $10,000.

AOPA Australia is seeking ADS-B cost input from members via a survey on the AOPA website.

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