CASA is in the final stages of preparing a Discussion Paper on the use of Automatic Dependent Surveillance – Broadcast (ADS-B) technology in aircraft operating under visual flight rules.
According to a CASA spokesperson, the Discussion Paper could be released for industry comment as early as next month.
ADS-B has been mandated in commercial instrument flight since February this year, and from 2020 IFR private flights will also require ADS-B, but neither mandate involves VFR aircraft.
In June 2016, then CASA CEO Mark Skidmore started Project 06/16 to investigate the use of low-cost ADS-B units in VFR aircraft, after the Australia Strategic Air Traffic Management Group (ASTRA) produced a paper encouraging CASA to allow VFR aircraft to use ADS-B units that were not certified, but complied with Technical Service Order (TSO) C199.
The ASTRA paper stated that fitting ADS-B to VFR aircraft would increase safety because the aircraft would be visible to ATC, on traffic collision avoidance systems (TCAS) and to other aircraft fitted with ADS-B In.
"ADS-B is the cornerstone for Australia's transition to satellite technology based surveillance," the CASA project brief states. "The technology has already enabled a vast increase in the air traffic surveillance coverage over Australian territory – resulting in significant increases in operating and safety efficiencies.
"No ADS-B fitment mandate applies to aircraft in the VFR category. While some VFR aircraft operators have chosen to equip their aircraft with IFR-compliant ADS-B equipment, the cost of such equipment is a disincentive for more widespread voluntary fitment."
Companies like Australia's Enigma Avionics have already designed low-cost ADS-B units to comply with the parameters of the project, and will be keen to see CASA introduce an enabling rule.