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

CASA has published a proposal to amend the Civil Aviation Orders (CAO) to allow VFR aircraft to fit low-cost ADS-B units.

The regulator hopes the concept will encourage owners of VFR aircraft to fit ADS-B, which is now mandatory for all IFR operations both commercial and private.

Under the proposal, VFR aircraft would be allowed to use non-TSO'd equipment complying with a different technical standard to that fitted to IFR aircraft.

"CASA sees value and a safety benefit if more VFR aircraft have ADS-B equipment," the proposal summary states. "To encourage this, industry is being consulted on new technical standards aimed specifically for voluntary fitment in VFR aircraft. These new ADS-B equipment standards may not be suitable for ATC surveillance separation in controlled airspace, but will provide an enhanced situation awareness capability.

The new technical standards proposed include portable Electronic Conspicuity (EC) devices, self-contained Traffic Awareness Beacon System (TABS) devices and the ability to integrate a TABS position source with a Mode S transponder. CASA is also proposing to allow for non-TSO transponder and ADS-B equipment to be used in a range of aircraft, including LSAs and experimental aircraft.

"Each of these options allow the aircraft to be seen by other aircraft equipped with ADS-B IN capability (such as a tablet device or fixed cockpit display)," CASA states. "The overall aim is for IFR and VFR pilots to have enhanced awareness about other aircraft, particularly during operations in regional areas and non-controlled airspace."

CASA released the discussion paper in December 2017, with the responses collected showing significant support for the concept with 1090MHz technology preferred over other ADS-B systems such as Universal Access Tranceiver (UAT).

In the proposal, CASA specifically points out that VFR fitment will remain completely voluntary, stating that there is no intention to mandate ADS-B in VFR aircraft.

Feedback to the proposal can be submitted via the CASA Consultation Hub by 13 March 2020.

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