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ADAPTing to ADS-B How Non-Equipped Operators Can Request Access to ADS-B Rule Airspace

by Tom Hoffmann, FAA Safety Briefing Managing Editor

Got ADS-B? If you’re based in, or frequently transit airspace that requires a transponder, there’s a good chance you had your aircraft outfitted with Automatic Dependent Surveillance–Broadcast Out technology to comply with the January 1, 2020 mandate. However, for some aircraft owners on the outer fringe of ADS-B Out rule airspace, or in more remote areas with predominantly Class G airspace, the decision to equip was not quite as clear-cut. The question that comes up now for those who did not equip with ADS-B Out is — can I still access “rule” airspace as defined in 14 CFR 91.225? The answer is ... it depends.

The FAA anticipated the need to allow some operators not equipped with ADS-B Out, or those with systems that don’t meet the performance requirements, to access rule airspace on a case-by-case basis. The agency outlined the parameters for this deviation capability in April 2019 with a Federal Register policy statement (go.usa.gov/xpdEG). According to the policy statement, ATC will continue to provide air traffic services to aircraft operating within its airspace, including those aircraft not equipped with ADS-B Out. However, a non-equipped operator will be responsible for ensuring compliance with the regulations and for obtaining authorization before flying.

To request a preflight authorization for aircraft that do not meet the performance or equipage requirements for ADS-B Out, pilots can access the new ADS-B Deviation Authorization Preflight Tool (ADAPT) online at faa.gov/go/adapt.

The FAA’s ADAPT Tool web page.

Before you use the ADAPT tool, though, here are a few important factors to consider:

  • Aircraft must be equipped with an operational transponder and operational altitude encoder (e.g., Mode C).
  • Requests must be submitted no earlier than 24 hours before your intended departure time.
  • Requests must be submitted no later than one hour before your intended departure time.

You must use the online ADAPT tool to request an authorization. Requests made via telephone or while inflight will not be considered.

The steps needed to submit preflight authorization into rule airspace using ADAPT are below.

Step 1: Access the ADAPT Website

Submit your authorization request no earlier than 24 hours before, and no later than one hour before, your intended departure time.

Step 2: Enter Flight Details using the Flight Information Entry Form

This step checks for alternate surveillance availability based upon your proposed route of flight and aircraft avionics equipment configuration. Please note this step does not constitute filing a flight plan.

Step 3: Enter the Deviation Request and Additional Flight Details

Provide additional details describing the nature of your deviation request. You must verify your information is correct and accurate by selecting the verification checkbox or the request cannot be submitted.

Step 6: Receive Request Status

After submitting a request, you will receive an immediate automated response via the ADAPT website indicating the status of the request (Approved, Denied, Pending) followed by an official FAA email response. When you receive an official email approval, you are authorized to conduct your flight.

Note: Pending requests are sent to an FAA-designated Air Traffic Control (ATC) representative who will review the request. These personnel are available between 6:00 am and 10:00 pm Eastern Time. All pending requests will be automatically denied 30 minutes before the proposed flight if not reviewed by the ATC representative.

Keep in mind that several factors determine whether a request will be accommodated. These include Air Traffic Control (ATC) workload, runway configurations, weather, and operations into capacity-constrained airports (i.e., airports operating at (85-percent capacity or greater). You should never assume that the agency can, or will, grant authorization to operate, even for operations outside a capacity-constrained area. The only way to ensure seamless access to ADS-B rule airspace is to equip with the appropriate ADS-B Out equipment.

For more information on ADAPT, including an ADAPT tutorial video and frequently asked questions, please go to faa.gov/go/adapt. You can also send questions to adapthelp@faa.gov.

Tom Hoffmann is the managing editor of FAA Safety Briefing. He is a commercial pilot and holds an A&P certificate.

This article was originally published in the March/April 2020 issue of FAA Safety Briefing magazine.

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