Capstone Participants To Get Free ADS-B Upgrade

FreeFlight Systems wins FAA contract to supply rule-compliant avionics.



The aircraft owners who received free ADS-B avionics as part of the FAA’s Capstone Program in Alaska are about to get another freebie. The FAA has chosen ADS-B avionics from FreeFlight Systems for the 600 aircraft that originally took part in the Alaska Capstone Program to bring them into compliance with the Jan. 1, 2020, ADS-B mandate.

The free upgrades fulfill an FAA promise to aircraft owners who installed version one ADS-B avionics during the Capstone Program. The FAA funded the installation of first-generation systems in exchange for pilot feedback to help refine the technologies and determine performance requirements. The FAA also committed to upgrading the avionics to meet the requirements as defined in the ADS-B “version two” final rule. Installations of the newer, rule-compliant FreeFlight Systems ADS-B avionics are scheduled to be completed by the end of next year.

The FAA launched the Capstone Program in 2001 to improve safety in the harsh flying environment of Alaska where small aircraft provide critical air transportation services. Capstone uses ADS-B and other technologies to track aircraft beyond radar coverage and also provides pilots with terrain, weather and traffic data for viewing on cockpit displays.

The program has been a huge success, resulting in a 57 percent reduction in the number of aviation accidents and fatalities in Alaska in the last decade. Today, ADS-B is a cornerstone technology of the NextGen modernization plan for U.S. airspace.