Europe Is Struggling with Its ADS-B Mandate Too

Only 20 percent of Europe's airline fleet is ready for the 2020 deadline, which many carriers will likely miss.

munich landing
European airlines are struggling to meet the EC's June 2020 compliance date for ADS-B.DFS Deutsche Flugsicherung

The European Commission is warning that airlines in Europe will not be ready for the EU’s ADS-B compliance date of June 7, 2020, but reiterated recently that the deadline will not change.

“The final implementation dates…stand and must be met,” wrote Henrik Hololei, the EC director general for the mobility and transport directorate, in a memo following a July 4 ADS-B workshop.

One of the reasons for the delay is a lack of harmonization among European states surrounding ADS-B ground station deployment as well as lingering questions about equipage plans for older aircraft that will need substantial upgrades. The European Commission has indicated it will consider allowing exemptions to the deadline while requiring airlines to provide compliance plans and expected compliance dates.

“These decisions are instrumental in helping accelerate the existing momentum and I would urge all stakeholders to participate and contribute to the collective effort to bring about this important upgrade of the surveillance chains in the European ATM system,” Hololei wrote in the memo.

Only about 20 percent of European airliners have been equipped for ADS-B so far, leaving thousands more airplanes to receive equipment upgrades in the next two years.

The General Aviation Manufacturers Association released a statement saying it is “pleased the European Commission has confirmed the mandate for ADS-B implementation in Europe by June 2020,” adding “ADS-B is a valuable tool for pilots, improving efficiency of their flights and enhancing safety, as well as ensuring their access to airspace.”

U.S. airlines appear mostly on track to meet the FAA’s January 1, 2020, ADS-B compliance deadline, although not all airplanes will be equipped on time. Exemptions will be permitted as the fleet inches toward full equipage.

In general aviation, the situation is more dire as tens of thousands of airplanes have yet to receive equipment upgrades for ADS-B and avionics shops report their calendars are filling up fast.