Nov 15, 2005
Most of us who own aircraft enjoy selecting the equipment for a new airplane or, with used aircraft, working from a "dream list" of what we would like to install when our finances allow. A great financial fear for owners is the constant stream of airworthiness directives (ADs) that can be imposed on new or old aircraft.

But it's been more than two decades since owners of light general aviation aircraft have experienced the government mandating a specific piece of equipment to allow continued operation in the nation's airspace. Credit your association for looking out for owner interests and thoroughly researching the validity of all ADs, challenging those that can only be attributed to unique operations of the aircraft and ensuring that those that do involve the safety of flight over the model or fleet are well researched and necessary. AOPA has worked diligently to avert proposals for new communications radios; delayed the mandate to replace the 121.5-MHz emergency locator transmitter in all our airplanes; avoided a requirement for Mode S transponders; and helped stop many more expensive proposals.

I remember the last true mandate for equipage, in the 1980s. Congress mandated the Mode C transponder for access to certain classes of airspace after a tragic midair in the Los Angeles area. Without mandates, however, in the past 15 to 20 years GA pilots have voluntarily moved into the twenty-first century. Many of us have added capability to our airplanes with GPS, either panel mount or handheld; lightning-detection devices; and, most recently, weather datalink.

A mandate for equipage is on the horizon — and the potential benefits are tangible — with a technology called ADS-B (automatic dependent surveillance-broadcast). You've read that phrase in many of my past columns, since AOPA has been at the forefront of this technology for a full decade (see "ADS-B: The Future Is Now," November 2005 Pilot). ADS-B has been tested and refined in Alaska, in the "Capstone Program."

AOPA Article