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Automatic Dependent Surveillance – Broadcast (ADS-B) is the backbone of the next generation ATC system, and is the most rapidly-evolving portion of the avionics industry.
All ADS-B users transmit their location via ADS-B "Out", increasing safety by reducing traffic conflicts. ADS-B "In" Receivers offer their users access subscription-free Traffic and Weather.
The most basic capability is called ADS-B "Out". This allows ADS-B-equipped aircraft transmit their position and velocity vector every second. As a result, ATC has a much better understanding of their position and movement relative to other air traffic, particularly in areas with marginal radar coverage (due to distance, terrain, etc.) When people talk about the 2020 ADS-B mandate, they are typically discussing ADS-B "Out". The ADS-B system works best when all the aircraft in a given airspace broadcast their position.
There are two types of ADS-B "Out" Transmitters:
- 978 MHz Universal Access Transceiver (978 UAT) Transmitters are allowed up to 18,000 feet altitude. These tend to be the less expensive solutions.
- 1090 MHz Extended Squitter (1090ES) Transmitters are permitted at any altitude and required above 18,000 feet. They are also required for operation in Class A airspace. These avionics tend to be both more capable and more expensive.
The optional portion of ADS-B is called ADS-B "In". Instead of just an ADS-B Transmitter, the aircraft will have an ADS-B Transceiver (or Transmitter and Receiver). This will allow the aircraft to receive Traffic and Weather information from ADS-B.
The Traffic information is called Traffic Information Services – Broadcast (TIS-B), and it shows you the traffic ATC sees. This is a combination of all available position information, including radar and ADS-B.
The Weather information is called Flight Information Services – Broadcast (FIS-B), and it actually includes more than just weather. FIS-B broadcasts a range of aeronautical information products from the FAA and weather products from the National Weather Service, including:
- National NEXRAD - Continental United States Next Generation Radar
- Regional NEXRAD - Regional Next Generation Radar
- Graphical AIRMET - A user-friendly AIRMET
- Winds & Temperature Aloft
- Cloud Tops
- Center Weather Advisory
- PIREP - Pilot Reports
- SUA Status - Special Use Airspace status
- AIRMET - Airmen's Meteorological Information
- Convective SIGMET - Convective Significant Meteorological Information
- SIGMET - Significant Meteorological Information
- METAR - Aviation routine weather report
- SPECI - A Special METAR for fast-changing conditions
- D-NOTAM - Distant Notice To Airmen
- FDC-NOTAM - Flight Data Center Notice To Airmen
- TAF - Terminal Aeronautical Forecast
- AMEND - An amended TAF, for chaning conditions