At the committee hearing focused on the benefits
available to general aviation through the FAAs
NextGen air traffic modernization program,
Huerta encouraged GA pilots to equip before the
Jan. 1, 2020 mandate, the date by which all
aircraft flying in controlled airspace in the
U.S. must be equipped with ADS-B avionics.
Huerta explained that many GA pilots are already
equipping their aircraft to take advantage of
the safety and efficiency benefits.
In addition, the FAA continues to roll out the
capability to provide air traffic controllers
with real-time ADS-B position information that
is more accurate than the information available
with current radar-based systems.
The GA community in Alaska was the first place
the FAA unveiled ADS-B more than 10 years ago.
That community was selected because GA aircraft
play critical roles as ambulances, school buses,
ferrying supplies, etc. in serving remote,
mountainous communities that lack radar coverage
and are often only accessible by air. The
benefits delivered from the significantly
improved situational awareness for pilots,
especially in bad weather, were dramatic: the
accident rate for ADS-B-equipped aircraft was
reduced by nearly half in Southwest Alaska.
ADS-B is not the only GPS-based, NextGen
technology available to GA pilots. For more than
a decade, the FAA has been publishing Wide Area
Augmentation System (WAAS) approach procedures
at airports that do not have ground-based
navigational aids. This means GA pilots may fly
into airports in poor weather conditions with
minimums as low as 200 feet a significant safety
and efficiency benefit, particularly for medical
aircraft or those low on fuel.