I don't know how many folks on the forum fall as short on perceptiveness ...
...Somewhere on line, someone opened my eyes about ADS-B. Maybe this will help someone like it helped me. I'm presenting this as I understand it so I may be mixed up. Please correct me if you think I am wrong.
The central thesis of ADS-B is "FAA Is Quickly ELIMINATING Antiquated, Inadequate Aircraft Tracking System."
The secondary sub-title would be "A highly efficient, feature-rich, nationwide satellite network is quickly replacing RADAR and
will provide ATC and pilots very accurate, position and altitude information on every participating aircraft in the air."
As of JAN 1, 2020 every aircraft that flies in America will be **REQUIRED to have equipment that will transmit their precise location
and altitude...OUT...to that network, without using RADAR.
** Well, if you fly in airspace that has not required a transponder at all, you won't have to play along. If there has never been reliable RADAR coverage, the FAA categorized that as "UNCONTROLLED" airspace. Most airspace below 700' AGL has been uncontrolled (Class G) for a lonnnng time. If your Sectional Chart has had a "bluish" color all over for eons, RADAR could see you down to 1200' AGL. there. Around most airports, there's a magenta area that has a "fuzzy" side toward the airport. Within that area, RADAR can reach downward to 700' AGL. In a limited few areas, RADAR can see you all the way to the surface and this is called "Surface Area Class E." Having reliable RADAR is what has historically made airspace "controlled" and has made a 4096 Transponder mandatory. Mode C Altitude capability was made mandatory around 1986 or 87 if you wanted to enter Class B or C.
If your Sectional Chart hasn't had that bluish tint and instead has had a yellowish-tan color, the FAA could not see you on RADAR at all because they did't have it there. All that airspace, all the way up to FL180 was uncontrolled and the only way the FAA knew where you were, is if you told them and/or gave them information over the COMM about where you are, where you are headed, and how long you expect it to take you to get there.
If you are flying IFR in uncontrolled airspace, ALL fixes and waypoints are Compulsory Reporting Points and you MUST tell them when you get there. You could literally be in the clouds with many other aircraft and no one would know exactly where EXCEPT YOU and the people who hear you say your location over the radio airwaves.
Now, after ADS-B OUT becomes mandatory in 2020, your PRECISE LOCATION AND ALTITUDE will be known on the network no matter how low you are, because satellite network receivers are not limited by mountains or terrain like ground-based RADAR was. Line of sight no longer limits ATC. ADS-B equipment (A Transponder, A WAAS Capable GPS, and a passive Network Transmitter) will send your precise information to the network satellites every fraction of a second so the network has very accurate data on every aircraft playing along.
Only legal aircraft getting around in UNCONTROLLED AIRSPACE, legal ULTRALIGHTS, and ILLEGAL AIRCRAFT will not show up on the network in their precise location and altitude. THIS CONSTITUTES ADS-B OUT.
Now...Just imagine all the useful stuff on the internet that would be extremely useful to pilots if instantly available in real-time. THESE THINGS CONSTITUTE ADS-B IN. If the FAA allows the information to be on the ADS-B satellite network, pilots can access it in their cockpit while airborne. They just need the equipment with those capabilities. ADS-B In IS NOT MANDATORY on JAN 1, 2020, ADS-B OUT is.
This is a fast transition to ABSOLUTE FREE-FLIGHT that is taking place. Soon, all airways will be eliminated. All VOR/VORTAC/TACAN's will go bye-bye. No more ILS's ... No NDB's... No Outer/Middle/Inner Markers! Just imagine, every aircraft will have a "windows-in-the-sky" (a-la Microsoft FlightSim, thanks Bruce Artwick) display that presents them a curving path into and out of airports without procedure turns or airport traffic patterns. Separation distances can be decreased a LOT! Capacity of the airspace will increase tremendously. Mid-air collisions will almost be non-existent. Every pilot will know accurately, where each aircraft near them is. Avoiding each other will be easy. Eventually the two pilots will automatically be able to talk or "voice synthesized chat" directly to each other over the network, without anyone else hearing.
IT IS TRULY AMAZING what ADS-B will lead to, how much money it will save on NAVAID and RADAR maintenance, and how much safer flying will be.
Sport Pilot CFI
Commercial Rotorcraft Helicopter
Manufacturing Engineer II, Meggitt Airframe Systems, Fuel Systems & Composites Group