FANS 1/A: What the FAA’s 2020 mandates mean for business aviation

As the airspace system becomes increasingly crowded, Air Traffic Control agencies have established new avionics mandates to improve safety and efficiency of private jet travel. FANS 1/A technology—an acronym for Future Air Navigation Systems must be installed in business jets before a January 1, 2020 deadline or owners and operators risk the grounding of aircraft and potential incurrence of hefty fines.

“I’m going to say this as plainly as I can. The ADS-B equipage deadline is not changing. If you plan to fly your plane in most controlled airspace after December 31, 2019— you’re going to need to install ADS-B.”
– Victora Wassmer, FAA Acting Deputy Administrator.


©2019 Gulfstream Aerospace Corporation

FANs 1/A and Business Aviation

Future Air Navigation Systems is not a new technology. Commercial airliners have operated with versions of ADS-C and CPDLC— the two main foundations of FANS 1/A— since the 1990s, but the January 1, 2020 mandate initiative is a significant development for business aviation. The landscape of private jet travel and air traffic control, within the United States and abroad, is changing and will continue to do so due to the new avionics requirements.

Essentially, FANS 1/A was created to provide real-time position updates and enhance communication between pilots and controllers through a common language. CPDLC, the Controller Pilot Data Link Communication, removes the confusion of language and accents by using a text-message based system. ADS-C represents Automatic Dependent Surveillance Contract and serves to create contracts—based on defined flight information— between aircraft and ATC. These contracts can be initiated through a periodic method, based on an event, or through pilot mayday; and are established directly by the controller through the aircraft systems.



Within the January, 1 2020 mandate, the FAA stated that Automatic Data Surveillance Broadcasting, or ADS-B Out, must be installed in all business jet aircraft. The purpose of ADS-B Out is to transmit— independently of manual or pilot input— altitude, airspeed, and location through a GPS system to air traffic control; as well as to jets that are within a predetermined proximity. ADS-B Out offers an additional level of safety and efficiency.

As the deadline for installation of ADS-B Out approaches, avionics shops are already taking reservations with non-refundable deposits due to high demand. As of June 2016, over 10,000 aircraft in the United States have yet to comply with the mandate. Aircraft owners face the prospect of delays, higher costs, unnecessary downtime, and even risk grounding their aircraft if they do not act quickly to schedule an ADS-B Out installation.

In August 2016, Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation Chairman, John Thune, voiced concern that industry-wide, there is a question over, “The availability of ADS-B avionics and repair station time slots.”  Furthermore, it’s important that pilots, mechanics, and jet owners— when considering FANS 1/A and ADS-B Out installation— consult with a trusted avionics professional at a location that is familiar with their make and model business jet.


FANS 1/A Installation

As a leader in private aviation, Clay Lacy Aviation developed a FAA approved Supplemental Type Certificate (STC) for FANS 1/A installation on the Gulfstream GIV, GIV-SP and GV; as well as the Challenger 601-3A, 601-3AER and 601-3R type aircraft. “Our FANS program is designed to provide Gulfstream owners the most cost-effective and convenient solution…to meet current and future worldwide mandates,” says Eddy Diaz, the company’s Avionics Manager.

The FAA STC approval for FANS 1/A+, CPDLC, ADS-C, and ADS-B; including a provisioning for Link2000+ solution, essential for European air travel, is handled at Clay Lacy Aviation’s Los Angeles location. Aircraft owners may also go to any Universal Aviation Authorized Dealer. The necessary upgrades in avionics equipment will vary based on aircraft model, current avionics, and present aircraft systems; as well as intended destinations and a variety of other factors.


Avionics Outlook

To say that FANS 1/A is a clear concept is misguided. The acronyms alone can confuse and overwhelm even those most liberally versed in aviation and aircraft avionics. By utilizing the knowledge, resources, and expertise of a trusted FAA approved avionics and maintenance repair station, the installation process on your aircraft will prove to be streamlined and expeditious.

Take advantage of regularly scheduled maintenance checks and inspections, to comply with these new avionics mandates, so as not to interrupt future travel schedules or face the prospect of grounding of the aircraft.

If you own or operate a Gulfstream GIV, GIV-SP, GV, or Challenger, consult with a Clay Lacy avionics expert regarding necessary upgrades.