Business aviation is an important part of many businesses. Getting leaders to meetings, conferences, and events around the world is vital for growing brand leadership and making deals. However, the convenience of air travel comes with some hurdles and costs.

One such cost is the upcoming requirement for virtually all business aviation planes to equip ADS-B by January 2020. What does ADS-B do, what does it cost, and how it can comply? Read on to learn more.

What is ADS-B and why does it matter?

ADS-B stands for Automatic Dependent Surveillance – Broadcast.1 ADS-B systems automatically transmit information on a plane's position, speed, altitude, and other data to other aircraft and FAA ground stations on a regular basis. Rather than rely on a transponder and radar alone, ADS-B Out transmits the plane's data once every second.

ADS-B In is a system that allows planes to receive and display ADS-B data. This gives pilots information on other nearby planes, weather and advisories, Notices to Airmen, important real-time notifications about temporary no-fly zones and restrictions.

The combination of these features makes ADS-B a big step forward in aviation safety.2 It could prevent everything from planes getting too close together to unknowingly flying into poor weather conditions. Anything that makes planes safer is a good thing, and that's why the FAA created the ADS-B requirements.

The 2020 deadline requires3 all planes flying in airspace that requires a Mode C transponder to equip hardware that transmits ADS-B Out. This is the airspace that surrounds all large airports or any airspace over 18,000 feet, and in many cases airspace over 10,000 feet. Because virtually all business air travel for large companies includes flying to Class B or Class C airports or into Class A airspace, all business aircraft should be equipped with ADS-B Out before the January 2020 deadline.

When asked if ADS-B improves aviation safety, Denver-based Certified Flight Instructor, Jason Steele, says, “absolutely." He continues, “ADS-B offers pilots more time to react to nearby aircraft, and does so without a need for radar." Radar takes 5-7 seconds to update locations for other aircraft, while ADS-B offers updates every second. As a pilot, more information at your fingertips is better and ADS-B delivers.

Supply, Demand, and FAA Mechanics

The cost for parts and installation of an ADS-B system for corporate and individual use jets can reach from five to six figures.4 But what will prices do in the future? This is also a factor of supply and demand. The 2020 deadline means lots of planes will be adding ADS-B over the coming years. Supply and demand could lead to a spike in costs as we approach January 2020. Even with a $500 rebate program from the FAA5, the cost can still be significant.

As the deadline to install ADS-B approaches, more and more pilots and plane owners will be competing for limited parts and mechanics for installations. An ADS-B installation can take more than 24 hours of labor, and must be completed by an FAA certified mechanic. Lots of planes looking for a limited supply of parts to be installed by a limited number of mechanics in a short period of time will potentially lead to higher costs and even competition for time from mechanics to keep planes in the air.

Jeff Dunn, Head of Aviation Asset Management for PNC Aviation Finance, notes that "2020's going to roll around, and there are going to be aircraft not allowed to fly." Plane owners are taking steps to upgrade today and avoid issues. There are "not enough slots and not enough days to service the number of aircraft that need to be serviced" by the deadline.

Act Soon to Avoid Costly and Stressful Upgrades

While many planes are going to squeeze in the repairs at the last minute, getting the upgrade as early as possible could lead to big savings. Getting your ADS-B upgrade today not only helps you avoid the costs of taking care of it later, avoiding procrastinating and adding ADS-B will improve flight safety right away, and that's something anyone can understand and get on board with.

If you are worried about the financial cost of upgrading to ADS-B, PNC Aviation Finance is standing by to help. With PNC's experienced team focused solely on aviation finance and over $4 billion in aircraft loans over the past 5 years, the team of 30+ members can help you stay airborne by installing ADS-B with competitive interest rates and affordable payments for your business.

"We don't want to risk aircraft not flying," according to Dunn. "The more of those we can get upgraded, the better." Some aircraft owners choose to finance the ADS-B upgrade on its own, while others refinance a plane and roll the cost into one loan.

The worst-case scenario is that your business waits too long, tries to get a last-minute upgrade, and can't find a mechanic or the parts to get your upgrade by the deadline. But if you invest in the upgrade today, you will fly safer and can put any worries about January 2020 aside. Or at least refocus your time to worry about your business, not your business planes. Either way, getting your upgrade done and out of the way is a win for your business.

Prepare for January 2020

Act now and prepare yourself and your business for the January 2020 deadline by contacting a PNC Aviation Finance representative at pnc.com/aviation.