Aircraft operators in Australia have two years to equip aircraft for satellite-based surveillance if they want to operate in upper airspace. Significant numbers of operators have yet to upgrade the necessary avionics.

The deadline for automatic dependent surveillance-broadcast (ADS-B) equipage in aircraft operating above Flight Level 290 is Dec. 12, 2013. Australia is considered one of the world leaders in ADS-B and will be one of the first to impose a mandate for ADS-B equipage in certain airspace. While there is general industry approval of the upper airspace mandate, efforts to require ADS-B in lower airspace have met more opposition and are still being discussed.

The FL290 requirement, imposed by the Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA), is for ADS-B Out, which enables controllers to monitor all aircraft in en route airspace even outside radar coverage.

Air traffic manager Airservices Australia is warning operators to install ADS-B in their fleets well before the deadline, as equipment installation can take time. Airservices says more than 70% of international flights in Australian airspace are using ADS-B. However, “a small number of airlines and business jet operators appear to have not yet made the move to have ADS-B installed,” says Airservices ADS-B Project Manager Greg Dunstone. He says CASA is not expected to grant any exemptions to the mandate.

Non-equipped aircraft will be restricted to flying below FL290, which means they will be subject to procedural separation in non-radar airspace. More about Airservices’ ADS-B program can be found at http://www.airservicesaustralia.com/%20projects/ads-b/Airservices.