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ADS-B on Non-Electric Aircraft? We Answer Your Top Questions

Source: FAA Safety Briefing, September/October 2021
By: Jim Kenney, Paul VonHoene, and Matt Kasking

The FAA frequently receives questions from pilots and aircraft owners who are curious about ADS-B Out installs on non-electric aircraft, including balloons, gliders, and ultralights. Here are your top questions and answers.

1. My aircraft has a battery to power the radio and transponder. Is that considered an electrical system? No.

The requirement to install ADS-B Out applies to aircraft certified with an engine-driven electrical system, or one that has it subsequently installed. Simply having batteries or an electric starter would not mean that your aircraft has an electrical system; therefore, it is not required to have ADS-B Out. For example, if you have a generator or alternator attached to the engine to charge a battery, then you have an engine-driven electrical system. If you just have a battery or an electric starter, then you don’t.

But what if my aircraft is subsequently installed with a battery? The answer here is also No. See AC 90-114B, Section 3.2.

2. My aircraft has a battery which means I am not required to equip with ADS-B Out, so does that mean I can fly in any airspace I want? No.

You must remain (1) Outside any Class B or Class C airspace area; and (2) Below the altitude of the ceiling of a Class B or Class C airspace area designated for an airport, or 10,000 feet mean sea level (MSL), whichever is lower. See “Do I Need to Equip” at, and 14 CFR 91.225 at for more.

3. Can I install a battery-powered ADS-B Out system? Yes.

You can install a compliant, battery-powered ADS-B system, but it must be permanently installed. Portable ADS-B Out equipment (also known as “suitcase” units), including system components and antennas, do not comply. See AC 90-114B, Section 4.3.2 for more.

4. What if I have an experimental airworthiness certificate, do I have to install ADS-B Out? No.

The requirement to have ADS-B Out does not depend on the airworthiness certificate, but it does determine whether or not it needs to be certified. Aircraft with a type certificate require certified ADS-B equipment. Experimental aircraft may use non-certified ADS-B equipment. You can install equipment per manufacturer instructions.

5. What are the configuration requirements for the ADS-B Out system, and how do I know it’s working?

Your avionics shop and manufacturer can help and advise you on available options and costs associated with any required upgrades. The best way to check your ADS-B is to run a Public ADS-B Performance Report (PAPR) report. It’s online, free, with results in 15 minutes:

6. I am not required to equip with ADS-B Out, but are there any benefits to installing a system anyway? Yes.

See and “B” Seen. ADS-B Out allows other aircraft who have ADS-B In, including those with collision avoidance systems, to see and avoid you, significantly reducing the risk of mid-air collisions. Your chances of a successful search and rescue mission also increases. You are also visible to UAS (drones) operating above 400 feet above ground level.

Situational Awareness. Equipping with both ADS-B Out and ADS-B In gives you traffic information (TIS-B), and flight information (FIS-B), and with 978MHz you get subscription free weather and text-based advisories such as NOTAMs and TFRs. ADS-B In is not required.

Jim Kenney and Paul VonHoene are aviation safety inspectors in the FAA’s Flight Standards Flight Operations Branch. Matt Haskin is an aerospace engineer in Aircraft Information Systems at the FAA.

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