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Equipping without Tripping

Resources to Guide You on ADS-B Selection

Source: FAA Safety Briefing Jan/Feb 2019
By: Susan Parson

So many roads. So many detours. So many choices. So many mistakes.

Sarah Jessica Parker

Actress Sarah Jessica Parker might have been thinking about her famous TV character’s passion for shoes, but the quip goes to a more serious point. In his 2004 book called The Paradox of Choice, psychologist Barry Schwartz addressed the idea that the overwhelming abundance of choices in a culture that prizes perfection can lead to “analysis paralysis” and stress. As the book summary notes, “choice overload can make you question the decisions you make before you even make them, it can set you up for unrealistically high expectations, and it can make you blame yourself for any and all failures.” Fortunately, Schwartz goes on to offer eleven practical steps on how to limit choices to a more manageable — and less stressful — number.

Schwartz’s book is now on my personal reading list, and you might also find it helpful. But if the ADS-B equipage decision has you in the throes of analysis paralysis, perusing a few of the FAA website’s pages on this topic could be helpful to your needs.

The landing page on the FAA website’s ADS-B portal illustrates the scope of the FAA’s ever-increasing trove of useful information on equipping to meet the requirements of the ADS-B Out mandate. One of the first links you’ll find is a decision flow chart to help you determine whether you need to equip. The next link goes to an overview of the rule itself. The third will be of particular help to those working through the large set of choices, because it allows you to view a list of FAA-certified equipment for ADS-B, as well as to search the FAA’s database for ADS-B compliant equipment. This database also gives you the option of searching for equipment specific to the make and model of your aircraft.

Using these free resources will help you narrow the set of choices to a more manageable number. If your situation is akin to that of my Cessna 182 flying club, budgetary considerations will further narrow the list. Beyond that, you might find it helpful to make a list of the characteristics or features that you really do or don’t want, an exercise that will winnow the list still more. It might be a pretty easy decision after that. If, however, you find yourself dithering over the last two or three possibilities, just remember that the likelihood of a “perfect” selection is probably similar to the likelihood of the “perfect” flight we all hope someday to achieve. As long as your choice meets the requirement of the mandate and checks the boxes you consider most important, you can call it good, get it done, and enjoy the benefits of this technology.

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Susan Parson is editor of FAA Safety Briefing. She is an active general aviation pilot and flight instructor.

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