ADS-B rebate program opens for general and recreational aircraft owners

Helicopter flight path

The Australian Government has launched a new $30 million Automatic Dependent Surveillance Broadcast (ADS-B) rebate program to support more general and recreational visual flight rules (VFR) aircraft owners to install the technology into their aircraft.

ADS-B transmits GPS-derived position data, aircraft identification and other aircraft performance parameters, which can provide pilots near real-time locational data to enhance their situational awareness of other ADS-B equipped aircraft near-by. This can aid self-separation from other aircraft, particularly in non-controlled airspace, helping to reduce the risk of collisions.

In Australia, all aircraft operating under instrument flight rules (IFR) are required to be fitted with ADS-B, with its fitment to aircraft operating under VFR voluntary.

To increase the uptake of ADS-B in VFR aircraft, the government is now providing a 50% rebate of the purchase cost of eligible ADS-B devices and, where applicable, the installation, capped to $5,000. Low-cost portable ADS-B devices will also be eligible for the grant.

“Ensuring the safety of our pilots, other aviation workers, passengers and those on the ground is of the utmost importance each and every time a plane takes off, which is why the funding of this technology will make a huge positive impact,” Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Local Government Minister Catherine King said in announcing the scheme.

The rebate program, which opened on 12 August 2022, directly responds to calls from industry to encourage the uptake of ADS-B technology to realise its many benefits.

“The ‘see and avoid’ principle has known limitations, and the use of ADS-B with a cockpit display or an electronic flight bag application showing traffic information greatly improves a pilot’s situational awareness and enhances the safety of their flight,” Australian Transport Safety Bureau Chief Commissioner Angus Mitchell said.

“ATSB transport safety investigators can also use ADS-B data to help build a detailed picture and better understanding of an aircraft’s flight path* and performance in the lead up to an incident or accident, which can lead to better safety outcomes for the aviation community.”

The precise positional data available from ADS-B can also assist in managing life-saving search and rescue (SAR) operations undertaken by the Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA).

“ADS-B data is another valuable tool used for SAR operations in Australia which helps to improve our ability to save lives,” AMSA’s Chief Executive Officer Mick Kinley said.

“For aircraft in distress, that are equipped with ADS-B, AMSA’s Joint Rescue Coordination Centre Australia will use the aircraft’s ADS-B data to refine a distress location and provide enhanced traffic conflict data in a search area that may involve multiple SAR aircraft.”

The ADS-B rebate program will be open until 31 May 2023 or until funding is exhausted, whichever occurs first.

For more information, including on how to apply, visit https://business.gov.au/grants-and-programs/automatic-dependent-surveillance-broadcast-rebate-program.

* The above Google Earth image was generated by ATSB transport safety investigators using ADS-B data to show the flight path of Bell UH-1H helicopter, registered VH-UVC, which lost of control and collided with water 5 km south-west of Anna Bay, New South Wales, on 6 September 2019 (AO-2019-050).

Last update 23 August 2022