What is ADS-B & the SkyEcho 2

In this short article we'll look at what Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast (ADS-B)  is, its benefits, limitations, and specifically how it can be used with OzRunways EFB to improve your situational awareness. 

What is ADS-B:

ADS-B is a broadcast surveillance system which differs from traditional transponders in that they will send out continuous signals (at least once per second) into the air around them, without needing to be interrogated by another unit first. These signals are rich with information including the aircraft's: identity (callsign), precise GPS location, altitude, and velocity. 

How it works: 

An aircraft transmits an ADS-B signal OUT into the air:
Another aircraft or Air Traffic Control ground station receives this signal IN:

This signal is then decoded and displayed as traffic on their screens (EFB, ATC station, or Avionics):

The Benefits of ADS-B: 

For us pilots the benefits are simple:
1. ADS-B signals work completely independently of the cellular network, so you don't need to rely on this network for your traffic information. 
Relying on an external feed of ADS-B traffic (i.e. not having your own ADS-B IN Receiver) means you are still relying on the cellular network to pass this traffic information onto you. 

2. ADS-B is a generic system compatible across EFB apps and aircraft avionics, so you will see aircraft running any system or even still flying around with paper charts!

The Limitations of ADS-B:

As great as it is, no system is perfect. ADS-B signals are line of sight, so caution should be used in mountainous areas as signals can be blocked by terrain. 
This should be kept in mind especially if relying on an external source of ADS-B traffic and not your own ADS-B IN Receiver. Do you know where the ground receiver for that source is? Where the potential black spots are?

Types of ADS-B Equipment:

ADS-B equipment falls into 2 main categories, portable and installed. Portable meaning you can easily take the equipment from one aircraft to another, where as installed equipment remains with one aircraft all the time (typically a transponder or avionics screen). 

Whether you go down the portable or installed route depends on: 
1. The type of flying you do (VFR or IFR; certain airspace requirements)
2. Budget
3. Any existing aircraft equipment (for example, upgrading an already ADS-B capable transponder)

You can also mix between portable and installed equipment. For example, the owner of an aircraft with an ADS-B OUT installed transponder may opt to purchase a portable ADS-B IN Receiver. This may be due to requiring installed ADS-B OUT equipment for operating IFR, but not having avionics screens capable of presenting ADS-B IN traffic. So instead they have purchased a portable ADS-B IN Receiver which sends traffic to their EFB app. 

Remember: ADS-B OUT means others can see you, and ADS-B IN means you can see others. But if you only have IN or OUT, someone is missing part of the traffic picture! 

SkyEcho ADS-B IN & OUT:

In Australia, all IFR aircraft and some VFR aircraft (airspace dependant) are required to be ADS-B OUT equipped. However many VFR pilots have recognised the benefits of ADS-B and have already brought this technology into their cockpits even if not legally required. Previously this was expensive as installed ADS-B OUT equipment requires a TSO approved GPS. Since July 2021 however, CASA have approved a new class of portable ADS-B OUT transmitters called Electronic Conspicuity (EC) devices. These devices do not replace a transponder if operationally required, but do allow a low cost solution for those who have no legal requirement to be ADS-B OUT equipped but wish to increase their visibility and situational awareness. 

The first of these devices and at the time of writing only device to achieve CASA EC approval is the SkyEcho 2. 

Boasting both ADS-B IN & OUT capability, this neat little device has up to 12 hours battery life so does not require power from your aircraft. It has its own GPS for position information built into the device, making it portable. If you own or fly multiple aircraft, the one SkyEcho device can come with you between cockpits. See and be seen by aircraft within ~40NM of your location inflight. 

Government Grants: 

The SkyEcho 2 is eligible for the government rebates in both Australia and New Zealand. Please follow these links to confirm your own eligibility. 

Further Information: 

To view further information or purchase a SkyEcho (AU only) please follow this link to our store: 
Or contact our friendly support team with any questions: support@OzRunways.com

There's also a lot of information that goes into deeper detail about Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast (ADS-B) available from the authorities, for example here are some links to CASA's and Airservices' Australia documents: