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C4iSR: Air

Update: US Air Force to miss FAA deadline for C-17 traffic tracking upgrades

14 November 2018

Key Points

  • The USAF expects to miss a 1 January 2020 deadline for upgrading C-17 aircraft with traffic tracking upgrades
  • All US aircraft - including commercial, military, and corporate - are required to have ADS-B Out capabilities by the start of 2020

The US Air Force (USAF) expects to miss a deadline for upgrading its Boeing C-17 Globemaster III strategic airlifters to Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast (ADS-B) Out capability.The USAF will miss a deadline to have all of its C-17s upgraded to ADS-B Out capability by 1 January 2020. All operationally available USAF C-17 aircraft will be upgraded to ADS-B Out capability by 1 January 2020, but not the entire fleet as some will be in depot. (US Air National Guard)The USAF will miss a deadline to have all of its C-17s upgraded to ADS-B Out capability by 1 January 2020. All operationally available USAF C-17 aircraft will be upgraded to ADS-B Out capability by 1 January 2020, but not the entire fleet as some will be in depot. (US Air National Guard)

Scott McMullen, deputy director of plans, programmes, and requirements at Headquarters Air Mobility Command (AMC), told Jane's on 2 November that all operationally available C-17s, but not the entire fleet, will have their ADS-B Out upgrades completed by 1 January 2020, as many aircraft will be in depot. McMullen said the rest of the C-17 fleet will have its ADS-B upgrades finished by April 2020. There are 222 C-17s in the AMC and Pacific Air Forces (PACAF) fleet, plus an additional aircraft that is currently part of the NATO Heavy Airlift Wing in Hungary.

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) set 1 January 2020 as the deadline for ADS-B Out upgrades because all US aircraft, including military, flying in Class A airspace must have ADS-B Out upgrades by the beginning of 2020. ADS-B Out is part of the FAA's Next Generation Air Transportation System (NextGen) initiative.

McMullen said there will be no consequence for the USAF missing the ADS-B Out deadline. He added that there will be no operational impact by missing the deadline and that 97.3% of mobility aircraft will be ADS-B Out-compliant by 1 January 2020.

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