ADS-B traffic pilot report

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Editor’s note: This is another guest post from Doug Ranly, an active pilot and Catalog Manager at Sporty’s Pilot Shop. He shares a recent flight with his iPad.

A recent trip from Florida in a Piper Aztec provided an excellent opportunity to test out the new Garmin GDL 39 ADS-B receiver. Hooked up via Bluetooth to an iPad equipped with the Garmin Pilot App, I set off to see how much traffic we would see on the screen vs. out the window.

ADS-B traffic on iPad

Leaving Space Coast Airport (KTIX) and heading north, traffic targets were plentiful. Flying over Daytona, you could see every Embry-Riddle plane, both on the ground and in the air. Switching over to the traffic page from the map page, we were able to get more information about the targets we were seeing. Aside from all the N-numbers ending in “ER,” most traffic was FL340 and above.

Traffic page

ATC called us up to report a traffic target passing by on the right. We could see them clear as day out the window, but the ADS-B traffic system didn’t. On two other occasions on our trip, ATC called out traffic that wasn’t picked up on ADS-B.

This is really to be expected, as our aircraft wasn’t equipped with ADS-B Out (and neither are most GA aircraft). We were just mooching off Embry-Riddle aircraft that were. They were all equipped with it as part of a study done by the FAA. Shelling out a lot of money for an ADS-B compliant transponder isn’t on many pilots’ lists yet.

ADS-B traffic will be amazing, when every plane is fully equipped. Until then, I might keep the mosquitoes turned off the screen. They were more annoying than helpful.