ADS-B IN - need for study and training in the cockpit

2 Replies

ADS-B IN - need for study and training in the cockpit

Posted by Tom Murrell on Nov 23, 2018 8:22 pm

I'd like to suggest that the AOPA Air Safety Institute look into potential safety and training issues relating to ADS-B IN in the cockpit. I have experienced and recently have heard from others at how easy it is to become fixated on displayed traffic that seem to pose a threat or near threat. Recently I was in very hectic airspace under the control of ATC. I had an assigned altitude and cleared through the bravo. According to my ADS-B in display I had no fewer than 5 or 6 airplanes in my immediate proximity and altitude all showing either a yellow or red threat level. I became preoccupied at looking at my screen and looking outside for the traffic which I never actually saw until I get an abrupt call from the controller to "verify altitude". Sure enough I had climbed a couple hundred feet. This was enough to get my focus where it should be on flying the airplane and at that time I wished I had never turned the thing on. As I think back, this wasn't the first time I had been distracted by the ADS-B IN display showing threats or near threats. I did a bit of research, reaching out on social media to other pilots and I come to find out my experience wasn't unique and that many other pilots have had similar experiences at one time or another. One pilot told me he once turned back because the airspace he was flying into appeared so congested on the display that he wasn't willing to risk it and yet he had flown in that same space before at the same time of day without the ADS-B IN without any known issues. ADS-B IN is a wonderful tool, but no one or group, to my knowledge, has ever really offered suggestions or guidance on what do you do when you see a threat or threats on the ADS-B IN display, what you do and how you stay focused on flying the plane in the face of all this traffic. The EAA has the right idea at AirVenture when they tell you to shut off the transponder and keep your head outside the airplane. Watching traffic on ADS-B IN is compelling and helpful but the question is: How do you keep it from being a distraction and what is the proper response when you do encounter a potential threat on the screen? I'd like to have someone study the issue to see how big a problem it is and take a crack at providing answers to those questions.
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Re: ADS-B IN - need for study and training in the cockpit

Posted by Ronald Levy on Nov 24, 2018 4:43 pm

Tom Murrell:
I'd like to suggest that the AOPA Air Safety Institute look into potential safety and training issues relating to ADS-B IN in the cockpit.

This is already a special interest item in the ACS, and the FAA has a lot of guidance out there on avoiding inappropriate distraction from essential cockpit duties by the various electronic devices we now have in the cockpit.

The EAA has the right idea at AirVenture when they tell you to shut off the transponder and keep your head outside the airplane.

If that's what the EAA actually said (and I really doubt they did), they had a very wrong idea.  Making yourself less visible to other pilots and ATC is not the answer.  The answer is getting trained on how to use these devices effectively, especially to use them as a cue for where to look outside, rather than staring at the screen in the cockpit.

Watching traffic on ADS-B IN is compelling and helpful but the question is: How do you keep it from being a distraction

Training and discipline.  Learning how to tell which targets really are threats, and then using the device to tell you where to look outside for them.

and what is the proper response when you do encounter a potential threat on the screen?

First, determine if it really is a threat.  Then, look outside where the device says the threat is.

Re: ADS-B IN - need for study and training in the cockpit

Posted by Robert Kelly on Nov 26, 2018 8:31 am

I use it as one of my tools and yes you can get hooked in on the screen.  I have in and out, but where I fly probably 10-20% of the airplanes are equipped with out, and a lot don't even have a transponder.  If you are VFR you need to keep your eyes outside.