It is interesting that ADS-B is not mandated in Canada as of yet. If you fly in the US you quickly realize the benefits. Now as I understand it Nav Canada is the largest shareholder in Iridum but ADS-B in the SDA (Southern Domestic Airspace) is still far off.

Some people may hate the idea of a mandate but I fly in the south and it is crucial to be able to see other traffic. XM is great for WX but expensive. I am curious as to why Nav-can is not hot on the ADS-B trail other than the politics of mandated dollars for Mode-S transponders.

Does anyone know the timing for implementation of the ADS-B satellite system for Canada?

  • 2
    $\begingroup$ What is the SDA? $\endgroup$
    – DeltaLima
    Mar 24, 2019 at 16:20
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @DeltaLima: TLA identified :) $\endgroup$
    – user14897
    Mar 25, 2019 at 7:00

2 Answers 2


This Advisory Circular, although from 2011, is still current and indicates that there will no Transport Canada ADSB mandate (being regulatory, it's not up to Nav Canada). It appears the policy is to foster voluntary adoption of ADSB over time, and Nav Canada will create an environment where aircraft operators will get operational benefits by adopting it.

So the commercial world will likely switch over fairly quickly, while GA operators and private owners will do it gradually as the costs of the systems come down, and anyone who doesn't want to doesn't have to, and can continue using Mode C. I imagine that later on, when the system is mature, say in 5+ years from now, and GA ADSB systems are dirt cheap, TC/Nav Can will likely decide it's time to phase out surveillance radar completely, and then it'll be mandated for anyone that wants to operate in transponder airspace.

  • $\begingroup$ Roughly 90% of Canadians live within 100 miles of the US border, which is trivially crossed in a plane, so it's likely the Canadian fleet will see similar adoption to the US fleet: 100% for turbine and urban piston operators by 2020, with rural pistons slowly following. Canada doesn't really need a mandate of its own until they want to phase radar out entirely. $\endgroup$
    – StephenS
    Feb 22, 2019 at 5:19
  • $\begingroup$ Yes I understand that . ADSB has interestingly been available in the far north in canada for a long time. ( as I read it maybe even long before other areas adopted it ).I find I lose the u.s adsb benefit 30-40 miles north of the Great Lakes. it is helpful but not cheap so I understand the mandating issue. $\endgroup$
    – P Kofman
    Feb 22, 2019 at 12:51
  • $\begingroup$ While it's technically true that TC may no mandate ADS-B, that circular does say, "It is acknowledged that ADS-B technology will supplement the current ground-based radar surveillance system and may eventually replace it to some extent, however, the intent of not mandating the ADS-B system is to allow owners and operators to volunteer their participation in a surveillance system where NAV CANADA will offer ADS-B and to benefit from its advantages." Realistically though, the "benefit" that operators will be see is the ability to enter certain airspace or perhaps be limited in their operations. $\endgroup$
    – chatty
    May 4, 2019 at 0:38

Just to clarify something to start, NAV CANADA is not a majority shareholder in Iridium Communications Inc., but rather Aireon LLC (the provider of space-based ADS-B service). The Aireon payload is a "hosted" on each of Iridium's NEXT satellites.

NAV CANADA has completed its Aeronautical Study for a Canadian ADS-B Out Performance Requirements Mandate and the Aeronautical Study Plan Summary is available publicly. The current plan includes the first two phases of the mandate:

  • Phase 1: Class A airspace (which includes 18,000ft ASL to FL600 in the Sourthern Control Area, FL230 to FL600 in the Northern Control Area, and FL270 to FL600 in the Arctic control area)
  • Phase 2: Class B airspace (All low level controlled airspace above 12,500ft ASL or from the minimum enroute altitude, whichever is higher, to below 18,000ft ASL plus some terminal control areas or control zones)

While not quoted in the study summary, Phase 1 is proposed for implementation January 1, 2021 and Phase 2 on January 1, 2022. Beyond Phase 2, no sooner than January 1, 2023, Class C, D and E airspace as required and following additional stakeholder consultations.

To you comment about "seeing" other traffic, the current infrastructure is not set up to re-transmit traffic information for ADS-B "In" equipped aircraft. Based on the Technical Specification, Aireon only detects up the "Out" transmission from 1090 MHz Mode S transponders but is unable to detect 978 MHz UAT transponders.

So all that to say, unless you're flying above 12,500ft ASL, the ADS-B Mandate will not be affecting you for at least a few years and you will not be seeing ADS-B data coming from the Aireon constellation, only the ADS-B broadcasts from other aircraft directly in the vicinity. There is no ground infrastructure in Canada which broadcasts TIS-B or FIS-B data so you will not see aircraft equipped with Mode C only.


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