In the aircraft we have:

  • ADS-B out/in using 1090ES
  • A/C or Mode S transponder for SSR grounding interrogation.

Does the ADS-B out use the same antenna as Mode S or does it use its own antenna?


1 Answer 1


Where a Mode S transponder is used, ADS-B will use the same antenna.

For example, in an airliner with TCAS II, i.e. already capable of Mode S, ADS-B will use the Mode S antennas (not to be confused with the TCAS antennas).

To benefit from Satellite ADS-B, at least one antenna needs to be top-mounted and capable of 125 watts (most airliners already support 200 W).

What I find interesting and illuminating for such questions is Mode S'es history—which goes back to the late-60s—and its relation to Mode A/C and ADS-B:

  • Chang, Emily, et al. "The story of Mode S." (2000) PDF; mit.edu

In that history you'll find two important Mode S features that should reveal not just why, but how, ADS-B uses the same frequency:

First was AOPA's argument to the FAA for Mode S to be 1) backward compatible, but then a "fundamental flaw" was revealed in the FAA specifications (see p. 23), which led to an ingenious engineering solution. That workaround also allowed Mode S to be 2) invisible to the Mode A/C SSR radars (ATCRBS).

In other words, when ATCRBS interrogates Mode S, Mode S replies to it. And, Mode S ground sensors can interrogate Mode A/C (backward compatible).
But, when Mode S sends a Mode S message (to Mode S sensor or TCAS or ADS-B), ATCRBS ignores the message without processing it (invisible). Those features essentially paved the way for ADS-B to be on the same frequency as the ingenious Mode S, which had to be on the same frequency as Mode A/C.

  • $\begingroup$ Thank you so much @ymb1 your response it's very satisfying and hopefully $\endgroup$ May 16 at 0:24
  • $\begingroup$ @OussamaSDR: You're very welcome. I added a couple of paragraphs, since after searching here, I could not find the why and how of those features explained before. $\endgroup$
    – user14897
    May 16 at 3:58
  • $\begingroup$ @ymb1 thank you very much, can you send me your contact info please. $\endgroup$ May 28 at 23:19

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