How can failure to install ADS-B Out NOT merit a severe sanction?

ADS-B and compliance
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ADS-B Out critical equipment for NextGen ATC safety

Final Rule issued a Decade ago and with massive publicity

Intentional Violations outside of Compliance

The FAA has assessed a $422,500 civil penalty against an air carrier for operating B-747s for 56 flights in violation of an important aviation safety mandate. While that is a formidable fine, does it meet the FAA Compliance Policy for intentional acts?

ADS-B in and out is a critical element for air traffic in the Nextgen airspace


ADS-B is an environmentally friendly technology that enhances safety and efficiency, and directly benefits pilots, controllers, airports, airlines, and the public. It forms the foundation for NextGen by moving from ground radar and navigational aids to precise tracking using satellite signals.

With ADS-B, pilots can see what controllers see: displays showing other aircraft in the sky. Cockpit displays also pinpoint hazardous weather and terrain, and give pilots important flight information, such as temporary flight restrictions.

The improved accuracy, integrity and reliability of satellite signals over radar means controllers will be able to safely reduce the minimum separation distance between aircraft and increase capacity in the nation’s skies.

The rules mandating the installation were promulgated, after a long NPRM process, in 2010 ([Doc. No. FAA-2007-29305, 75 FR 30194, May 28, 2010; Amdt. 91-314-A, 75 FR 37712, June 30, 2010; Amdt. 91-316, 75 FR 37712, June 30, 2010]). The publicity surrounding this much debated equipment requirement was massive—not just the trade press, but the mainstream media covered this subject. Multiple FAA press releases and briefings reminded, if not warned, all aircraft of their MANDATE to install the ADS-B in and out equipment by JANUARY 1, 2020.

FAA ads-b infographic






Sky Lease I, Inc.must have been aware of the requirements of 14 CFR §91. 225-227 and yet it flew “dozens” of flights (i.e. 56). The FAA Civil Penalty Press release does not hint why this derogation of a clear FAR did not merit Revocation, Suspension or even an extensive remedial upgrading of its safety regulations systems under the COMPLIANCE AND ENFORCEMENT.

Huerta and Gilligan on Compliance



Section 1  Flight Standards Service Compliance Philosophy.

14-1-1-8    ENFORCEMENT ACTION. Order 2150.3, chapter 5, paragraph 1 requires that “[n]oncompliances by regulated persons unwilling or unable to comply or not cooperative in corrective actions must be addressed with enforcement action. Paragraph 5 further identifies where FAA personnel are required, or may have the discretion, to take enforcement action as discussed below. Order 2150.3, chapter 5, paragraph 4 also provides the criteria for taking administrative action.

  1. Required Legal Enforcement Action.The FAA views intentional, reckless, and some other types of conduct (as described in Order 2150.3, chapter 5, paragraph 5.a.(1)-(5)) as posing the highest risk to safe operation of the NAS, thus requiring strong enforcement. These matters are referred to the Office of the Chief Counsel (AGC)-300 for legal enforcement action14:

1)    Intentional Conduct: A deliberate act (or failure to act) while knowing that such conduct is contrary to a regulation or statute, or is otherwise prohibited;

2)    Reckless Conduct: An act (or failure to act) demonstrating a gross disregard for or deliberate indifference to safety or a safety standard (see Volume 14, Chapter 3, Section 5);

3)    Failure to complete corrective action on terms satisfactory to the FAA;

Skylease B-747uipment Violations

For Immediate Release

January 8, 2021

WASHINGTON — The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Aviation Administration proposes a $422,500 civil penalty against Sky Lease I, Inc., of Miami, Fla., for allegedly operating two Boeing 747 airplanes on dozens of flights without required avionics equipment.

Skylease headquarters

Between June 21, 2020 and July 12, 2020, the company operated the aircraft on 56 flights when they lacked the required version of Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast (ADS-B) Out, the FAA alleges. ADS-B Out broadcasts an aircraft’s position, velocity and other information.

The FAA required aircraft flying in certain controlled U.S. airspace to have this equipment by Jan. 1, 2020. The agency alleges the aircraft entered airspace around Los Angeles, Miami, Chicago and Anchorage without the required equipment.

The flights in question occurred within the U.S. and to and from countries including Bolivia, China, Canada, Colombia and Peru.

Sky Lease I has 30 days after receiving the FAA’s enforcement letter to respond to the agency.

FAA compliance infograph


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