Automatic dependent surveillance-broadcast (ADS-B) is a new type of airplane tracking technology that improves air safety for both both pilots and air traffic controllers. ADS-B is part of the FAA's Next Generation Air Transportation System (NextGen). While ADS-B is currently optional for some recreational and commercial aircraft, it will be mandatory for most aircraft in the United States by January 1st, 2020.
ADS-B coverage is still limited in some rural areas of the United States. However, an ADS-B receiver will offer many benefits to both private and commercial pilots.
ADS-B receivers will provide air traffic information, real-time weather reports, terrain maps, flight information and much more. While ADS-B weather receivers will need to be equipped with the UAT datalink standard, these systems will provide coverage with no monthly subscriptions needed.
ADS-B will be available to all pilots in the United States for free. In addition to improving aircraft separation, ADS-B systems will be able to provide radar-like IFR aircraft separation in areas that don't have radar coverage. It will also improve ATC traffic management near airports.