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General Aviation and unmanned aircraft communities set to benefit from fund to subsidise electronic conspicuity devices

Rebates of up to £250 for new Electronic Conspicuity (EC) devices are now available thanks to funding from the Department for Transport (DfT) aimed at encouraging more adoption of EC within the UK’s General Aviation (GA) and Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) communities.

The CAA will distribute the funds via a rebate scheme which is open to applications for devices purchased before 28 February 2021 (or until the funding is used). Those meeting the requirements can claim a 50% rebate of the purchase cost of an EC device to a maximum of £250 (including VAT) per applicant.

Rob Bishton, CAA Group Director of Safety and Airspace Regulation, said: “’See and avoid’ remains the fundamental means of collision avoidance in Class G airspace.  Electronic conspicuity devices, used with an understanding of their benefits and limitations, can play an important role in improving situational awareness and reducing the risk of mid-air collisions in Class G airspace and airspace infringements.  Looking to the future, interoperable EC systems will also have a role to play in the on-going modernisation of the UK’s airspace structure; and enabling the safe and efficient integration of UAS operations with other airspace users.”

Full details on those eligible to apply, EC devices and how to claim a rebate are available on the CAA website at www.caa.co.uk/ec

The Department for Transport (DfT) has made available funding to encourage the adoption of Electronic Conspicuity (EC) within the UK’s General Aviation (GA) and Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) communities.  The CAA is distributing these funds via a rebate scheme.

The scheme will open to applications from the 5 October 2020 until 31 March 2021 (or until the funding is used). Those meeting the requirements can claim a 50% rebate of the purchase cost of an EC device to a maximum of £250.00 (including VAT), per applicant. We anticipate up to 10,000 rebates will be available.

What are the requirements to apply?

  • Funding is for carry-on or aircraft-fitted devices only. Ground system components do not qualify for this scheme.
  • Applicants can claim a single rebate of 50% – up to £250 – on EC equipment purchased.
  • Only equipment purchased from 1st October 2020 until 28 February 2021 will be eligible for rebate. 
  • You must produce a proof of purchase receipt.
  • You must hold at least one of the following UK issued pilot licences (UK or EASA part FCL):
  • Private Pilot’s Licence (PPL)
  • Commercial Pilot’s Licence (CPL)
  • National PPL (NPPL)
  • Sailplane Pilot’s Licence (SPL)
  • Balloon Pilot’s Licence (BPL)
  • Light Aircraft Pilot’s Licence (LAPL)

Or be a registered member of either the British Hang Gliding and Paragliding Association (BHPA) or the British Gliding Association (BGA).

  • Alternatively, if you are UAS/UAV operator then you must hold an authorisation issued specifically to them by the CAA (i.e. a permission, exemption or “operational authorisation”). General Exemptions, permissions or authorisations which are aimed at a wider and non specific group of operators are not included

What equipment is in scope of this rebate scheme?

We recognise that there are a range of EC solutions on the market that manufacturers and communities have developed for their own needs. 

The main equipment able to be used on an aircraft for EC purposes currently available (and that a refund can be claimed against) includes:

  • ADS-B Out capable transponder inclusive of GNSS position source (Mode S ES Enabled).  
  • ADS-B Out capable transponder without GNSS position source (Mode S ES)
  • Certified GNSS source for Mode S ES transponders (Including a GNSS position sources in line with the recently published AIC2019Y141, example being Trig TN72)
  • Power Flarm
  • Pilot Aware Rosetta
  • Sky Echo 2

We will consider requests from device manufacturers for alternative or newly developed equipment to be added on a case by case basis.

What do I need to consider before purchasing and using EC equipment?

‘See and avoid’ is the foundation for Visual Flight Rules flying in the UK.  EC devices can improve situational awareness for pilots but do not replace the fundamental role of ‘see and avoid’.  Pilots using EC devices should be aware of their functionality and what they can, and cannot, do.  Devices are not always interoperable with each other.  This means that users of one type of device may or may not be electronically visible to each other, may have different standards of reliability and accuracy, and may use different parts of the radio spectrum for transmitting signals.

The DfT and CAA are not recommending any specific device to pilots but do recommend that all pilots understand and consider the functional benefits, and limitations, of any EC device so they make informed decisions on the level of reliance that can be placed on the information provided to them.  

While not a definitive list the table below describes the currently most used EC technologies, a high-level understanding of the interoperability between them and which are certified.  

Conspicuity beacons Which traffic receivers can see them?  
ADS-B-in devices (certified) ADS-B in Rx Airborne Collision Awareness Systems (ACAS) Pilot AwareRosetta(PAW) Power FLARM Sky Echo 2 (SIL-1 Device) CAA CAP 1391 approved  
ADS-B Out transponder certified GPS Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes  
ADS-B out transponder uncertified GPS (Surveillance Integrity Level (SIL) 0) No*2 Variable*4 Yes Yes Yes Yes  
Power FLARM No No No Yes*1 Yes Yes*3  
Pilot Aware Rosetta(PAW) No No No Yes No No  
Sky Echo 2 (SIL-1 Device) CAA CAP 1391 approved Yes Variable*4 No Yes Yes Yes  
*1) Dependent on proximity to ground infrastructure
*2) Certified Traffic receivers normally exclude reports from transponders & beacons set to SIL 0
*3) New development requires a FLARM decode licence and a suitable display
*4) Transponders or beacons with a non-certified GPS (source integrity level 0) may not be detected by a certified ADS-B in device. Source integrity level 1 and above can be seen.
In the above table, the term certified means a device that has been tested for meeting ICAO standards and operates in the aviation spectrum. 

In parallel to the grant scheme, work will continue on a long-term strategy for EC in the UK. Surveillance technology will continue to develop quickly and, together with the DfT, we are open to exploring and embracing new technologies.  Applicants should be aware that in common with other technologies in any sector, any device purchased today is not necessarily guaranteed to meet any future EC requirements. 

How to apply

Applications can be made via our online stakeholder portal from 5 October 2020. You will be requested to register on the CAA online portal followed by submitting an online application form.

For all enquiries please contact us on [email protected]                                     

What is Electronic Conspicuity?

Electronic Conspicuity (EC) is an umbrella term for the technology that can help pilots, unmanned aircraft users and air traffic services be more aware of what is operating in surrounding airspace. EC includes the devices fitted to aircraft and unmanned systems that send out the information, and the supporting infrastructure to help them work together.  Airborne transponders, air traffic data displays, ground-based antennas and satellite surveillance services are all examples of EC.  The information generated by these can be presented to pilots and air traffic services visually, audibly or both to provide them with information on other traffic nearby.  This strengthens the principle of ‘see and avoid’ by adding the ability to ‘detect and be detected’.  To be most effective it needs 100% of users operating in a designated block of airspace using compatible EC devices, and be able to be detected by others.

EC can play a vital role in three key areas to support the UK’s Airspace Modernisation Strategy (AMS): 

1.     Enabling the on-going modernisation of the UK’s airspace structure and route network.

2.     Helping to mitigate the risk of mid-air collisions in Class G, and infringements into controlled airspace.

3.     Enabling the safe and efficient integration of unmanned aircraft.

More information:

Airspace Modernisation Strategy

Information on EC devices www.caa.co.uk/cap1391

AIC2019Y141 : the steps that can be made to enable ‘ADS-B out’ throughout the General Aviation fleet to reflect recent changes and developments from EASA

Information for devices falling under CAP1391:  

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