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Flying with ADS-B: Austin, Texas

26 June 2015 @ 4:00 PM  / Aviation Blog / Lucy's Logbook /

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Here at Garmin, we are incredibly fortunate (and completely spoiled) to have access to great aircraft that are equipped with state-of-the-art avionics that give us all of the information we could ever dream of – and more. A mere ten years ago, I recall flying with a GNS 430W in a well-equipped Cessna 172R without weather, without traffic and well, that fancy GPS/NAV/COM system was basically all I had, which was more than plenty! Now that iPad’s have taken over the cockpit, along with glass and touchscreen flight displays, it’s a rarity to find someone who isn’t flying with some sort of weather or traffic information on board.

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Over the next few weeks I’ll be flying across the country in our 2001 ADS-B In/Out-equipped Cirrus SR-22, which boasts an impressive instrument panel, including: G500, dual GTN 750’s, GTX 330, GDL 88, Flight Stream 210 and GDL 69. Throughout these series of flights, I’ll be visiting 10 states, flying over 12 major metropolitan cities and covering over 3,200 nautical miles (for those of you counting, that’s a little over 30  hours of flying). I have already embarked on part of my adventure and it’s remarkable to see how different (yet similar) flying with an ADS-B-equipped aircraft is throughout different parts of the country. You may be thinking, traffic is traffic and weather is weather, right? As you’ll see, that’s not always the case.

As I departed Kansas City for the Houston area, it was very typical - cleared direct up to 8,000 feet. My plan was to swing through Houston and end up at Austin for the evening. Houston proved to be busier than I had anticipated, with a number of aircraft in the very busy Class B airspace. Houston Center dropped me down to 2,000 feet for the last 30 nautical miles, which was not exactly ideal given it was already a muggy 90 degrees at 11:00 AM. From Houston, I made a quick 45-minute flight over to Austin where I put the Cirrus to bed for the night.

The next day, I departed Austin for Kansas City with the intention of stopping in the Dallas/Ft. Worth area. After a quick lunch at Ft. Worth Spinks (KFWS) with good friends, I was off to New Century (KIXD) in Kansas City. Anticipating a departure, I used ATC Preferred Routes within Garmin Pilot and filed the TEX3.TUL departure, as that was the most commonly received departure out of that airport. Thankfully, that appeased air traffic control as I was “cleared as filed” and I was off to Kansas. Just as I found in Houston, flying through DFW airspace at a mere 4,000 feet proved to be a little more thrilling than I had thought it would be. It was at this point, I was thankful for Target Trend on the dedicated traffic page within the GTN 750. Below is a side-by-side – the image on the left shows the traffic picture without Target Trend and the image on the right shows all of the traffic targets with Target Trend overlaid. Target Trend allows pilots to more easily interpret and anticipate aircraft trajectories based on the location and direction of travel of your aircraft. The green trajectory lines specifically highlight which aircraft may (or may not) be of concern to you. Without Target Trend, it’s not easy to interpret the relative motion of the aircraft around you and judging by this before/after, its clear there was an aircraft traveling toward me and without Target Trend, I wouldn't have been able to discern that. Needless to say, I was a HUGE fan of Target Trend during my flight that afternoon!

Target Trend Before  Target Trend After

Stay tuned as I travel to Ohio, Washington D.C., Connecticut and a few points in between over the next few weeks. I’ll take plenty of pictures and hopefully have some great stories and examples to share with you as I demonstrate just how valuable ADS-B In/Out is within our National Airspace System.

Oh, and as if I wasn’t busy enough flying through Houston, Austin and Dallas, my vivofit was evidently less than satisfied with my activity level during my flight. If the subtle red “move” bar only took into account how busy I was in Class B airspace… :)

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