I’m Canadian Do I Need to be ADS-B Equipped? (Updated)

Updated December 30, 2019

As of January 1, 2020 much of the airspace over the U.S.A will be open to aircraft operating with    “ADS-B Out” equipment only. This year at Oshkosh we spoke with the FAA get some questions answered as it pertains to us Canadians. As it turns out we do not get any special exemptions for having a C mark on our aircraft however depending on where you fly it may not be as restrictive as you may think. Hopefully the questions and answers below will help you better understand how the new regulations impact your flying so you can make an informed decision whether or not to spend the money on getting ADS-B equipped.

ADS-B Questions & Answers (Applies to U.S. Airspace)

As a Canadian pilot flying a Canadian registered aircraft.

Am I exempt from the  ADS-B requirements?
– There are no special exemptions for aircraft registered outside the United States.
– The only exception is that aircraft that are transiting Class C US Airspace that is controlled by a NavCanada (The Cherry Point/East Point Cooridoor as an example) will not need to be ADS-B equipped.

What areas will require that I have ADS-B Out installed in my aircraft?
– The simple answer is that any airspace that currently requires you to have a Mode-C transponder will require you to have ADS-B as of 2020. There are a few additions to this rule which include any airspace that lies over or under Class B (30nm Ring), over Class C and all airspace above 10,000 MSL (greater than 2500AGL).

What is meant by any airspace the lies over or under Class B?
– Class B airspace is located above most of the nation’s largest airports such as: Los Angeles, San Francisco, New York, Seattle, Chicago, Phoenix, Miami etc… It is more commonly described as an upside down wedding cake that extends out to 30nm from the main airport. Under the new ADS-B mandate for 2020 you will need to be ADS-B equipped if you wish to fly within the 30nm circle surrounding any Class B regardless of your altitude. (See Seattle Example Below)

Can I stay above Class C?
– No you will have to fly around Class C airspace as well

Are there any restrictions outside controlled airspace?
– Yes, without ADS-B you are restricted to operating below 10,000 MSL. In order to allow for flight in mountainous regions there is an exemption zone 2500AGL above 10,000 MSL to allow you to clear the mountains.

How do the new ADS-B rules affect me as a pilot in British Columbia come 2020?
When you fly in the US:

  1. Do you fly at or above 10,000 feet MSL (or more than 2,500 feet AGL above 10,000 feet MSL)?
  2. Do you fly to or from,  above or through Class C airspace?
  3. Do you fly within 30 nautical miles around Class B airport?

If you can answer no to all these questions or arrange you flight so that you can answer no to these questions then you do not need to worry about ADS-B.

How much of the Northwestern States will be off limits without ADS-B?

As stated above, you will require ADS-B Out in order to fly above 10,000 feet MSL (or more than 2,500 feet AGL above 10,000 feet MSL everywhere. However the only Class C & B restrictions in the Northwest are the areas on the map in RED. You will not be permitted to fly over, under or through these areas without ADS-B Out. Realistically the majority of the region will still be very accessible. What will seem very restrictive is the fact that any airport that lies under the 30nm ring around Seattle will require you to be ADS-B equipped in order to visit whether it is a controlled airport or not. (See bottom image for more detail)

Other Class C Airports that will be restricted to ADS-B only are: Boisie Idaho (KBOI) & Billings Montana (KBIL)


Without ADS-B you will have to fly around these red circles as of 2020


The only airspace that will be limited below 10,000MSL in Alaska is the Class “C” around Anchorage


Our hope is that by giving you this somewhat basic version of how the ADS-B mandate of 2020 will impact your flying, you will be able to make a better decision as to whether upgrading to ADS-B is for you. There are many options on the market with more being added each month. One thing is for certain, we would all rather be putting the money into avgas but I’m sure everyone said the same thing decades ago when 2 way radios and ELTs became mandatory.

ADS-B out gives ATC the ability to track your aircraft with greater reliability and accuracy than conventional radar. If pilots opt to pair their ADS-B out installation with an ADS-B in component such as the Appreo Stratus they will be treated to live weather and some traffic information. One important thing to remember is that currently there are no ADS-B antenna’s in Canada so the benefits of ADS-B in are really only limited to when you are flying in the U.S.  and within range of the numerous ground based ADS-B stations.  

For more information visit the FAA ADS-B FAQ PAGE


Current (2015) ADS-B In coverage for features such as ADS-B live weather & traffic