Hey Scott. I hear there may be some wiggle room for non-compliant aircraft after the ADS-B mandate kicks in this January. What should I expect if I’m non-compliant?

Expect exactly what you get when you play with fire. There’s a good chance you’ll get burned.

What’s giving people hope is the fact that the FAA said it would, in fact, field requests to deviate from the requirements as long as those requests an hour before flight. But what they also indicated is that they’re only reserving these exceptions for rare occasions. And only if they have time to deal with you. 

So, getting a “yes” will be rare, and if you do get one, don’t expect a repeat. That’s because ATC doesn’t want policy stragglers to have an adverse impact on all those operators who made the effort to be compliant in time for the deadline.

Remember, the whole goal of the mandate is bring the entire industry to a new standard. And that can’t happen if exceptions are the standard.

Bottom line: if you’re flying to airports that are nowhere near capacity at non-peak times, you may have a chance. Otherwise, it’s best not to push your luck.