Tired of hearing about ADS-B yet? Time marches on as the January 2020 deadline draws closer. It is safe to say that the FAA will not extend thisCapture deadline. FAA Acting Deputy Administrator Victoria Wassmer assures everyone of that fact, “I’m going to say this as plainly as I can: the ADS-B equipage deadline is not changing. If you plan to fly your plane in most controlled airspace after December 31, 2019, you’re going to need to install ADS-B.”

The FAA has estimated that there is between 100,000-160,000 GA aircraft that will need to be ADS-B equipped to fly after the deadline. So how many of those aircraft are equipped with 31 months left before time runs out? As of June 1, 2017 the FAA reports that 26,414 GA aircraft have been equipped with ADS-B. That is a scary number. With approximately 1,100 certified repair stations ready to install ADS-B, now is the time to get serious about a solution for your aircraft. Getting an appointment in an install shop will be harder to obtain as the deadline approaches, not to mention the possibility of higher install prices. There are certain factors in an ADS-B installation that an average A&P mechanic cannot and should not handle. Equipping sooner rather than later helps in case there is an issue with the installation. This will allow you time to fix the problem affecting the performance and compliance of your system and then take your test flight to validate that your system is working properly.

So why are so many aircraft owners and operators still not ready to equip? Why does it seem like so many are waiting until the last minute?

  • Some say they are waiting for the prices on ADS-B units to drop. It does seem like prices have gotten about as low as they are going to get. Also lets not forget about the FAA’s $500 rebate, which runs for one year or until all 20,000 rebates are gone. Here’s the good news about the ADS-B rebate, it’s not too late to get yours. As of June 5 there are still 13,828 waiting to be reserved before the cut off date of September 18, 2017.
  • I’m selling my aircraft anyways, so why should I spend the money for the upgrade? Well that’s fine but go ahead and deduct the price of an ADS-B system from your ground-plane-garminidea (3)asking price, because one of the first things most buyers are going to ask is if the plane is compliant with ADS-B. The value of your aircraft will depend on whether or not you have at least a validated ADS-B Out system installed. If you still don’t want to upgrade, just find a nice parking spot for your plane because it will probably be there for a long time.
  • I just don’t see the value in getting ADS-B. Really…how is that possible? The value in ADS-B and NextGen should be very easy to see by now. It is the most advanced and most accurate way to track and position aircraft in our skies. It improves the communication between air traffic controllers and pilots, given them both an accurate and exact location of every plane in the surrounding airspace. Pilots have never had this much situational awareness in the cockpit. Not to mention if you are flying with ADS-B In, having the free weather and traffic information right in front of you is very beneficial.

Despite recent comments made by the President about ATC, the ground based radar system we have had in place for 80 years has served our airspace well.  But like all thingsADS-B Coverage it must come to an end. The state-of-the-art ADS-B system will provide safer skies by giving the ATC and pilots more information, less impact on the environment by reducing the amount of fuel you will use because of more direct routes, and by providing coverage where radar does not exist, such as the Gulf of Mexico and mountainous terrain. This will help with search and rescue operations in the event an aircraft does go down. So however the new President changes our ATC system, there is no realistic way around the foundation of ADS-B Out (i.e. GPS position data of aircraft).  While there may be plenty of other ideas and theories out there still being discussed, ADS-B is what we got and unless someone can offer any other economical, reasonable, and implantable solutions, that’s what we are going with by 2020.  If you’ve got something better, then I’ll wait to hear from you.

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Destination: Florida’s Space Coast

Looking for unspoiled beaches, world-famous surfing and mind-blowing rocket launches? Look no farther than Florida’s Space Coast. stretching 72 miles along Florida’s east coast from Sebastian State Park to Canaveral National Seashore. It is only 45 minutes east of Orlando and its biggest cities include Cocoa Beach, Melbourne, Palm Bay, Port Canaveral, Titusville, and Viera. There are endless things to do and see on the Space Coast, so if you are looking for a warm and sunny adventure packed summer vacation, then this is the destination for you.

MLBYou can start your vacation by flying into Orlando Melbourne International Airport, which was recently named the No. 1 Most Scenic Airport Landing in the U.S., and No. 8 Most Scenic Airport Landing in the world by PrivateFly, then make your way to some of the best beaches Florida has to offer.

When you find your beach look up, you might just see why it is known as the Space Coast. It got its name from the relationship it has to America’s space program at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center and the Canaveral Air Force Station located at Cape Canaveral. Ever wonder why the Brevard County telephone area code is 3…2…1, liftoff! Even Delta airlines got in on the space theme designating their last flight of the day from Atlanta to Melbourne as DL321. You can pretty much pick any beach or unobstructed location on the Space Coast to watch a launch, but some will offer a much more amazing view than launchothers. Here are just a few of those spots. For many more spots to watch a launch and much more info on the schedule visit:

  1. Playalinda Beach is one of the closest locations for viewing being just 5 miles away from Launch Complex 40 and Launch Complex 41 where the Atlas V and Falcon 9 launch from. Beware if it is a launch from Complex 39A, the beach may be closed because of how close it is to that launch pad.
  2. Max Brewer Bridge and Space View Park are best for Launch Complex 39A launches, but both are a great spot for nearly all launches.
  3. The Cocoa Beach Pier and Lori Wilson Park are both excellent locations for most launches and while waiting for the launch you can grab a drink or do some fishing at the pier.
  4. If you would like an up close viewing spot and don’t mind paying for the ticket, then the best place for you is the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex. This will get you the best seat anywhere around to watch any of the launches. For more info visit:

ron jonDon’t like just sitting around on the beach? Well grab a surfboard and hit the waves on the surf capital of the east coast. The legendary Cocoa Beach is home to several of the worlds best surfers such as Kelly Slater, Dana Brown, and the Hobgood brothers Cj and Damien. Never surfed before and you really want to catch some waves…no problem give the Ron Jon Surf School a chance to teach you. Oh yeah don’t forget to visit the Ron Jon Surf Shop, the worlds most famous surf shop, which is open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.

Another very cool outdoor adventure that should definitely be on your bucket list while visiting is a Bioluminescence Kayak Tour. Florida is one of 6 places in the world where you can see bioluminescence in nature. What is bioluminescence? It is microscopic organisms called dinoflagellates, or plankton, which create an ethereal bioluminescent effect as a defense mechanism. So every paddle stroke produces a glowing blue/white bioluminescence-on-shorelight in the water when the plankton are disturbed and every wake of the other kayaks leaves a glowing trail. Hopefully you’ll also get to see the fireworks show that the jumping mullet provide when they hit the water.  May through November are the best months to view this unforgettable experience. For more info on tours check out A Day Away Kayak Tours or BK Adventure.

This is just a glimpse of what Florida’s Space Coast has to offer. Some of the other must see things are the Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge, Brevard Zoo, Exploration Tower, U.S. Air Force Space & Missile Museum, and Canaveral National Seashore. The Space Coast has so much more to offer visitors than just being the place where NASA is located. Make sure to explore all that Brevard County’s Space Coast has to offer. Southeast Aerospace is proud to call Brevard Co. home for 20 years now. You might just end up staying too.


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Wishy Washy Warranty

By Joe Braddock

As the market continues to ebb and flow, competition has reached an all-time high. Some companies are doing whatever they can do to make a sale. Desperation leads to cutting corners, cheating customers, and sometimes even flat-out ripping someone off.  Many of us are very price driven. Most customers and even some government agencies, make it very known that the “low bidder” wins.  Understandable for the most part, but a problem in the aviation industry.

From the outside looking in, most people tend to believe that the aviation industry is heavily regulated, secure, and not the type of industry that would lend itself to ‘bargain-basement’ practices.  However, that is not the case.  Often when people who are not in the aviation industry hear that some people remove parts from crashed aircraft and resell them to put in other aircraft, they are very surprised.  However, it happens every day and has for decades. It’s not illegal but some of this is certainly questionable in the whole picture of aircraft safety.  Most of the companies fly well under the FAA regulatory radar because they have no connection to any regulatory practices or agency so they are in this “gray market” as it has been named.

Dont Worry

Many companies who are not repair stations outsource the 8130s and certification for what they sell usually to the shop that will do it for the lowest price.  Makes sense, right?  In most cases, when the low bidder shop provides the piece of paper that this parts sales company wants, they are not providing any sort of support. The bargain shop issuing the 8130 may do a quick function test and that’s about it at best. With that, no knows what could be growing inside that unit or what else might be going on with it other than it might turn on. For some, it’s just that piece of paper the 8130 is printed on that matters and that’s all.

Messy Shop.JPG


How does this affect the ultimate end user?

The cliché – “You get what you pay for” – never seems tattooto be irrelevant.  If you want cheap, then in most cases you will get cheap.  However, with aircraft parts, we are talking about more than a cheap pair of $2 sunglasses falling apart in your hands.


An FAA Form 8130 should mean something more than the paper it is printed on. Unfortunately, to many of these companies it is not. An 8130 form is meant to show proof that a part conforms to its original design and is in a condition for safe operation.  “Safe” iFake8130s the keyword – do you want to feel safe when flying on an aircraft?  I’m sure most people would say yes, but I guess you never know.  Low bidding and 8130 printer shops are taking the quickest, easiest route to bench test a unit. Some are not even doing that as seen by what they reference (or do not reference) on the 8130 form. As mentioned earlier, the unit is not opened up to see what might be going on inside. Using the car analogy, if you want to make sure your car is safe and will get you where you need to go, you might look under the hood at some point.


Beyond safety, what is your understanding of a warranty?

In most cases, low bidder shops are not backing 8130s they issue with any warranty. Therefore, the question then gets directed to the company selling the part.  Since they have no way of knowing the performance or potential reliability of the unit they are selling, they just guess in most cases.  6 months? 1 year? – “Sounds good. That will help me sell it.”

So what happens when a warranty situation arises in this scenario? We have experienced many companies who just flat out will not support the unit.  Some want to argue about the particulars of what exactly is covered under THEIR warranty.  For example, the transmitter is not covered under their warranty because the shop that gave them the 8130 doesn’t cover the transmitter in their $100 or $200 bench check.  Huh?  But you said it had a 1 year “warranty”.

So I guess there is this new definition for “warranty”.  Sure, some warranties have limits, terms, etc. such as mileage or years on a car.  Or, time and/or cycles on an aircraft engine. However, that’s not what we are talking about here.  When I bought the unit, I asked you if your warranty was a “unit” warranty and you said “yes” because you wanted to make the sale.  Now, you’re telling me “well not exactly”     because you have to spend money out of your pocket to fix the

I realize that not all parts sales companies use these wishy-washy tactics.  There are still some people who will just do the right thing and do whatever it takes to resolve a problem.  I don’t know about you but that’s the type of company I want to deal with. I want to deal with people who mean what they say and back it up, even when it is an inconvenience or extra expense for them.  I believe that a company shows their true colors not when they offer you great customer service during the sale, but when a support issue or warranty claim happens.  How that company handles a challenging or adverse situation should be a big factor in determining who you call your preferred vendors.  If it’s not, then you are taking an unnecessary risk.  These types of parts companies know they are taking a risk when they sell you a part with any sort of warranty. They know this because ultimately they know they are just buying a piece of paper with their low cost 8130s.


Sure, one could argue that everything in life is risk inherently, however, why does buying aircraft parts have to be?

Risk management talks about controlling the probability of unfortunate events.  So, why not steer away your chance of unfortunate events by asking your vendors these questions before you buy?

  • What is your warranty and will you put it in writing?
  • Is your warranty comprehensive or ‘bumper to bumper’?
  • How will you handle my warranty claim if/when it happens?
  • Can you replace the defective unit?
  • Who will be responsible for any related expenses with a warranty claim?

If they can’t give clear answers to these questions, then maybe it’s time to look for vendors who will.

There are quite a few qualified, certified companies who sell parts with verifiable past performance and have a reputation for dependable support.  For example, did you happen to check the other company’s website for any of these?

  • Customer testimonials
  • Awards & Recognitions
  • Certifications & Authorizations
  • Anything that gives you a sense of who and what that company is about

It’s not that difficult to make the right decision the first time.  It just makes sense.

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Why should I use the more expensive shops?

By James Brewer

Your guy on the inside at SEA

At the risk of sounding like the 11 o’clock news, there is (probably) something wrong with your airplane. It’s probably inconsequential and may or may not even be noticeable.

I’ve had the opportunity to work on quite a few aircraft in 27 years and very rarely have I seen one that did not have a small problem in addition to the discrepancy reported. Sometimes it’s a misrouted wire or wire bundle, sometimes it’s a missing nut or screw, sometimes it’s an open static line on a VFR airplane that came in for a radio squawk and yet sometimes it’s something so makeshift that rational thought lacks the capacity to describe that which can never be unseen.

I’ve spent many years trying to figure out how these things happen. It’s too common to attribute it to shoddy technicians or mechanics. Although I’m sure they exist, I have yet to meet a tech or mechanic that would intentionally leave anything in a condition reminiscent of Medusa’s head.

The next most obvious culprit is time. It seems time is always against us in everything we do. I mean that in a collective us, not just in reference to techs and mechanics. Look at your own hectic schedule. How many times have you completed a project with a deadline looming like an obelisk from Jupiter that wasn’t just good, but good enough? The same Time Savingholds true in aviation. With the percussive beat of the second hand on the clock, a job can be completed that is good enough to meet the standards of aviation maintenance, and apparently occasionally less than the standards if empirical evidence is to be believed. Even if you were to take your aircraft out of service and do the work yourself to ensure everything gets done exactly as you want it, conforming to the most stringent interpretation of the regulations, and conforming to an aesthetic standard the likes of which Michelangelo would be jealous of, two years later your aircraft would still be in a hangar and you will still have taken a short cut along the way so that it was not just good, but good enough. Not that I speak from experience about that in any way (It’s only been a year and 10 months so far- this time).

That leads us to resources. The most common problem I see on an airplane is a repair or a work around that has all the signs of a lack of resources. For example; a floor panel that should have fourteen #10 screws in it has thirteen #10s and one #8, with Loctite. An instrument missing its clip nuts or a stripped brass screw is quite common. Rivnuts that have been broken and replaced with aviation nuts are my favorites. Especially when I have to figure out how the heck the person who put that nut there actually did it so I can perform a feat that would make MacGyver awestruck. The best resource (and maybe even time related) work around I’ve seen is black electrical tape used to seal a leak on a static line (I knew it was going to be a bad day as soon as I saw that).

After many accumulated man-hours of puzzled looks and utterances of “how the…” my “research” has led me to believe those are the primary culprits of less than acceptable repairs. They are problems that are universal and affect every person in every profession. With the ubiquity of time and resource scarcity being paramount to life in general, they are not easy problems to surmount. But there are ways to mitigate their effects. As it relates to your aircraft, using a more expensive shop can help with reducing the effects of time, resources, and technical aptitude.

When you ask a shop that charges $110.00 / hour for a labor rate how they can justify their rates, what is the answer you receive? Having been on the other side of that question, I have had to answer honestly: “We have quite a bit invested in technical data, parts stock, training, tooling, and experience. Because of that, we have a high level of quality that corresponds to that level of pricing.” That investment covers all three of the primary culprits of poor maintenance.

More importantly, that investment helps you get a better return on your maintenance dollars. Although all of the resources work in conjunction with each other, please allow me to address them individually to show how the customer can benefit from their availability.

The amount of technical data available at Southeast Aerospace is phenomenal. There is nothing that cannot be looked up and researched quickly and easily. Fortunately, much of it is digital, so there is a time savings of not having to search an entire hangar of print material. This gives me, the technician, more time to focus directly on your airplane. Even with a time crunch of a quick turn.

The parts stock at Southeast Aerospace is beyond compare. Hardware, radios (appliances), wire, tubing, and obscure “stuff” that I don’t even know what it goes to. More times than Shipping Inventoryare countable, an instrument has a stripped nut or screw. It takes just moments to go to the traceable stock and have the part in the aircraft with everything as it is supposed to be. For troubleshooting, having the ability to put in a serviceable unit from Southeast Aerospace stock to test a theory saves hours probing and rigging up test points in the aircraft. In short, when I get assigned an aircraft, as a tech I know I have all the resources available to tackle the job, and most of the unforeseen things that always seem to crop up in any project.

The amount of training we do as technicians at Southeast Aerospace is far beyond what I have seen elsewhere. The awards from the FAA and AEA speak for themselves and cover a broad band of aviation maintenance. Aside from formal training, we have technicians with a veritable potpourri of experience on many different aircraft. As technicians, we like to talk about technical stuff with other technical people. With all that talking comes a level of training from others experience that cannot be measured or quantified but has a direct impact on the quality and time taken to perform maintenance on your aircraft. This impromptu transfer of experience, training and ‘tribal knowledge’ can be as simple as “Hey, when you’re working on that plane, don’t forget that the static bulbs are located behind this panel.” or “I worked on that airplane five years ago, the radio you’re looking for is behind the baggage and on the left side. And watch out for that wire bundle above it.” It is tips like these that cut time from a project and provide an overall higher level of quality.

Tooling is one of the easier aspects to quantify. It’s easy to see how having the proper tool to do the job speeds up the process and allows for the job to be completed properly. But there are unmeasurable aspects to having a large selection of tools as is available at Southeast Aerospace. For example: while performing a 91.411 / 91.413 inspection, the #1 radio sounds a bit scratchy on ATIS. Having a NAV/COM test set available, a quick check of sensitivity can be performed while the static system returns to ground level. No additional time has been added to the job, but another point of inspection has been performed.

All of these assets combined, reduce the amount of time directly involved in any particular aspect of aircraft maintenance and allow for things to be looked at more closely. With just an extra 10 minutes of savings from having an experienced tech pass on tribal information about a particular airplane, a #8 screw in a #10 hole can be replaced. With a serviceable parts stock that is beyond compare, two hours of troubleshooting can be cut just by replacing the suspected NAV radio for testing, vastly cutting down on a time and materials bill. Having technical data relating not just to the job at hand, but to something that “looks a little odd” unrelated to the task allows for a check of something that could turn into a pricey repair later.

The short version of this is for that $110.00 / hour rate, you’re getting far more than FAA standards on your aircraft maintenance. You’re getting the little details covered that can add up to major problems down the road. I’ll replace the worn screw on the instrument panel now so that later it won’t take an hour of billable time to drill it out and replace the hardware behind it. Or re-rout the wire bundle that is lying across a sharp edge, so that six months from now you don’t have an intermittent audio problem. Or take the black electrical tape off of the static line and fix it with the parts on hand while looking at an HSI discrepancy so your next IFR cert goes well and doesn’t have an extra four hours of labor for troubleshooting a leak. Those are some of the things that make a $110.00/hour labor rate a better return on your maintenance dollars.

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What Can Drones Do For You?

These days whether you are a drone supporter or a drone critic, one thing we can agree on is drones are here to stay. Everyday we are learning about new and amazing ideas for using drones. It is an awesome time to be involved with drones. They are enhancing our everyday lives, advancing our industries, and expanding our futures. So, what you ask can these drones do?

Surely by now you have heard of at least some of the tasks drones are carrying out such as deliveries for companies like Amazon and Domino’s and the many uses they have in the military. But these Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV’s) have some other very cool uses.

  • Drones are starting to be used more and more for Search & Rescue Missions now that the technology is getting increasingly advanced. UAV’s can get to places where humans, search dogs, and helicopters can’t. They can be immediately put into action with no delay, giving rescuers real-time information when seconds matter the most. Missing hikers and natural disaster victims will be very thankful for that little drone flying around them in their time of need.
  • sb-halftimeDid you watch the Super Bowl Halftime Show this year? Well if you did then you saw an amazing light show going on in the sky behind Lady Gaga. Those lights were actually 300 little drones with an Intel technology called Shooting Star, which allows specialist to choreograph an airborne light show with an army of drones. Disney World also recently used the same technology to put on their Starbright Holiday show in Orlando.
  • Watching ESPN a while back I stumbled upon the DRL or the Drone Racing League. drlThat’s right drone racing! Pilots fly these racing drones at speeds over 100mph around a stadium or abandoned building and through a course specifically designed for these drone races. Pilots are flying them by wearing FPV (First Person View) goggles that transmit a live feed from a small camera mounted on the front of the drone. These pilots are truly skilled at flying these drones, making split second manuevers to get to the finish line first. It really is something to watch if you haven’t seen it yet.
  • Do we have any aspiring movie directors out there? Drone film festivals are starting to pop up all over the globe giving amateur film makers a chance to show off their short movies to crowds of thousands of movie buffs. The FRiff (Flying Robot International Film Festival) , the New York City Drone Film Festival, and the European Drone Film Festival  in Barcelona, Spain this year are just a few of the more popular events showcasing these short movies shot entirely from the perspective of a drone. FRiFF had 180 movie submissions from filmmakers of 40 different countries, while the New York City Drone Film Festival had upwards of 350 submissions from 45 different countries. To say these aerial shot movies are taking off is an understatement.

So what can drones do for you? Pretty much anything you can think of and then some. Whether its movies, sports, aerial light shows, or maybe saving your life one day,  I personally look forward to seeing what the future holds for drone technology.





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Social Media in Aviation…Are You Missing Out?

Social media in the aviation and aerospace industry has been particularly conservative over the last decade. Social media in the aviation industry is only getting more popular and the sky is the limit. Companies that are behind on the times or are just afraid to start using social media will soon be left behind and will start having to play catch up. This is one bandwagon you are going to want to jump on.

Here are a some facts pulled from an article on by Jomes Gregorio titled “6 Hottest B2B Social Media Marketing Trends in 2017.” This year there will be 219 million new users and social media accessed by mobile devices will have grown by 283 million users. Social media advertising is projected to generate $11 billion in revenue in 2017. The top platforms used by businesses in 2016 ranked by usage were LinkedIn 94%, Twitter 87%, Facebook 84%, YouTube 74%, and Google+ 62%. The Content Marketing Institute/Marketing Profs reports that the top 3 tactics used that B2B Marketers say will be most critical to success in 2017 are Blogs 52%, Email Newsletters 40%, and Social Media Content 40%. If your company is not involved in some kind of social media, these numbers should be a wake up call for you to consider getting on board.

What are some of the reasons these aviation companies might be capturereluctant to dive into the social media world? Here are a few of the most popular.

  • The average age of employees at aerospace and aviation companies is older than a lot of other industries. These guys have been at these companies for a very long time and seem to be set in their ways, ways that have always worked for them in the past. Social media is seen as a thing that the younger generation does to connect with friends or follow celebrities.
  • They just dont understand how it works or dont feel like it will work in this industry. The lack of understanding or vision keeps some of these companies in the dark ages marketing wise.
  • Companies think it is too risky. They might not want to risk technology, data or pictures of their products or work getting out.
  • Companies feel that is will take to much time and effort to be consistent with social media. They think that it may not be productive to have one person or a group of people working on social media day in and day out.

The pros of social media far outweigh any cons companies may be concerned about. It helps get your brand recognition out to other people or companies that might otherwise have never known you existed. It is an extremely inexpensive form of marketing that has a very far reach. It can drive more traffic to your website, which in turn can spark interest in your company and create new leads. Another good reason, and an often overlooked one, is the advantage it can give you when recruiting new associates. There are a lot of very smart, qualified young candiates out there and they are getting jobs by word of mouth or searching for them on some kind of social media platform.

Social media is no longer just for finding long lost friends or keeping in touch with friends and family that live long distances. By taking the time and putting in the effort required to be successful at social media, it will payoff in the long run for your company. Social media is now a sophisticated marketing machine. Use it to your advantage.


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My ADS-B Experience

_MG_2201.jpgBy James Brewer

An Avionics Technician & Aviation Enthusiast

I know, I know. You’ve been hearing about ADS-B non stop for the last 5 years or more. I know you’ve heard every single reason to get a system installed; from the benefits to the requirements. I know you’ve heard that at midnight of 2019, your airplane will magically never be able to fly again. You’ve no doubt heard all the regulations and requirements over and over again, as well as the applicable air spaces. I know I have long since reached saturation on the subject some time ago. More importantly, I know what the burden means to you. Really, I do.

I have the opportunity to live a dual life. One half as an avionics technician, and the other with a small partnership on an airplane so I understand the myriad of costs associated with airplanes from both sides. The hanger fees, the maintenance costs, the fuel, tie downs, endless inspections, and of course, that bulb that keeps blowing right before you want to get in the air. Every time you turn around, there’s some other thing you have to comply with. So adding on yet another burden is less than pleasant. Don’t tell anyone else in the industry, but I really disliked ADS-B when it was announced. I saw it as another overbearing requirement to fleece “the rich guys with airplanes.” Especially when you hear comments like “well, it’s only $5000. Be glad you don’t have (insert fancy jet name here) its $100,000 on one of those.” That’s great. But on a $15,000 Cessna 150, $5000 is a big chunk! Or the classic “well if you can afford an airplane, you can afford (insert outrageously priced aviation item here).” I hate that one.

But. I have become a convert and I am singing the praises of ADS-B now. All it took was one flight.

I have a friend who was looking to upgrade his aircraft to be compliant. It just so happens I was attending an ADS-B training session at the same time. Fortunately my boss, Joe Braddock, pulled me aside and told me about the Freeflight RANGR products. He knows I have a tight budget so he presented them to me as an affordable solution. I’m not yet at the point of doing the upgrade myself, (like I said, tight budget) but I did pass the information on to my friend, and for a lot less than he was expecting to pay, he had an ADS-B solution.

Fast forward a few weeks and we go up in his ADS-B (in and out) equipped 172. Wow. It was cool! I really stink at spotting traffic, but having that Ipad displaying the aircraft with their info and velocities right there in front of me, it was like a whole new world opened up. We had WAAS GPS, traffic, and weather! In a 172! For less than 5 grand! With no weight or amperage penalties from a heavy radar. Win-win-win! Plus there were no functional changes in cockpit duties. We still set the transponder when we had to and the ADS-B updated its information accordingly with no input from us. The amount of information and situational awareness we had was amazing for that price. Being a bit of a tech geek, it was a lot of fun to play around with too. I’m glad I was in the right seat!

As we were flying, the technician side of me came out too. The install was a lot faster than we expected, and a lot simpler with digital communication instead of big round bundles of wires and adapter modules. I was pleasantly shocked at the minimal panel real estate that the ADS-B control head took. We were both smiling big on that flight.

On the other hand, I also get to back seat a Super Decathlon from time to time. There is something beautiful about a small bird with minimal distractions and a lack of flashy electronics to take away from actually flying. If that’s you, then I have nothing constructive to offer. Flying like that is a treat in life and on the ADS-B ruling, you’re getting the short end of the stick. The only consolation is that the prices for minimal systems are coming down and there’s still enough competition for your business to keep labor costs reasonable. For now. But as a guy with an inside view of the avionics world, that tipping point is coming soon.

If you have the opportunity to go up in an equipped airplane, by all means do it. Take the right seat and play around. I’m sure you will be very pleasantly surprised and the pain of upgrading will be lessened significantly.

Stay tuned for an informational chart to help guide you to the right system for your needs and budget.

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Modifying Older Aircraft


By Nathan Hernandez

So you find your aircraft. You’ve wanted one, looked for one, and finally found one. It’s a great aircraft and was a great deal but the avionics are old and maybe outdated. Where do you start?

421c-beforeMost people start looking at before and after pictures on various websites and get some ideas. Then they get a quote for that full glass panel upgrade they saw online and….once their heart starts beating again and the sticker shock sinks in you ask the real question – what do I really need?

First of all, please remember this is about avionics. If your engines are past TBO, then get that done ASAP!

Avionics can perhaps be broken down into 3 sections- radios, flight instruments, and your autopilot. I tell people that electronic flight instruments and a great autopilot are wonderful tools but they are not practical without a good foundation. Your foundation tends to be the radios. That is, your audio panel, GPS, NAV, COMM and transponder. Those are the foundation of a good avionics package.

Start with your audio panel and transponders when you shop. You can have the biggest and best GPS/NAV/COMM on the market but if you cannot communicate with tower due to a failed audio panel or report altitude due to a failed transponder, well, then you’re grounded. That big awesome display means nothing at that point. Make sure your installers are putting in all new wiring and jacks for your intercom. The transponder needs a good serial encoder. This will reduce the risk of failures later and good shops will require it. No one wants to spend good money on their aircraft and have issues because they saved421c-after a few bucks with old wiring or an old encoder.

After those important details, at this point, you can look at the new displays with the GPS/NAV/COMM all built in. Personally, I recommend you aim for one really good unit and a strong secondary. Most of us are not going to buy an aircraft and spend the aircraft’s value on new avionics. Installing 2 large GPS/NAV/COMMs is great and looks cool but one with a solid back up will save you money and keep money in your pocket for the EFIS, autopilot, or maybe something like fuel? Just a thought.  Great avionics manufacturers like Garmin, Aspen, Sandel, Universal, Rockwell Collins, etc. have done their homework and produced systems with not only great features but great reliability and quality.

Don’t let yourself get caught off guard when you look to modify your aircraft. It’s always fun to go big and your avionics shop will be happy to help you do that. Make sure the shop you go to is looking out for your best interest. I have had clients ask me to install a nice EFIS with old unsupported radios. That does not help when you’re on final approach and your audio is not clear enough for ATC to give you clearance. What’s behind your panel or not in directly in your field of vision can be as critical as that nice looking big display in front of you.

For questions, comments, or even just to chat about anything avionics related, feel free to give me a ring or shoot me an email whenever you want.

Nathan Hernandez (321)255-9877 ext.291


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New Product Spotlight: L3’s Lynx NGT-9000

Still haven’t decided which solution you want to go with to become compliant with the FAA’s 2020 ADS-B mandate? L3’s Lynx NGT-9000 ADS-B transponder just made that choice alot easier for you. The NGT-9000 was designed as a form-fit replacement for your legacy transponder. With it’s state-of-the-art touchscreen technology you can quickly display traffic, weather, and terrain information.

Additional Features:

  • Mode S Extended Squitter (ES) transponder with intuitive touchscreen interface
  • Dual-mode 1090ES ADS-B Out plus 1090 and 978 ADS-B In
  • Designed for 14 V and 28 V installations
  • Patented Lynx Tail provides flight ID, aircraft type and ground speed data of other ADS-B traffic
  • Internal rule-compliant position source (WAAS/GPS)
  • Moving maps, including TFRs, airport databases and NOTAMs
  • Subscription-free ADS-B graphical and textual weather, including NEXRAD, METARs, Winds & Temps Aloft, AIRMETs and SIGMETs
  • ADS-B traffic (ADS-B, ADS-R and TIS-B) with option for the  L-3 NextGlynx-ngten Active Traffic enablement
  • Faceplate data port for maintenance personnel access to set up menus, software updates and option enablements via laptop
  • MFD and PFD interface to show traffic and weather data on compatible cockpit displays
  • Options available for active traffic, antenna diversity and PED (iPad) Wi-Fi connectivity
  • Now with Software 2.1, expected to begin shipping early 2017 per AML STC revisions
  • SW 2.1 adds additional featuers:
    • ADS-B Aural Traffic Alerting (ATAS) Improvements
    • Stormscope® WX-500 Interface
    • TerrainVision™ Enablement
    • VFR Button Removal for SFR Operators
    • Dual Transponder Installations

The L3 Lynx NGT-9000 is truly a one box solution for your ADS-B needs. For more information and pricing and availability, please visit:



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The Digital Solution

Does it still make financial or practical sense to maintain some analog instruments in your panel? Several manufacturers continue to make strides in offering affordable digital, electronic replacements for original, traditional analog attitude indicator instruments (aka “horizons”). OEM’s have released products that are not only reasonably affordable but offer higher reliability and some additional features over original, analog instruments. One of the most noteworthy of these OEM’s is Garmin with it’s recently released digital replacement the G5, which will replace traditional electromechanical backup instruments.

g5The Garmin G5 is a bright, 3.5” LCD color displayed, compact & cost-effect solution that delivers reliability as a standalone primary source for aircraft attitude or turn coordination information while also displaying secondary information. The G5 also delivers a solid airspeed indicator, altimeter, and vertical speed indicator.  Installation is made simple as the G5 is designed to integrate into existing systems, and is a standard 3-1/8 inch size. It can be used as standalone or fully integrated, dissimilar backup flight instrument for G3X & G3X Touch or other EFIS glass cockpits. For owners of older aircraft who thought a glass panel would be untouchable, the retail price is only $2,149, which includes the G5 unit, a four-hour back-up battery, and an installation kit.

In conjunction with the availability and lower pricing of the digital attitude instrument announcements, the FAA has published a policy describing the acceptable methods of replacing analog attitude instruments with electronic replacements. In this policy, the FAA provides further background for the substantiation of replacing aging, analog instruments with more current electronic technology.  These reasons may include:

  • Costs to maintain
  • Parts availability
  • Reliability

The policy explains some of the acceptable and airworthiness methods of replacing primary attitude instruments.  Some of these methods include:

  •  Replacement of a single function analog indicator with a single primary function electronic indicator (i.e. not interfaced to other systems such as autopilot or other systems).
  • Replacement of vacuum, analog instrument with electronic instrument containing a dedicated standby battery.

These are not the only methods and other installation conditions that must be met, but the point is that there are reasonable means and methods to upgrade to a more ideal, electronic instrument as a minor alteration in the aircraft.

For more detailed information on the new Garmin G5 or any of these new digital instruments or if you just need guidance on replacing any original, analog instruments in your aircraft, please do not hesitate to contact SEA or visit

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