2018 End of Year Thoughts & Reflections

Written by: Joe Braddock

Hard to believe that 2018 is almost a wrap and we are thinking about what 2019 will bring. We all get so involved in the busyness of our daily lives that we don’t get a chance to sit down and reflect on happenings, trends, or challenges that might be around us. The aviation industry continues to change and evolve. No doubt about that. Here at Southeast Aerospace, we’ve seen our share of happenings and whatnot so I thought I’d share a few with you.

On our side of things, ADS-B is dominating the avionics world. 2018 finally saw many aircraft owners committing to comply with the 2020 ADS-B Out mandate. Most avionics shops, big or small, are scheduling out ADS-B installations well into 2019. Most ADS-B equipment manufacturers appear to be keeping up with demand although a few are already experiencing some backorders. It’s safe to say that shops should start thinking of stocking some ADS-B equipment if they are not already. I cannot imagine that manufacturers and distributors will have ADS-B equipment ready on the shelf all throughout 2019. While there’s more options than ever for ADS-B equipage, some aircraft owner/operators are still waiting to comply with the mandate. It’s not all about procrastination either. Some aircraft owners (mostly bizjet and up) are weighing the investment of implementing ADS-B Out into their aircraft versus selling and investing in a new aircraft. It will be interesting to see how many owners in 2019 opt to comply or not. Regardless, 2019 should be hectic for shops to juggle existing, scheduled, and last minute installs as 2019 comes and goes. No doubt that 2019 will be an exciting year for ADS-B.

Obsolescence and support for legacy parts continues to be an interesting topic for the bench shop and part sales world. Support for many legacy parts is getting more challenging as manufacturers discontinue their own support, lifetime buys of piece parts run out, or other issues render some parts unrepairable in some way. This is obviously a natural progression in most industries, however, in years past, it didn’t happen as quickly in aviation. With the affordability of digital, glass systems and retrofit units, it is becoming a no-brainer to upgrade certain legacy systems and components. Conversely, it’s amazing to see some manufacturers continue to increase prices on the support of certain legacy items without having an affordable upgrade for the customer to consider. As manufacturers continue to reconsider their traditional dealer network and large companies are getting larger through mergers, the choices for customers to maintain their legacy systems in their aircraft will continue to be affected. That’s not to say that it’s all bad and legacy parts/systems will disappear overnight. However, as time goes on, this support aspect may not get easier and it’s probably time for a lot of aircraft owners to upgrade in some way. Most manufacturers are doing a great job of bringing realistic, affordable upgrade paths for many aircraft. I think 2019 will bring even more affordable upgrade options for aircraft owners. I can’t wait to see what is next as technology seems to be advancing exponentially.

Open up any aviation magazine or newsletter and you will see something about the hiring challenges in the industry. Whether it’s pilots, technicians or mechanics, the industry is facing a significant shortage. Talk to almost any aviation company and they will tell you that they are looking for people. That sounds like good news for the people already in the industry as far as wages and salaries. It will be interesting to see how much the industry can bear in relation to supply and demand. It will also be interesting to see the affect on labor rates, overhead and sustainability for most shops. Expenses, wages, and just the cost of doing business in aviation will probably increase again in 2019. The bottom line is that it’s not getting easier to run an aviation business for a lot of reasons. How much of all that is the end customer willing to absorb?  On a positive note, this issue facing the industry has brought together many organizations and associations to market and promote ways to bring more people into the industry. While smartphones and computers might be more interesting technology to the younger generations, airplanes and all aircraft in general are still cool, high-tech and incredible in a lot of ways. We need to continue to remind the public about that as we promote and market.

All in all, it has been a good year for the industry in many ways. There will always be challenges and issues that arise but that’s part of life whether we like it or not. Part of who we are as people, a community and society is defined on how we choose to react to something challenging: rise above and grow from it. For better or worse, the aviation industry gives us those opportunities fairly regularly :). The end of a year also gives you that opportunity to reflect on what you appreciate and value. I know one of the things I appreciate about my daily work is the relationships I have with my co-workers and friends in the industry. People are still what make the difference in this world. Maybe the world would be an easier place to live in if we all just said “Thank You” and showed genuine appreciation to the people you talk to every day. Perhaps this holiday season, we all can do that and start 2019 on a high note!

FAA Offers General Aviation ADS-B Rebate

Starting this Fall, the FAA is offering a monetary incentive to help owners of less-expensive general aviation aircraft equip with the required avionics that comply with the ADS-B Out rule that will take effect Jan. 1, 2020. The agency will offer a $500 rebate to eligible aircraft owners.

Are you eligible for a rebate?FAA-ADSB-Rebate-Qualify

Eligible aircraft: Defined as U.S.-registered, fixed-wing, single-engine piston aircraft, first registered before Jan 1, 2016.

Eligible equipment: Avionics that are certified to FAA Technical Standard Orders and meet the program rules (software upgrades of existing equipment are not eligible). Rebates are not available for aircraft already equipped with rule compliant ADS-B or for aircraft the FAA has previously paid or committed to pay for upgrade(s) to meet the ADS-B mandate.

Read the full program rules.

Start the Rebate process now by doing the following:

  • Validate: Review and validate the aircraft owner information and aircraft-specific information contained within the Civil Aircraft Registry. The FAA will determine rebate program eligibility using the information in the Civil Aircraft Registry, and all rebates will be mailed to the aircraft owner as recorded in the registry. Visit the FAA Registry.
  • Research: Go to the Equip ADS-B website to research eligible equipment. This website includes additional information about ADS-B mandate airspace.
  • Plan: Locate a certified installation location (Southeast Aerospace is your installation expert!), if required, and determine the specific aircraft requirements to ensure the installation is performed in accordance with applicable FAA regulations and meets the requirements identified in the General Aviation ADS-B Rebate Program Rules. While you may purchase the equipment now, your installation must occur after the program website is opened to rebate reservations to qualify for the rebate. The anticipated timeframe is estimated as Fall 2016.

Preview the ADS-B Rebate Process with our infographic.

Have questions? Get answers from our ADS-B Rebate Frequently Asked Questions.

[article written & published by FAA.gov, source: http://www.faa.gov/nextgen/equipadsb/rebate/]

Garmin Clears Up the ADS-B Picture!

Garmin clears up the ADS-B picture!

Leave it to Garmin to clear up a very confusing, cluttered market of ADS-B products for general aviation.  This time there’s no rebranded products, partial approved model STC for certification, tricky install footnotes, gotchas or $7000 transponders.
GTX345
The new GTX-335 and GTX-345 transponders are finally an all-in-one option that addresses almost every possible ADS-B installation scenario.
Features and options include:
  • Models available with or without internal WAAS GPS
  • ADS-B In capability (optional)
  • Most display compatibility option in the industry including G1000
  • Ideal size and fit factor (1.65” H) makes it easy to replace almost any panel mount transponder
  • Remote mount versions available for GTN 650/750 compatibility
  • Rack mount altitude encoder available to eliminate external wiring to encoder (optional – $299 List)
  • AML STC allowing for easy installation in hundreds of aircraft
  • List Prices start at $2995

Quite simply, if you already have a Garmin transponder (GTX-327/330 or remote GTX-32/33), then the GTX-335/345 are the most sensible option for you.  However, even if you have an older Mode C transponder, then the Garmin option is still the most sensible since you will update to a modern transponder while having complete ADS-B Out capability to comply with the 2020 mandate.

The ADS-B picture for general aviation is now much clearer.
For more GTX-335/345 details and product images, visit Garmin’s Blog post “Garmin Introduces Next Generation of All-In-One ADS-B Transponders”.

Garmin Announces Next Generation All-in-One ADS-B Transponders

GTX345Garmin announced today the release of the GTX 345 and GTX 335, all-in-one ADS-B transponders, which include Extender Squitter (ES) ADS-B Out with options for built-in WAAS position source as well as dual-link ADS-B In. With the most compatibility options in the industry, these new transponders display on a wide variety of current and legacy Garmin displays, including select G1000 integrated flight decks. Regardless of the existing avionics configuration, the GTX 345 enables more capabilities for pilots by displaying ADS-B traffic, subscription-free weather, GPS position data and back-up attitude information within popular apps such as Garmin Pilot and ForeFlight Mobile via Connext wireless technology. The GTX 335/345 come in an attractive size and form factor, making it easy to replace the most popular transponders in the industry, like the Garmin GTX 327 and many others. Remote options are also available for compatibility with the GTN 650/750 series and G1000-equipped aircraft. List prices start at $2,995.

View the full press release from Garmin here: http://newsroom.garmin.com/press-release/featured-releases/garmin-unveils-next-generation-all-one-ads-b-transponders

ADS-B 2020 Deadline in Question

Fgallery2-1The FAA has been considering an extension on the 2020 deadline for ADS-B Out on commercial aircraft due to a petition by Airlines for America (A4A). The exemption is being requested due to the fact that old airlines are equipped with early generation GPS receivers that may experience brief outages of the required performance for ADS-B Out, and the necessary gear with WAAS capability will not be available in time for 2020. They are proposing a 5 year grace period where the ADS-B transponders are hooked up to the old GPSs with a promise to have the approved source avionics installed by 2025.

The FAA did confirm their consideration of the petition, but has not yet reached a decision on the fate of commercial airline ADS-B Out requirements. They have stated that general aviation aircraft will not receive an extension no matter the outcome of the airliners’ request. The difference between the two industries is that there are already plenty of options available for GA owners to comply, even with more than 250,000 GA aircraft vs ~6,000 airliners requiring new equipment.

An excerpt of the FAA’s statement to AvWeb when asked about this petition is as follows:  “The FAA has completed the deployment of ADS-B ground radios and has called on aviation users to equip their aircraft in advance of Jan 1, 2020 mandate. The air carrier community identified a concern with the availability and schedule for upgraded GPS receivers, which are one component of the ADS-B Out system… The FAA is reviewing A4A’s petition and will consider all public comments before determining whether to grant or deny the petition.” You can read the full details of the FAA’s response Here.

SEA’s Take: NextGen and the March towards Progress

FAA-planeby Joe Braddock

The FAA recently released a list of more than 700 VOR and NDB instrument approach procedures that it proposes to cancel as the move towards the NextGen satellite-based air traffic system continues.  The FAA has set targets to reduce the number of operating VORs from 967 to 500 by the year 2020 according to the VOR MON Implementation Program dated October 24, 2012.

While there are certainly obvious cost considerations for maintaining both ground and satellite based navigation simultaneously, it remains to be seen if this movement towards only satellite based navigation will be detrimental in the future.  Redundancy and back-up systems are an essential part of aviation safety and aircraft operation.  All technologies are subject to interruption from natural disasters or sabotage, however satellite technology is also subject to other factors as well such as solar flares.  The FAA contends that this NextGen transition should be relatively seamless since it believes that most aircraft will have WAAS GPS receivers as part of ADS-B compliance.  However, several ADS-B products being offered today are incorporating GPS receivers for aircraft that do not have a dedicated WAAS GPS navigation radio on board.  Therefore, general aviation owners who can meet the ADS-B mandate with a UAT or transponder with built-in GPS will lose their ability for ILS approaches at the locations on the FAA closure list.

Alternatively, the FAA and USA as a country cannot afford to fund and account for every “what if” scenario.  Some of this responsibility will have to be taken on by owners and operators who are hesitant or cannot afford to upgrade their legacy avionics to NextGen type systems in the aircraft.  It seems to be a unified opinion that the National Airspace system is old and needs to be updated.  Safety and reliability cannot be assured with 50+ year old technology.  For example, many owner/operators were not pleased when they were forced to discontinue using LORAN in place of GPS.  However, no one can dispute the benefits of GPS technology in aircraft.   If planned properly and in a timely manner, most avionics upgrades can be painless, unobtrusive, and fundable.  It appears that the movement towards the Next Generation (NextGen) of aircraft technology is very strong and will not discontinue until all older technologies have been addressed.  Part of that is just simply human nature and progress.  Unfortunately, as with all things in life, that comes with a price most of the time.  That is not what many General Aviation operators want to hear, but it is the truth.

To access the FAA’s announcements, reports, and lists, Click HereIn addition, the FAA will accept comments in reference to the Proposed Rulemaking until May 28th , 2015.

ADS-B Field Approvals and Equipment Compatibility

Fgallery2-1Some questions in reference to certifying ADS-B Out in an aircraft via field approval seem to arise every now and then.  While most equipment OEMs attempt to obtain Approved Model Lists (AML) for their STCs, some aircraft operators and maintenance providers may attempt to seek ADS-B approval by installing GPS receivers with transponders that have not been previously approved by the FAA. 

While this sort of alternate ADS-B approval method may be possible, it certainly would not be the ideal method.  That is, the FAA is very clear in that for an ADS-B Out installation to be approved the pairing of the GPS and transponder must be “previously-approved” under type certificate (TC) or supplemental type certificate (STC).  Click Here to reference subject matter “Installation Approval for ADS-B Out Systems” on FAA Memo dated Oct 10, 2012 . Despite this certification and approval detail, all GPS and transponder manufacturers are still not completely on the same page in relation to one OEMs equipment playing properly with another OEMs equipment.  Some improvements in relation to OEM compatibility continue to be made as the deadline approaches, however it is still not a 100% known whether all GPS and transponder OEMs will work together in relation to ADS-B Out interfaces.  tech-pub

In addition, most GPS manufacturers frequently make software changes in their units which might affect the ADS-B functionality to the transponder.  As of the date of this article, OEMs are not obligated to share proprietary information that would enable or otherwise affect the ADS-B Out interface between varieties of equipment.  For reference, click Here for a document that provides a list of “FAA-Approved” ADS-B Out Avionics as of April 3, 2014.  While this list will obviously continue to be updated and expanded, it is important to reference since it lists what transponders have been approved to be used with “approved position source(s)”. 

FAA-LOGOAs indicated above, the FAA will not approve any ADS-B Out field approval if the transponder and associated position source are not on this list.  Likewise, installers and integrators should be cautious when attempting to interface GPS and transponders that are from separate manufacturers unless both manufacturers have approved the interface.  Southeast Aerospace will continue to provide the most up-to-date, realistic information regarding the ADS-B Out mandate and how it affects all parts of the aviation industry.   Please be on the look out for future SEA white papers, commentaries, and other reference material as the 2020 mandate approaches.

 

FAA Completes Nationwide Equipment Installation for NextGen Aircraft Tracking System

Earlier this week, the Federal Aviation Administration announced the completion of a nationwide infrastructure upgrade that will enable air traffic controllers to track aircraft with greater accuracy and reliability, while giving pilots more information in the cockpit. This upgrade is a key improvement in the Next Generation Air Transportation System.

nextgen_blog“This upgrade is an important step in laying the foundation for the NextGen system, which provides controllers a much more precise view of the airspace, gives pilots much more awareness and information, and as a result strengthens the safety and efficiency of our system,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx. “This state-of-the-art satellite system is already providing controllers with visibility in places not previously covered by radar.”

The nationwide installation of the Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast (ADS-B) radio network supports a satellite-based surveillance system that tracks aircraft with the help of GPS. This provides more accurate aircraft location information than the current radar system.

NextGen refers to a set of initiatives being implemented by the FAA in collaboration with the aviation community to ensure that the United States has the safest, most efficient airspace possible for decades to come. In addition to ADS-B, NextGen improvements are already delivering benefits that include more efficient air traffic procedures that save time and fuel and reduce emissions.

“The installation of this radio network clears the way for air traffic controllers to begin using ADS-B to separate equipped aircraft nationwide,” FAA Administrator Michael Huerta said. “It will also provide pilots flying aircraft equipped with the proper avionics with traffic information, weather data and other flight information.”

Of the 230 air traffic facilities across the country, 100 are currently using this system to separate traffic. It is expected to be connected and operating at all 230 facilities by 2019. All aircraft operating in controlled airspace must be equipped with ADS-B Out avionics that broadcast the plane’s location, by Jan. 1, 2020.

With the upgraded surveillance and broadcast system and aircraft equipped with ADS-B Out transponders, aircraft positions on controller screens update almost continuously, compared to every 4.7 seconds or longer with radar.

ADS-B also enables more accurate tracking of airplanes and airport vehicles on runways and taxiways, increasing safety and efficiency. The new system significantly improves surveillance capability in areas with geographic challenges like mountains or over water. Airplanes equipped with ADS-B In, which is not currently mandated, will give pilots information through cockpit displays about location in relation to other aircraft, bad weather and terrain, and temporary flight restrictions.

In addition to the operational benefits of ADS-B, each one of the 634 ground stations installed by Exelis of McLean, Va., is substantially smaller than a radar installation – resulting in less impact to the environment and less cost to maintain.

Source: Federal Aviation Administration

FreeFlight’s Wireless ADS-B Solution | AvWeb

“With the ADS-B mandate looming five years ahead, we’re seeing more products that address this requirement, including this one shown at AEA in Nashville. FreeFlight’s wireless Rangr all-in-one box provides ADS-B In and Out and has a wireless adapter to put the weather and other data on a tablet.” – AvWeb

All content provided by AvWeb and FreeFlight. For specific certification and installation information, contact SEA @ www.seaerospace.com / email: sales@seaerospace.com.