Across aviation segments of all types, noise is becoming shrill over FAA’s demand that you install Automatic Dependent Surveillance – Broadcast equipment which not only receives but sends information. The phrase is such a mouthful that everyone just says, “ADS-B Out” though that is still a mysterious abbreviation to anyone not deeply attuned to aviation instruments.
Most alphabet organizations and many aviation writers have been outspoken about the challenges faced by owners of Type Certified aircraft. A chorus of lament wails about the high equipment cost (several thousand dollars) and high installation cost coupled with what is often described as an impossible situation. According to many experts, the number of aircraft needing ADS-B Out equipment is so great that maintenance centers no longer have time to install the equipment before the deadline.
Well, that is a troubling TC-aircraft dilemma but LSA and light kit aircraft owners recently got relief from the onerous requirement. FAA indicated that EAB homebuilt aircraft and LSA do not need to use TSO (Technical Standard Order) gear. “Non-TSO” means a piece of equipment is not certified, however, one company sells devices that are nearly identical except that they do not not have the FAA TSO approval. Why is this good for you?
The TSO NavWorx box is already the most economical option for GA aircraft owners, with their ADS600-B unit priced at $2,399 before installation. Yet now LSA owners can meet FAA mandate for less than 30% of that price! Sometimes it is good to be an LSA or light EAB owner, right?
Yep, for only $699 you can install the same hardware components as Type Certified aircraft must install while saving $1,700 (or even more compared to equipment from other providers). This is a crystal-clear indication of the cost of certification. Take a component and add 2.4 times the hardware expense merely to have documents (and the testing they imply) that proves it will work reliably in your TC airplane. This example is repeated throughout the LSA world, where non-certified aircraft boast an “acceptable” safety record — using FAA’s preferred term for LSA safety — while featuring far lower prices. Sure, some LSA are still rather expensive but even the priciest are a fraction of their equivalent from the certified world.
Most owners are still going to have to pay a qualified mechanic to install the ADS600-EXP and some knowledgeable persons suggest installation could cost as much as the $699 NavWorx box. You’ll also need an antenna, which NavWorx sells for $90-500.
However, the Rowlett, Texas company has another great idea, with more letters you need to learn.
NavWorx also offer their PADS-B with the “P” standing for “Portable.” PADS-B transmits full ADS-B Out, while receiving all traffic and weather around your aircraft. Owner Bill Moffitt said, “We took the design straight out of our TSO/STC certified ADS600-B product, miniaturized it, and created the PADS-B.” As with the ADS600-EXP, PADS-B is not TSO’d.
ADS-B receiver-only devices do not show all the traffic near you, said Moffitt. “FAA only sends traffic to your aircraft if you have ADS-B OUT.” Users of ADS-B In equipment get traffic but it must be relayed from ground equipment or other aircraft, which is not as dependable. Moffitt said you need not compromise your safety using a receiver-only device for traffic because you can buy NavWorx PADS-B and “rest assured that the FAA is sending you traffic.”
Even better is that PADS-B comes with zero installation cost. “Plug it in, place it on the glare-shield, and start receiving traffic and weather instantly,” said Moffitt. Additionally PADS-B will send the full dataset to your iPad or Android app. He noted, “PADS-B works with WingX, iFly, Naviator, eKneeboard, Avilution and others but it does not work with proprietary, closed applications like Garmin and ForeFlight.” PADS-B is fully self-contained with no external antenna that needs to be mounted; GPS and Wifi antennae are built-in.
NavWorx PADS-B sells for $999 but other than shipping that is your total cost to meet FAA’s mandate. PADS-B will be available starting March 7, 2015.