South Africa’s proposed ADS-B regulations will require all IFR aircraft and any that operate above 10,000 ft to be equipped with an ADS-B transceiver. Most options out there come with a nasty price tag. But uAvionix is developing small, more affordable, and easy to install options.
The name, uAvionix, hints at the company’s origins. Integrating difficult to see drones into manned aircraft airspace is a primary concern for aviation authorities around the world. uAvionix’s solution is to develop small ADS-B transceivers for drones. With the FAA mandating all aircraft operated in controlled airspace be fitted with ADS-B by 2020 – and the rest of the world expected to follow suit – making drones and aircraft equally visible to ATC, through ADS-B, makes sense. Pilots flying with ADS-B In will also be able to see the drones pop up on their screens in the cockpit.
From there, it’s a logical step to bring this technology to the general aviation world. The company already has a number of ADS-B products to choose from – some options use suction cups, USB power, and your favourite cockpit app to bring ADS-B In to the cockpit, while others will provide full FAA 2020 compliance at a far more appealing cost than most other ADS-B options by integrating with avionics already installed in your plane. Have a look at their ‘Scout’ and ‘echoUAT’.
But for simplicity, little beats uAvionix’s SkyBeacon. It combines an LED position light with the all-important ADS-B Out capability. So, installing it is simply a matter of replacing your wingtip position light. The existing wiring and circuit breaker provide power – no airframe modifications or additional antennas are required. The WAAS, or Wide Area Augmentation System, GPS is positioned near the top of the wing, offering an unobstructed view of the sky, while the UAT antenna remains clear of the airframe and is vertically polarised. Upon initial power up, the SkyBeacon mobile application will automatically configure the ICAO address, emitter type, aircraft length, width and GPS offsets by accessing the aircraft registration information.
The transceiver broadcasts on the UAT/978 MHz frequency, offering rule compliant operation up to FL180 in the US. SkyBeacon is pending certification via approved model list (AML) for STC’d installation.
SkyBeacon will be available in the USA at the beginning of 2018 for experimental and light sport aircraft, and uAvionix says an optional matching companion position light will be available to provide ADS-B In capability. uAvionix doesn’t have a firm price yet, but expects it to cost about US$1400 to US$1500. Aerial Vision Africa currently supplies uAvionix products in South Africa, but focusses on drones.