Plane & Pilot
Tuesday, November 5, 2013

ADS-B From Portable Equipment


SkyGuardTWX Vision-Pro and Adventure Pilot iFly 720


I discussed this with Adventure Pilot's Shane Woodson and SkyGuardTWX's Don Houtz, who both use these devices in their airplanes. SkyGuard has a remote receiver antenna option that allows you to move the device off the glareshield, and if you have (or can rig) 12/28-volt power in the baggage compartment, putting the Vision-Pro there will let you use all your passenger seats. Houtz told me he plans to offer a remote mounting kit for those who want to permanently install the Vision-Pro, which will support external antennas.

There are no power switches, so it's best to physically disconnect both the Vision-Pro and iFly before engine start or shutdown (I just pulled the splitter out of the cigarette lighter). SkyGuardTWX doesn't provide any mounting hardware for the Vision-Pro. I improvised with Duct tape. The Vision Pro is configured using software (either a sub menu on the iFly or SkyGuardTWX's iPad/iPhone app). I was surprised to find the transmitter is on by default, even before you've entered your N-number and the associated ICAO code. Houtz agreed that ought to be changed. The software also would allow a user to change the N-number/ICAO code in-flight, which could present a
security issue.

If ATC assigns you a squawk code, you'll need to set it twice—both on your Mode-C transponder and using software to configure the Vision-Pro. Exactly that sort of thing created problems in early FAA "Project Capstone" tests of ADS-B in Alaska, and led to a recommendation (though not currently a requirement) for ADS-B out systems to offer a single control to set a squawk for both ADS-B and Mode-C.

The final issue for this setup is regulatory: While SkyGuardTWX has received FCC approval for the Vision-Pro (otherwise it would be illegal to turn the transmitter on), it has not as yet received FAA certification, though Houtz told me he's working toward that goal. If the FAA doesn't certify it, you'd have to buy something else to meet the 2020 ADS-B out mandate.

In the meantime, if you want to have full ADS-B in/out functionality, the Vision-Pro looks like the least expensive way to achieve it, and if you don't already have an iPad (or want another screen for dedicated traffic display), the iFly 720 is a good option for $699.

Adventure Pilot sells both the Vision-Pro and iFly 720 in a bundle for $1,994, and the Vision-Pro by itself for $1,399 if you already have an iFly. An additional $400 will get you the Vision-Pro with an integrated AHRS. Visit www.iFlyGPS.com and www.skyguardtwx.com.



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