Plane & Pilot
Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Retrofit Roundup: 15 Hot Panel Upgrades

Add instant value and capability with our list of panel retrofit ideas

FreeFlight Systems ADS-B Solutions
FreeFlight Systems ADS-B Solutions
FreeFlight Systems offers complete low-cost solutions to make your aircraft fully ADS-B compliant using your existing avionics. Their all-in-one RANGR FDL-978-XVR UAT combines a 978 MHz UAT "ADS-B Out" transmitter, a WAAS GPS and an "ADS-B In" receiver that can display weather and traffic on your MFD or on an iPad via WiFi. Even cooler is the FreeFlight Systems' "ADS-B University," a set of seven free videos to bring you completely up to speed on what ADS-B is, why you need it and how it can make your flying safer. FreeFlight is running a special where orders placed and delivered by Dec. 31, 2014, are priced at $3,995 for a complete system, which saves $1,500 off of the $5,495 regular system price.

True Blue Power Dual USB Charging Port
True Blue Power Dual USB Charging Port
True Blue Power is a division of Mid-Continent Instruments. They've developed this ingenious little USB charging port that can be mounted in the panel or in the cabin. Each USB port on the 1.5-inch square unit is designed to supply the electric current needed to charge any standard or high-power device with a USB interface. The TA102 protects itself and the charging device from short circuits, power surges and over-current potential. Simultaneous charging of two devices is fully supported. It's available in lighted or non-lighted versions. Made in the USA with a two-year warranty. MSRP $449.

NextGen GA Fund

The NextGen General Aviation Fund has been established to support the rollout of the U.S. "NextGen" program, which enables updated air traffic information to both pilots and controllers. There are more than 150,000 general aviation aircraft requiring access to controlled airspace, and NextGen can't provide its promised benefits to the air traffic system unless these aircraft are participating with updated technology.

Given this fact, the United States Congress has authorized federal support of avionics equipment upgrades to address the needs of the general aviation community. The NextGen GA Fund will approve financing for individuals and businesses operating general aviation aircraft to upgrade with NextGen gear. The deadline for GA aircraft owners to comply with NextGen equipment requirements is Jan. 1, 2020.

The fund is a public-private partnership formed between the U.S. Government, the aerospace industry and the private sector investment community. Congress enacted this program by authorizing federal loan guarantees for NextGen aircraft equipage (equipment) in Section 221 of the Federal Aviation Administration Reauthorization Act of 2012. The NextGen GA Fund will initially bring approximately $550 million of financing capital, eventually supporting some $1.3 billion in recurring financings, to the general aviation sector over the coming years. The NextGen GA Fund estimates that this will enable the retrofit of tens of thousands of general aviation aircraft. The NextGen GA Fund is awaiting FAA approval of its application for federal loan guarantees.

In March, the NextGen GA Fund announced two partnership agreements with Pilot Bank and Madison Capital, LLC, to accelerate the rollout of NextGen by providing access to quick and affordable financial assistance to general aviation aircraft owners.

The NextGen GA Fund will finance FAA-approved NextGen avionics, including WAAS-capable GPS, ADS-B In, ADS-B Out, RNAV/RNP avionics, data communications, flat-panel displays, antennas, electronic components and instrument panel modifications, along with related installation and certification costs. Facilitated through the Aircraft Electronics Association (AEA), member repair stations will be able to easily refer customers to the NextGen GA Fund and to applicant processors, Pilot Bank and Madison Capital.

The application process is easy, with a minimum financing amount of $10,000. Owners will locate an AEA-member, FAA-certified repair station from and select the avionics package they want to install. The owner applies for financing through the repair station or web portal on the NextGen website ( Once approved, the owner takes the aircraft to the repair station, and the funds are distributed to the approved repair station. Financing terms will be, "attractive and highly competitive compared with conventional financing alternatives," according to the website.


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