We’re here to answer your ADS-B questions, and we know what they are, as well as what they aren’t. We’re starting with the latter. You already know that the deadline is near. In a matter of months. You already know what you need to do. Install ADS-B Out in your plane. You already know what that entails: a new ADS-B transponder or an upgrade to your existing one (this is not common) with a certified WAAS source. Lastly, you probably already know that your flight options will be pretty severely restricted without ADS-B. Forget about flying in Class Bravo or Charlie, flying above 10,000 feet in most of the nation and flying in most Class Echo airspace, as well.
Here are some questions you don’t know the answers to.
- Now that you’ve waited this long to equip, will you still be able to get it done in time?
- Are there any new options for equipping with ADS-B that didn’t exist back when you should have gotten going on this?
- With such a small percentage of the fleet equipped, will the FAA relent and give GA a break, extending the deadline or easing the ADS-B No-Fly Zone?
The answer to numbers one and two are the same: yes, no and maybe. Which is one of the greatest problems with putting things off until the last minute. You’ve procrastinated your way into a good deal of uncertainty. Do we have answers? We do. How sure are we of those answers? Just as with the Magic 8-Ball, you might be hoping for an answer like, “Reply hazy. Try again,” or even “Better not tell you,” but in this case, for the last one the answer seems pretty clear. There’s no way the FAA is going to extend the deadline. Come Jan. 1, 2020, if you’re not equipped, your options are instantly limited.
Is there good news for procrastinators? Well, I hate to say it, but kind of. The argument many pressed early on, that if they waited, better, cheaper ADS-B boxes might appear, has actually proven pretty spot on. The $250 ADS-B solution never happened and never will, but the prices have come down, and, even more, the value has gone up. Take Garmin’s new GNT 375, a full-fledged multifunction WAAS navigator that also does ADS-B. It’s not cheap, but you get so much more than a navigator and so much more than an ADS-B Out box. And up until early April, no one outside of Olathe knew it existed.
And there are newish alternatives that are less costly to install, too, mostly because they take less time to install. UAvionix’s wingtip ADS-B Out solution is a quick and easy install, or so the company claims. But even if it takes three times longer to install than it says, it’s still a quick install.
But Can You Still Find A Shop To Do This?
Okay, so you’ve waited until the ADS-B equipage deadline is less than six months away. The question is, even after you find that perfect box, will you be able to find a shop to install it? In some cases, if you’re lucky. But it’ll get harder the longer you wait, and not a little bit harder every day. We think it will be more like the way that hitting something when you’re going twice as fast doesn’t hurt twice as much but four times as much. When it comes to ADS-B, that thing you’ll be hitting is a brick wall, and the name of that brick wall is Jan. 1, 2020.
Our best advice? Check out these ADS-B solutions, make a decision, find a shop and make it happen right now, because if you’re going to get lucky, it’s probably not going happen on Nov. 28 (Turkey Day) and probably not on Dec. 25, and absolutely no ADS-B miracles will come to pass on Dec. 31, when people around the world will be saying “Happy New Year,” and among pilots, the happiest of those will be the ones with an ADS-B solution snug as a bug in their favorite plane’s panel.
ADS-B In and Out
Garmin GNX 375
Introduced this spring, the GNX 375 from Garmin is an all-in-one nav/ADS-B solution that provides premium features in a compact package. The touchscreen display, made for Class I and II aircraft as well as experimentals and homebuilts, features ADS-B Out through a 1090 MHz ES transponder, as well as a dual-link ADS-B In receiver. On top of the subscription-free weather and traffic that come with that, the GNX 375 provides a number of advanced nav capabilities, a key highlight being the ability to accommodate LPV approaches down to 200 feet. Creating flight plans is easy thanks to predictive text offered by the unit as you type, and Bluetooth allows fliers to share plans quickly between devices. The unit integrates with other Garmin displays and at 2 inches tall is also compatible with older course deviation indicators. MSRP for the GNX 375 is $7,995.
The Lynx NGT-9000 provides all the perks of ADS-B In and Out in an easy-to-use touchscreen format that packs a punch in terms of capabilities. The unit’s high-resolution, full-color display allows users to swipe between different pages of info—for example, one that shows NEXRAD weather, METARs, AIRMETs and SIGMETs, as well as a separate temps and winds aloft page. When viewing traffic, the Lynx allows users to see the type and groundspeed of nearby aircraft, and users have the option of adding ATAS for audible traffic alerts. Equipped with a 978/1090 dual-band receiver, the unit provides the necessary coverage for aircraft flying at any altitude, and the built-in WAAS GPS means no external GPS connection is required. Users can feed ADS-B traffic and weather to popular aviation apps via the Lynx’s WiFi connection. The unit starts at less than $5,500, with options for ATAS, eTAWS and other add-ons available at an additional cost.
FreeFlight RANGR 978
FreeFlight’s RANGR 978 line provides a time-tested and flexible option for pilots looking for ADS-B In, ADS-B Out or both. The series has been on the market for several years and offers boxes with or without internal GPS as well as an all-in-one dual-band solution. The TSO-certified units are all WiFi-equipped and pair with a vast array of apps, including ForeFlight, WingX Pro, Jeppesen FliteDeck and more, to bring sub-free weather and traffic. The units, which are available for a wide range of GA aircraft, are priced between $3,000 and $5,000.
Garmin GTX 345
The GTX 345 mode S 1090 extended squitter transponder from Garmin provides ADS-B Out and In in a comprehensive unit that checks all the key boxes for ADS-B benefits. The 1.65-inch transponder fits in a traditional stack opening and features a dual-link receiver, allowing fliers to take advantage of full ADS-B traffic and weather and stream it to portable devices. Optional WAAS GPS is available for pilots without a pre-existing unit in their panel, making the 345 fully compliant with the 2020 mandate. The unit, priced just under $5,000, also provides audible traffic and altitude alerts and can be configured using dual antennas for a diversity solution.
The skyBeacon is a great option for those looking for an ADS-B Out solution that won’t require the dismantling of the flight deck and expensive installation fees. The innovative product comes in the form of a nav light, meaning it can be installed in a matter of minutes by replacing a traditional aircraft position and strobe light. It features ADS-B Out via a UAT transmitter and a blade antenna, as well as integrated WAAS GPS and an altitude encoder. The skyBeacon works with any mode C or mode S transponder, and once it’s installed, users can configure it using uAvionix’s accompanying app. In some cases, a fairing is required for aircraft models for which the skyBeacon design isn’t compatible. With such quick installation and a price tag lower than $2,000, the skyBeacon proves a hassle-free and affordable way to meet the looming FAA mandate.
Stratus ES and ESG
Appareo has two solid options for ADS-B compliance in the form of the Stratus ES and ESG transponders. The former, priced at $2,495, provides ADS-B Out when paired with select navigators from Garmin and Avidyne, while the later provides WAAS GPS in the box for $500 more. The 1.65-inch transponder boxes were made for cockpits without glass, and they both make use of an aircraft’s existing altitude encoder and transponder antenna. The ESG requires the installation of a GPS antenna, which is included in the purchase price of the product. Both units connect with the Stratus 3i receiver to provide a full view of ADS-B weather and traffic.
Trig Avionics TT22
For those with minimal panel room to spare, the TT22 is a compact Mode S transponder that can fit into a 57-mm round instrument hole. The key to its space-saving design is that it comes in two components, one of which can be installed anywhere in the airframe. The TT22 includes an integrated altitude encoder and pairs with a number of different brand-name position sources, including units from Avidyne, FreeFlight, Aspen, Garmin and Trig, to provide ADS-B Out Compliance. The TT22, which is splash-proof and available for less than $2,000, features backlighting and allows users to manually adjust the brightness.
Garmin GDL 82
The GDL 82 from Garmin is a datalink with a built-in WAAS GPS that connects with an airplane’s existing mode A/C transponder to provide ADS-B Out compliance for aircraft flying under 18,000 feet. One of the more affordable ADS-B options on the market, the unit is incorporated into the transponder and antenna cabling in the underbelly of the aircraft, resulting in less downtime in comparison to panel ADS-B installations. The unit automatically transmits the squawk code and altitude from the aircraft’s transponder, making the aircraft ADS-B Out compliant. The unit is compatible with a number of ADS-B In units, such as the GDL 52 and GDL 39, providing pilots with a fuller traffic picture. The unit is priced at $1,795.
BendixKing KT 74
This slide-in mode S transponder is designed to take the place of the popular BendixKing KT 76 and KT 78 transponders. The KT 74 makes use of the previous unit’s mounting hardware and wiring harness, making installation of the new unit a much less timely and costly affair than it is for other products. The 74 broadcasts on the 1090 MHz frequency and pairs with a number of different GPS systems, such as those from Aspen, Garmin and, of course, BendixKing, in order to provide ADS-B Out compliance. With a sleek design and extra features, such as altitude alerts, the AKT 74 provides a clean and simple user interface. The unit is available for less than $2,500.
ADS-B In Portables
This portable ADS-B In receiver delivers FIS-B weather and dual-band traffic to a pilot’s ForeFlight app, along with a slew of other in-demand features for fliers looking to take full advantage of the benefits of ADS-B. The small $499 unit, which attaches to the aircraft via a quick-release suction cup and mount, includes a WAAS GPS, back-up attitude, weather replay and, uniquely for an ADS-B receiver, a CO monitor. The Sentry’s battery allows it to run for more than 12 hours on a single charge, and it can stream data via WiFi to up to five different devices.
Garmin GDL 50
The GDL 50 from Garmin provides a reliable ADS-B In receiver that pairs with a variety of different apps, including Garmin Pilot, FltPlan Go and Foreflight. The unit streams information via Bluetooth as opposed to Wi-Fi, and in addition to subscription-free weather, it provides traffic info via Garmin's Target Trend traffic awareness technology, which gives pilots a dynamic view of the aircraft surrounding them in relation to their own motion. The GDL 50 is also equipped with GPS and attitude sensors that enable use of synthetic vision. The unit, priced at $749, can run up to eight hours before it will need a recharge.
Like the Sentry, the XGPS190 provides traffic and weather for popular aviation apps via a dual-band receiver, along with WAAS GPS and AHRS, which allows users to utilize synthetic vision on their devices. The unit is compatible with a variety of different apps, such as FlyQ, WingX and others, and can connect to two different devices at once via Bluetooth. The XGPS190 features a removable antenna and can run for up to five hours in ADS-B mode. The unit comes with a price tag of $699.99.