First rule-compliant ADS-B transmitter approved for GA

Cessna 172 STC in the works

October 20, 2011

The FAA has approved the manufacture of FreeFlight Systems’ RANGR FDL-978TX Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast (ADS-B) transmitter, the company announced Oct. 13.

The technical standard order (TSO) authorization marks the first approval of a unit that meets the standards for general aviation ADS-B Out equipment that will be required by 2020 in all airspace that currently requires a transponder. The company tested the unit in the helicopter environment and is working on a supplemental type certificate (STC) to allow for its installation on Cessna 172s.

"For the RANGR FDL-978-TX to be the first ADS-B 978 MHz UAT to be TSO'ed to the FAA final rule is extremely exciting for FreeFlight Systems,” said Tim Taylor, president of FreeFlight Systems. “Our mission is to be the leader in NextGen Avionics and this is an important stepping stone.”

ADS-B Out provides air traffic controllers and other equipped aircraft with data on an aircraft’s course, speed, and altitude. The GPS-based technology has the ability to provide ATC coverage to areas that have no radar coverage, such as the Gulf of Mexico.

FreeFlight is offering the RANGR FDL-978TX unit at the introductory price of $3,995 for orders placed between now and April; the “street price” will be $4,295, the company said. The total street price including install kit, control head, RANGR antenna, WAAS GPS, and WAAS antenna will be $9,590; the introductory pricing waives the install kit and comes to a total of $7,490. The company said it will offer an upgrade for those who purchase the transmitter to a low-cost transceiver. With that, customers would be able to receive the benefits of ADS-B In, which include datalink weather and traffic.

“FreeFlight Systems’ goal is to provide a low cost certified ADS-B solution for the general aviation market," said Jessica Power, FreeFlight director of sales and marketing. "Customers will soon see the benefits of free datalink weather and active traffic for half the cost of competing technologies and with no monthly subscription fees. General aviation pilots get immediate benefit from the system. In addition to the datalink services, ADS-B provides improved flight following, enhanced Search and Rescue and increases your visibility within the airspace system—all significantly enhancing safety."