FAA approves wingtip device 'cradle' for some aircraft

November 14, 2013

The FAA has issued a supplemental type certificate (STC) for an aircraft device cradle that provides a way for owners of many popular Piper and Cessna aircraft to attach electronic devices to their aircraft’s wingtips. A streamlined approval process for wingtip-mounted electronic devices to be used with the cradle was also developed during the approval process, said the cradle’s manufacturer.

"The cradle is a silicone rubber component that glues onto airplane wing tips, providing an attachment technique for electronic devices," explained Bob Carpenter, CEO of Sammamish, Wash.-based CarpenterDev, the manufacturer. "This allows any manufacturer of equipment, for example strobes, cameras, avionics sensors, and others, that want to install equipment on certified airplanes, without going through the complex FAA certification process themselves, a means of accomplishing" an approved installation.

Electronic devices that transmit information to an iPad app or other system would do so using Bluetooth or similar technology, he said.

The STC issued by the FAA to CarpenterDev applies to all models of the Cessna 172, Cessna 182, Piper PA-28, and PA-32 airplanes, Carpenter said.  

The STC requires that "equipment providing flight guidance information including attitude, altitude, heading, navigation, angle of attack, or speed information cannot be installed without separate FAA approval."

In a phone interview, Carpenter said a streamlined process arranged for approvals provides a means for device manufacturers to submit their products to a test facility where they would be checked for interference with critical radio frequencies.

The devices Carpenter discussed in his announcement of the cradle’s approval may not be the only ones that his product might support someday, if the future he envisions for the aircraft device cradles pans out, following the 18-month process of winning STC and parts manufacturer approval from the FAA.

"It’s going to be up to people to come up with innovative devices," because the cradle could serve as mounting for "any device that benefits from sitting out on a wingtip," he said

In a longer-range marketing effort, CarpenterDev, founded in 1999 as a niche-market developer of electro-mechanical products, is seeking to team with makers of handheld electronic flight information systems and aviation software for iPads and other devices to add the wireless air-data system sensors made by CarpenterDev to their offerings.