FreeFlight ADS-B gets AML STC

Approved model list should streamline installations

March 20, 2014

The FAA has issued an approved model list supplemental type certificate (AML STC) for the RANGR FDL-978-XVR ADS-B In/Out Universal Access Transceiver (UAT), FreeFlight Systems announced March 20.

FreeFlight said that the UAT, approved for installation in most light general aviation aircraft, provides full ADS-B Out rule compliance using an existing Mode A/C or Mode S transponder. The system also receives ADS-B In data, TIS-B traffic information, and FIS-B graphical weather and other data for display on many cockpit multifunction displays—or on an Apple iPad using an optional serial-to-Wi-Fi converter. The company says that it is the smallest, lightest, and most affordable system available; is easy to install; and also is the first 978 MHz UAT certified for rotorcraft.

The AML STC will allow FreeFlight to progressively add additional aircraft makes and models to the STC, leveraging data where appropriate to streamline the process. To be added to the AML STC, an installation in that aircraft model must be validated. Once an aircraft is added, an owner can install the product under the STC, avoiding the time and expense that can be required with an FAA field approval.

“This AML approval is another significant milestone on the way toward modernizing the entire fleet of aircraft in the U.S. for the NextGen airspace system before the 2020 deadline,” said Tim Taylor, CEO of FreeFlight Systems. “We have worked hard to make installation of ADS-B systems quite straightforward, and this STC, which we make available to our customers at no charge, is a concrete example of that commitment.”

The STC also applies to the upgrade of up to 600 aircraft that participated in the development of ADS-B through the Capstone Program in Alaska. There, the FAA funded the installation of first-generation systems in exchange for pilot feedback to refine the technologies and determine performance requirements. The FAA committed to upgrading the avionics to meet the ADS-B Version 2 requirements. FreeFlight said it was selected as the supplier for these upgrades “after a lengthy, rigorous, industrywide competitive evaluation.”

Installations of the certified FreeFlight Systems UAT have begun in Alaska and will continue through 2014. Installation experience gained through the Capstone upgrades—in diverse aircraft containing a wide range of existing avionics—is expected to help the industry continue to develop efficient, cost-effective best practices for retrofitting more than 200,000 aircraft in the continental United States before the Jan. 1, 2020 equipage deadline, the company said.

FreeFlight participated in the Capstone Program and has been involved in the development of ADS-B, WAAS GPS, and related NextGen avionics for more than a decade. The company said that it developed the first rule-compliant ADS-B 978 MHz UAT to receive TSO approval, the first to receive STC approval in any aircraft, and the first approved for installation in airport ground vehicles.

Mike Collins

Mike Collins | Technical Editor, AOPA

Mike Collins has worked for AOPA’s media network since 1994. He holds a private pilot certificate with an instrument rating.