Jan. 30, 2004 — Installing panel-mounted GPS units has become simpler for most general aviation aircraft owners, thanks to efforts by AOPA. As the direct result of a summit meeting hosted by AOPA last spring, the FAA published an advisory circular (AC 20-138a — Airworthiness Approval of Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS) Equipment) late last week, which makes simple GPS installations the same as any other navigation system.
At the meeting, AOPA and the Aircraft Electronics Association told the FAA that installation costs were one of the biggest obstacles to widespread adoption of GPS by general aviation. The FAA agreed with the associations that the installation requirements needed to be simplified.
"This policy shift allows a shop to install a basic GPS navigation system as a minor alteration, meaning there's no need for an FAA field approval first," said AOPA Senior Director of Advanced Technology Randy Kenagy. "That reduces the cost, the amount of work, and aircraft down time, which directly benefits the typical general aviation aircraft owner."
Since the early 1990s, AOPA has been the voice of advocacy for general aviation's use of GPS for both instrument and visual flight operations. The association works to ensure that the full capabilities of GPS are used and that the emerging technologies are affordable.