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ADS-B on glass


The challenges with integrated flight decks

Aircraft with integrated flight decks that incorporate large cockpit displays, such as the Garmin G1000 and Avidyne Entegra, are best positioned to display optional Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast In traffic and weather information. But their path to compliance with the FAA’s approaching ADS-B Out deadline often is less clear than for aircraft with more traditional avionics installations.

The manufacturers of piston aircraft with integrated flight decks are working with the avionics manufacturers on solutions—or choices of solutions—for their customers, and they’re well aware of the January 1, 2020, mandate.

For many of these aircraft, an ADS-B Out solution will be easier to accomplish than a fully integrated ADS-B In solution, meaning one that’s capable of displaying ADS-B’s Flight Information Service-Broadcast (FIS-B) and Traffic Information Service-Broadcast (TIS-B) on multifunction displays. But manufacturers are committing to the availability of solutions for both ADS-B Out and In that can be certified and installed in advance of the deadline.

The challenge with integrated flight decks

Updating an integrated flight deck is much more complex than updating or replacing a standalone GPS navigator or any other single box in an aircraft panel. “With a single box—a single product—there’s not a lot of integration with other things in the airplane,” said Phil Straub, Garmin’s vice president and managing director of aviation. Avionics in an aircraft with an integrated flight deck often become part of the aircraft’s type certificate, requiring more work for an update than the typical supplemental type certificate (STC) process.

With an integrated flight deck, “you have an array of tentacles” that reach out to other aircraft equipment, Straub said. As a result, the type certificate holder and the avionics manufacturer must work together on upgrades.

Pilots appreciate the large, crisp displays in a G1000, but they won’t tell you anything without the GIA 63. Garmin calls this an Integrated Avionics Unit; think of it as a data router on a computer network. “It also does other things. The VHF nav receiver’s in there. The VHF com receiver’s in there. The GPS receiver’s in there,” Straub said. Flight director computations are done in the GIA 63, and it communicates with autopilot control servos through a digital communications link.

“We have to be careful that we don’t independently modify software or hardware in one of these boxes that might break a communication link. Think of it like an orchestra.” Straub said changes also must comply with a number of standards and tests that didn’t exist when some of the first integrated flight decks were certified.

As a result, the type certificate holder has to look at how changes within the G1000 will affect everything. Because changes require so much testing, airframe manufacturers often decide to add features or fix bugs with every update. “Then it turns into a certification program that takes a little effort to get done,” Straub said.

The majority of G1000 aircraft have been delivered with ADS-B Out-capable transponders, which provide a straightforward solution for the Out requirement. (The transponder also must be receiving a WAAS GPS signal.) Garmin understands that ADS-B Out compliance alone doesn’t cut it, though, he said. “Everybody wants to get the benefits of ADS-B In. The aircraft manufacturers are at different stages of incorporating the GDL 88 for ADS-B In.”

Some early G1000 installations are not WAAS-compatible. Most have a service bulletin path to upgrade to a WAAS GPS, Straub said, but doing so can present interface issues with non-Garmin autopilots. “Some of these variances can increase the cost of what it takes to go from a non-WAAS G1000 to a WAAS. People generally know it’s an option, but they don’t want to incur that cost.”

Garmin also is working on aftermarket solutions that could use an approved model list STC process, especially in cases where manufacturers don’t step in—like older Columbia aircraft, for example. “We want to make sure we don’t abandon anyone,” Straub explained. “And we want to get information as much as possible on the G1000 displays.”

A different approach

The situation is a little different for owners of aircraft that left the factory with Avidyne glass cockpits. “All of our integrated flight decks were installed at OEMs,” said Tom Harper, Avidyne’s marketing director. “We have a huge installed base of 4,000-plus Cirruses,” plus a bunch of Pipers and some Columbia aircraft, for which Avidyne fulfills aftermarket demand.

Avidyne did the engineering for the avionics STCs, which Cirrus and Piper then added to the type certificates for aircraft with Avidyne integrated flight decks. “On Release 7 we code-merged all of our OEM differences, so going forward, we could update everyone at once,” Harper said. “We’ll go do STCs for each of these OEMs so they can upgrade and get ADS-B into their Entegra suites.”

For Entegra installations, ADS-B Out is independent of the rest of the system. For the required position source, the dual Garmin GNS 430s can be upgraded to WAAS if they haven’t already—or replaced with Avidyne’s IFD440. Upgrading the Mode S transponder to extended squitter provides for ADS-B Out. Some owners are replacing the panel-mount transponder with a remote-mount unit, freeing up enough panel space to replace the two GNS 430s with an IFD440 and an IFD540, which features a larger screen, Harper said.

Integrated ADS-B In should be available later this year for Entegra 8, Harper added. “That will add the ability to display ADS-B traffic and weather on the big glass.” Owners will have to install a 978 UAT receiver to get the data; those with satellite weather capability or active traffic systems like Skywatch will have to decide which data to display on the MFD and on the navigator displays.

Owners who have upgraded to Entegra Release 9—which entailed new hardware and software—can expect a software upgrade allowing display of ADS-B In data at the end of this year or in early 2016, Harper said.


At EAA AirVenture, Cirrus Aircraft distributed an information sheet outlining the ADS-B status of all of its G1000-equipped aircraft, broken down by model year and, when necessary, aircraft serial number.

Cirrus Perspective-equipped aircraft from mid-2010 and later already are ADS-B Out compliant. For others, installing a Universal Access Transceiver or upgrading the transponder to 1090ES will provide ADS-B Out capability; for many, adding a Garmin GDL 88 UAT will provide ADS-B In.

Cirrus does not have a firm schedule for integrating the GDL 88, required to show ADS-B In data on the Perspective cockpit displays. “That is on the near-term roadmap but we don’t have a date,” said Ivy McIver, Cirrus’ SR products manager. The transponder upgrades or replacements to 1090ES, allowing ADS-B Out, are available now, she said.

Updates will be communicated to Cirrus owners through the company website and through service bulletins, she said.


Current production aircraft, those that have come off the manufacturing line in the past two years or so, already are ADS-B Out and In compliant, said Kelly Peters, Piper Aircraft’s senior avionics electrical engineer and software lead—except for the Matrix, which has a defined path forward.

For many of the 80,000 older Pipers in the fleet today, solutions exist. “There are some STCs available that offer some degree of integration,” she said, acknowledging that some owners want fully integrated solutions. “The team here is investigating a cost-effective solution for them,” talking with the avionics manufacturers. “We probably could come up with a solution pretty quickly, but it might be cost-prohibitive.” Piper is very concerned about making the cost affordable, she said. “That’s paramount to us.”

The company does not have a firm time frame for those owners today, but expects to offer one in the near term.


“The conversation does migrate to ADS-B In. The path to ADS-B Out is more direct,” said Doug May, Textron Aviation’s vice president for piston aircraft. Many customers ask about the display of ADS-B In data on a handheld device, or integrated into the G1000 system.

“Textron Aviation’s focus is on achieving solutions for an integrated solution for all of our WAAS and non-WAAS G1000s,” from both the Cessna and Beechcraft product lines. “As a team we’re working toward having solutions in a timeframe where our customer base has time to review the options before them, consider the options, and schedule an installation with the shop of their choice before the 2020 deadline.

“We’ll be looking at both amended TCs as well as STCs, not only for this change but for other changes we have for the product line,” May continued. On a highly integrated system like the G1000, a change typically includes more than just one item. While the specifics will vary with product lines, “the intention is to provide an ADS-B integrated solution for the fleet of G1000 aircraft,” with ADS-B In data displayed on integrated flight displays, he said.

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Mike Collins

Mike Collins

Technical Editor
Mike Collins, AOPA technical editor and director of business development, died at age 59 on February 25, 2021. He was an integral part of the AOPA Media team for nearly 30 years, and held many key editorial roles at AOPA Pilot, Flight Training, and AOPA Online. He was a gifted writer, editor, photographer, audio storyteller, and videographer, and was an instrument-rated pilot and drone pilot.

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