Well, you can. In fact, the number of shops offering reserved ADS-B installation slots is increasing.
Custom Avionics at Bartow Municipal Airport in Bartow, Florida, appears to have been the first avionics shop to promote this idea. In December 2015 it announced the Early Register program, targeting owners of small and mid-size aircraft and guaranteeing ADS-B installation before the deadline. A $500 deposit holds scheduled shop time for the customer’s ADS-B installation. “Of course, that applies to the job itself,” said Larry Williams, owner of Custom Avionics.
“I think the program has been successful so far,” Williams said. “It’s getting people to look at [the ADS-B mandate] a little differently. I do think it has created a greater focus on custom avionics.” The company focuses on providing its customers with options, as well as good service, he added.
Williams finds that many customers think equipment costs will continue to fall, and that there’s lots of time remaining before the 2020 deadline. “There isn’t as much time as you think,” he said. A scheduled installation slot could allow the customer to benefit if prices do fall, however. “And it does make sure you have a way to be compliant before the deadline.”
Customers appreciate the functionality and situational awareness provided by ADS-B In when equipped, Williams added. “Once you’ve got it, people like it. There are a lot of reasons why you should equip, other than that the government is making you.”
FAA Administrator Michael Huerta mentioned the Custom Avionics program during his talk at the Aircraft Electronics Association’s annual convention in Orlando during April. “We encourage you to be creative marketers,” he told the audience of avionics installers and manufacturers.
Custom Avionics said the program locks in the installation price, protecting aircraft owners from higher costs as the deadline gets closer; it also allows owners to preorder ADS-B hardware and pay for it over time, rather than paying a larger lump sum. More information about the Early Register Program is available online or by calling (863)-533-1575.
On July 5, Wipaire Inc. announced a two-part program designed to make ADS-B Out compliance easier for general aviation aircraft owners. Owners can request a quote by completing a simple questionnaire on the Wipaire website; at EAA AirVenture in Oshkosh, Wisconsin; or at other aviation events. Based on the information provided, Wipaire’s avionics staff will create three quotes for each aircraft, encompassing a range of functionality options.
Then, aircraft owners and operators may pay a deposit—which will be credited against their ADS-B installation invoice—to select and reserve an installation slot. Wipaire said shop slots are available from August 2016 through December 2018 in the company’s South St. Paul, Minnesota, and Leesburg, Florida, locations. Avionics selections must be finalized no later than 60 days before the aircraft arrives at the scheduled Wipaire location. While installation times may vary based upon the equipment selected, the company said most GA installations can be completed in only one to two weeks.
“Make no mistake about it, there is not enough shop capacity to retrofit all of the affected aircraft by January 1, 2020,” said Steve Fuchs, Wipaire’s senior director of aircraft services. “Utilizing our slot system, owners can ensure available capacity and prevent down time before 2020 arrives.”
“We understand that figuring out how to become ADS-B compliant is complicated and confusing for many pilots and owners,” said Rick Wahlman, avionics manager at Wipaire’s South St. Paul headquarters. “Our goal is to make the process as simple as possible by collecting aircraft information and then leveraging our many relationships with leading avionics manufacturers to present custom-tailored solutions to the owner.”
Jeremy Warner, avionics supervisor at the company’s Leesburg service center, agreed. “Every aircraft owner or operator’s mission is a little different. We’re here to gain an understanding of what each individual needs their aircraft to do, and to make smart recommendations to fit their mission.”
Deposit prices through Dec. 31 are $1,500 for 2016 installation slots; $2,500 for 2017 shop slots; and $3,500 for 2018 slots. To kick off the program, Wipaire is offering a Lightspeed Zulu PFX active noise reduction headset—worth $1,175—to the first five customers who make slot deposits; the headset will be delivered with the aircraft upon completion.
For more than 55 years, Wipaire has engineered and manufactured a line of aircraft floats, for aircraft ranging in size from the Piper Cub to the DHC-6 Twin Otter. The company holds supplemental type certificates for more than 100 modifications that it has engineered to improve performance, convenience, and reliability. Avionics is nothing new to Wipaire, which started its avionics department in 1989. The company has relationships with ADS-B manufacturers including Appareo, Avidyne, Aspen Avionics, Bendix/King, FreeFlight Systems, Garmin International, and L-3 Avionics. The company said a variety of other services may be combined with avionics work to minimize aircraft down time, including maintenance, paint, and interior refurbishment.
Wipaire said it would work with aircraft owners to select ADS-B equipment in advance, and then ensure their installation date is scheduled within 90 days of the rebate reservation, according to the rules for the FAA rebate program. To accelerate ADS-B installation, the FAA announced a limited-quantity $500 rebate slated to become available beginning in the fall of 2016. The company also said it would consider $500 instant rebates currently available from FreeFlight Systems and Avidyne in the options it presents to customers.
More information is available on the Wipaire website.