The FAA has granted supplemental type certification for installation of the Garmin GTX 345 ADS-B Out/In and GTX 335 ADS-B Out transponders in more than 60 helicopter models, Garmin International announced Nov. 16. The popular GTX 345 and GTX 335 are 1090-MHz Mode S transponders with the extended squitter capability that provides Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast (ADS-B) Out; built-in WAAS GPS position sources—which provide the accuracy required by the ADS-B rules—are optional and a good solution for aircraft that don’t already have a compatible position source that meets ADS-B requirements.
ADS-B uses GPS satellites instead of ground-based radar to determine aircraft location, and is a primary technology behind the FAA’s Next Generation Air Traffic Control System. The FAA has mandated ADS-B Out equipage beginning Jan. 1, 2020, for operations in airspace where a transponder is required today.
The transponders can be installed immediately on 64 FAR Part 27 helicopter models included on the STC’s approved model list. The AML includes a wide variety of Agusta, Airbus, Bell, Enstrom, Hughes/MD Helicopter, and Robinson models, as well as the Sikorsky 269C, 269C-1, and 269D light utility helicopters originally produced by Hughes and Schweizer Aircraft as the model 300.
The size and form factor of the GTX 345/335 are similar to those of many popular transponders in the fleet, which means that panel modifications are seldom required when upgrading to one of these transponders. While the GTX 335 provides ADS-B Out and complies with the FAA’s 2020 mandate, the GTX 345 adds utility by providing optional ADS-B In capabilities that allow ADS-B traffic and subscription-free weather to be displayed on select cockpit displays, as well as through wireless connections to some Garmin portables and Apple iPads running the popular Garmin Pilot and ForeFlight Mobile apps. Remote-mount versions of these transponders also are available; they can be controlled through Garmin’s GTN 650/750 touchscreen navigators.
ADS-B Out installations in helicopters do not qualify for the FAA’s $500 ADS-B rebate program, which went live Sept. 19. The rebate is limited to U.S.-registered, fixed-wing, single-engine piston aircraft whose operation requires an on-board pilot.
Both transponders boast a bright, sunlight-readable digital display that includes pressure altitude readout, dedicated buttons for numeric squawk code entry, and a built-in timer. The GTX 345 with its ADS-B In capability can integrate with the audio panel to provide ATC-like audible alerts, such as “Traffic: 10 o’clock, same altitude, two miles” to help pilots keep their eyes outside of the cockpit when looking for traffic. An optional altitude encoder is available and conveniently mounts on the back of the transponder for easy installation and service, precluding the need for an external altitude encoder.
Garmin’s TerminalTraffic provides a comprehensive picture of ADS-B-equipped aircraft and ground vehicles in the airport environment. Specifically designed for helicopter operations, nuisance alerts are minimized and abbreviated during unique helicopter maneuvers, such as hovering in the airport environment. When paired with the GTN 650/750, the GTX 345 supports On Scene mode, which minimizes in-flight nuisance traffic alerts when intentionally operating in close proximity to other helicopters, which can happen regularly during electronic news gathering and other operations.
The ADS-B In/Out GTX 345 transponder is available starting at $4,995, while pricing for the GTX 335 ADS-B Out transponder starts at $2,995; versions of each with a WAAS GPS position source—a desirable option for aircraft without compatible, rule-compliant GPS receivers—are available for an additional $800. Remote-mount versions are priced the same as the panel-mount transponders. For additional information, visit Garmin’s website.