The FAA announced in an Oct. 27 news release that the agency has proposed a $3,685,000 civil penalty against NavWorx Inc. of Rowlett, Texas, for allegedly producing and selling Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast (ADS-B) transceivers that did not meet FAA requirements, and for allegedly misleading customers about those products.
ADS-B uses GPS satellites instead of ground-based radar to determine aircraft position, and the FAA has mandated ADS-B Out equipage for flights after Jan. 1, 2020, in airspace where a transponder is required today.
However, a message posted on the NavWorx website Oct. 19 said the company has closed its doors. NavWorx had been trying to certify a modified Gen 2.0 UAT using a different, third-party WAAS GPS position source. Unable to do so, the company said that it was unable to sell the ADS600-B or provide AD updates, and had ceased operations.
“NavWorx categorically denies any violation of the regulations,” NavWorx founder Bill Moffitt told AOPA Oct. 30. “All activities taken were compliant with FAA’s own policies and always approved by the FAA. NavWorx always strived to provide a product that was above the FAA’s minimum safety standards. We are dismayed by the FAA’s letter that proposes violations.”
The FAA sent the letter proposing the civil penalty on Sept. 14, but Moffitt said the threat of a fine was not the reason he closed the company. “The sole reason for closing the company is that the FAA did not approve the third-party GPS as 14 CFR 91.227 compliant,” he said.
NavWorx ADS600-B units containing the uncertified internal GPS source “were never designed, nor manufactured to meet the January 1, 2020, ADS-B Out requirement in 14 CFR 91.227(c)(1)(v),” the FAA said in the letter proposing the fine. “NavWorx website advertisements omitted material information and made, or caused to be made, misleading statements,” the agency said.
According to the FAA, NavWorx produced 334 UATs contrary to its technical standard order authorization and is subject to a civil penalty not to exceed $13,066 for each violation of the federal aviation regulations. “After careful consideration of all available information, we are willing to accept $3,685,000 in settlement of this matter,” the agency wrote.
Civil penalty amounts often are negotiated between the parties. “In general, for a civil penalty of this size, the FAA does not have the authority to assess it, only to attempt to settle it,” said Ron Golden, AOPA deputy general counsel. “If efforts to settle it are not successful, it must be referred to the U.S. Attorney’s office for prosecution in U.S. District Court.”
In its press release, the FAA said it is “continuing to work with NavWorx customers to ensure the safety and accuracy of the affected products.” Three pilots have received FAA approval for alternative methods of compliance (AMOCs) for the AD, which allow the NavWorx UATs to be used with a variety of Garmin WAAS GPS navigators. The NexNav mini LRU GPS receiver also is approved as a position source; it has a list price of $1,996 through the end of December, when it increases to $2,180, and can be ordered through any Aspen authorized dealer.
The FAA also said it has been in communication with NavWorx about the case.