uAvionix Corp. is selling its tailBeacon EXP at an introductory price of $1,649, the company announced Aug. 13. TailBeacon EXP currently is available only for installation on experimental and light sport aircraft; uAvionix said it plans to seek FAA technical standard order (TSO) certification as soon as another product, the wingtip-mounted skyBeacon, receives TSO approval.
The Bigfork, Montana-based company got its start developing small, lightweight Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast (ADS-B) transceivers, transponders, and GPS receivers for the small unmanned aircraft systems (sUAS) market. At EAA AirVenture in July 2017 it announced skyBeacon, an easily installed ADS-B Out transmitter that replaces an aircraft’s existing left wingtip position light. The company said that installation should require only removing and replacing three screws, and connecting a couple of wires—taking only minutes.
The company is still awaiting FAA TSO approval for the skyBeacon, which it had hoped to receive in time for EAA AirVenture in July. Although the company previously expressed a hope for approval earlier this year, the certification program has expanded significantly since it began. First, uAvionix decided to pursue full TSO approval, rather than an alternative means of certification. Second, skyBeacon actually will include five separate TSOs: ADS-B (TSO C-154c, Class B1S), WAAS GPS (TSO-C145d, Class Beta 1), and barometric pressure altitude sensor (TSO-C88b)—as well as for the wingtip LED position light and its integral LED anticollision light. The certification package was submitted to the FAA in July, the company said.
“We are beyond confident in skyBeacon,” said Ryan Braun, uAvionix COO. “While we ramp up our manufacturing of skyBeacon in anticipation of pending FAA approval, our confidence in the product line has never been higher.”
The company announced the tailBeacon and displayed a working prototype at the Aircraft Electronics Association convention in March 2018. Installation of the tailBeacon involves only two screws and two wires, to remove the existing tail position light and replace it with a tailBeacon, uAvionix said. “With the introduction of skyBeacon, we received feedback from many pilots who simply couldn’t fit it on their wing,” said Paul Beard, uAvionix CEO. “The tailBeacon is meant to address those aircraft that skyBeacon can’t reach—such as newer aircraft with enclosed wingtip position lights.”
“Conversations with customers at AirVenture reinforced how powerful the one-two punch of skyBeacon and tailBeacon will be,” Braun added. “The choice of form factors makes for a cost-effective and simple-to-install solution for an overwhelming majority of aircraft. By leveraging skyBeacon’s development effort, tailBeacon demonstrates how flexible and advanced avionics can benefit the consumer.”
The tailBeacon is essentially a skyBeacon with different antenna designs, to meet the needs of the unique form factor, and a position light only; there is no anticollision strobe. “The tailBeacon is nearly a carbon copy of skyBeacon. As this is largely a repackaging effort—we expect certification to be achieved very quickly,” Braun said, adding that the company has been preparing the TSO package for tailBeacon and plans to submit it to the FAA as soon as skyBeacon approval is received.