The new “Sentry” Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast (ADS-B) receiver is about the size of a cigarette pack.
And if someone were actually smoking cigarettes in the tight confines of a general aviation cockpit, the Sentry’s built-in carbon monoxide detector would surely sound its alarm.
Sentry is an upmarket, full-featured ADS-B In box that sells for $500. It offers a 12-hour internal battery, CO detection, synthetic vision, in-cockpit weather, and traffic information.
“The safety benefits of ADS-B are obvious and we want every pilot to have them,” said Tyson Weihs, ForeFlight co-founder and CEO. “There’s a price point for every pilot, and Sentry fits right in the middle.”
Sentry comes with a suction cup mount, a USB charging cable, and a padded carrying case. Pairing with an iPhone or iPad is done wirelessly via the Sentry’s internal Wi-Fi signal and ForeFlight app.
Sentry should be mounted vertically on a side window where the pilot can see the unit’s LED lights, which turn green when it’s powered up and receiving GPS and ADS-B signals. (The CO detector light is green in clean air.) ForeFlight confirms its wireless connection with “Sentry, Good” in the top left corner of the Maps screen.
In flight, the dual-band receiver shows subscription-free weather and ADS-B-equipped airplanes. Like all GPS receivers, the traffic picture is limited unless you’re in an aircraft that actively pings the system via an ADS-B Out transponder.
Flying with Sentry, or any fully functioning ADS-B receiver, so greatly enhances pilot situational awareness that it’s hard to believe we ever got by without it. The ability to identify traffic beyond visual range, monitor changing weather conditions, and avoid terrain vastly increases flight safety and enjoyment.
The Sentry (which only works with ForeFlight) is a powerful new tool that pilots will find simple and fun to fly with—and its long battery life makes it particularly useful in airplanes that don’t have USB charging outlets (or electrical systems).
Only half of ForeFlight’s current subscribers connect to ADS-B devices in flight—and Weihs said that’s sure to change as the FAA’s 2020 mandate draws nearer, and pilots who have seen the benefits of subscription-free weather and traffic signals get accustomed to having them.
“I can’t imagine living without cell phones, and I can’t imagine flying without ADS-B,” he said. “The information they provide is just essential.”