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uAvionix gets TSO for wingtip ADS-B

Innovative design should simplify installation

uAvionix announced that it received FAA technical standard order authorization late on Sept. 4 for its skyBeacon wingtip-mounted Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast-Out (ADS-B Out) hardware with integral position light. Actually, the skyBeacon product was issued a total of five TSOs: ADS-B (TSO-C154c, Class B1S); GPS position source (TSO-C145d, Class Beta 1); barometric altitude sensor (TSO-C88b), position light (TSO-C30c, Type I), and anticollision light (TSO-C96a, Class II).

Photo courtesy of uAvionix.

skyBeacon has already become popular in the experimental and Light Sport Aircraft (LSA) categories, and is expected to be hugely popular in the certified aircraft market, too,” said Ryan Braun, uAvionix chief operating officer. “Its speedy plug-and-play installation provides the lowest total installed cost of ownership ADS-B Out solution on the market.”

The addition of an altimeter—and the resulting fifth TSO—late in the certification process delayed the company’s original certification timeline, Braun explained. “The additional component makes the skyBeacon able to address a larger range of aircraft—specifically those with an existing Mode S transponder,” he said, adding that it “allows skyBeacon to provide pressure altitude to surrounding traffic and ATC regardless of the radar coverage.”

Braun said the company was driven to innovate new solutions by skyBeacon’s unique form factor. “This was especially true for the WAAS GPS, where no existing receiver could meet our size, cost, and performance needs. This meant both designing our own GPS, and working with the FAA to develop a new process for certification of complex COTS solutions. This will change the way avionics are developed and certified in the future, increasing technology and lowering cost.”

Photo courtesy of uAvionix.

“This was a magnificent effort by our entire team,” said Paul Beard, uAvionix CEO. “I have never seen a more dedicated, sustained, and high-intensity effort. The patience and guidance of the Chicago ACO and FAA headquarters staff, and feedback from our customers, has kept us pressing forward. Not only has a special product been created, but a roadmap for bringing similarly innovative and cost-effective technology to aircraft has been drawn.”

Garmin International filed suit against uAvionix in June, claiming that uAvionix is infringing on a Garmin patent with technology in the skyBeacon and other ADS-B hardware, AOPA learned in August. uAvionix disputes the allegation and said in a statement that the suit will not affect its certification or delivery of ADS-B hardware.

uAvionix expects to receive supplemental type certificate (STC) approval for for multiple Cessna and Piper aircraft within a few weeks, at which point the company will begin shipping pre-orders. STC paperwork has been submitted, Braun said, and the company is waiting for the go-ahead to perform a test flight using a Cessna 150; following some data analysis after the flight, the STC should be quickly approved.

A tech paper issued by the FAA last year and the referenced Installation Approval for ADS-B Out Systems memorandum explains how certified ADS-B hardware can be approved as a follow-on installation, based on a previously approved STC. After the initial STC, uAvionix said, subsequent skyBeacon installations can be performed on any “suitable aircraft”—any aircraft allowing installation without airframe modification—as a minor alteration, without an additional or airframe-specific STC.

The company also said it would move forward with TSO certification of its tailBeacon product, very similar to the wingtip-mounted skyBeacon but intended for installation on the aircraft’s tail.

Mike Collins

Mike Collins

Technical Editor
Mike Collins, AOPA technical editor and director of business development, died from COVID-19 at age 59 on February 25, 2021. He was an integral part of the AOPA Media team for nearly 30 years, and held many key editorial roles at AOPA Pilot, Flight Training, and AOPA Online. He was a gifted writer, editor, photographer, audio storyteller, and videographer, and was an instrument-rated pilot and drone pilot.
Topics: Avionics, ADSB

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