uAvionix launches space-based ADS-B

New transponder for general aviation, urban air mobility

While uAvionix continues to accumulate data validating the performance of its tailBeaconX with certification for general aviation and urban air mobility in mind, experimental aircraft owners get the first crack at this space-based surveillance solution.

The tailBeaconX ADS-B transponder is designed for space-based surveillance. Photo courtesy of uAvionix.

The Montana company looks to build on the inroads already made into the GA fleet by its tailBeacon and skyBeacon products with tailBeaconX, a new iteration of those popular ADS-B transponders that integrates with the firm’s panel avionics as well as with Aireon’s satellite-based ADS-B global air traffic surveillance network. This new product has been field-tested with help from the Canadian Owners and Pilots Association, Nav Canada, Aireon, and Caribbean Air Rally participants—uAvionix was an event sponsor and equipped participants in the 11-day GA island tour with tailBeaconX transponders, the company noted in a February 18 news release.

The tailBeaconX was pitched as “the first transponder to be specifically evaluated by Aiereon and Nav Canada,” and “early tests are showing promise toward meeting performance requirements for ATC-quality surveillance data for GA aircraft.”

Priced at $2,499 for installation in noncertified aircraft, tailBeaconX can for the time being be integrated with the experimental aircraft versions of the uAvionix AV-20-E multifunction display and AV-30-E electronic flight instrument system. Technical standard order and supplemental type certificate approvals clearing tailBeaconX for installation and integration in certified aircraft are expected to arrive in the second quarter of 2020, the company said; approval of the AV-30-C certified EFIS is expected in roughly the same timeframe, followed by the arrival of a wingtip-mounted skyBeaconX around midyear.

The tailBeaconX adds more than the V-shaped fins readily visible on the product. Like the original tailBeacon, tailBeaconX serves as both position light and ADS-B transceiver. Unlike tailBeacon, those fins are a dipole antenna that facilitates space-based ADS-B via 1090 MHz Mode S extended squitter; tailBeaconX incorporates satellite-based augmentation system GPS capability, and is the first commercially available ADS-B solution made with UAM in mind. The unit weighs 90 grams, draws 3 watts of power, and requires no space in the avionics bay.

The beta test program launched in late 2019 gave experimental aircraft owners an opportunity to install the unit, and COPA President and CEO Bernard Gervais said in the uAvionix press release:

“COPA is proud and excited to take part of this groundbreaking technological advancement,” Gervais said. “Our members and GA from anywhere in the world will be able to equip and reap the safety benefits of see and be seen at a more reasonable price than any other ADS-B system. Best of all the small, simple, easy to install system could also be an excellent complement to traditional 406MHz ELTs that don’t work almost 2 out of 5 times. This could take the Search out of Search and Rescue.”

Jim Moore

Jim Moore

Managing Editor-Digital Media
Digital Media Managing Editor Jim Moore joined AOPA in 2011 and is an instrument-rated private pilot, as well as a certificated remote pilot, who enjoys competition aerobatics and flying drones.
Topics: Aircraft Modifications, ADS-B, Avionics

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