Garmin adds TCAS, TAS to its portfolio

 - December 29, 2009, 4:18 AM

It’s official: Garmin can now add to its list of avionics specialties the coveted title of TCAS maker. The company announced last month it has gained an approved model list STC for its recently launched line of traffic alert systems, including a fully functioning TCAS I. The approval permits installations of the products in some 580 general aviation aircraft, with more expected to be added to the blanket authorization later this year. Garmin obtained TSO approval for the GTS 800, GTS 820 and GTS 850 traffic alert systems in November after launching the product line last summer.

The GTS line covers the gamut of GA aircraft, from light piston singles up to turboprops and jets. The traffic alerters combine active and passive surveillance data that uses a new, patent-pending Garmin technology capable of correlating automatic dependent surveillance broadcast (ADS-B) with radar targets to provide pilots with a more accurate picture of the sky. “The GTS traffic series is one of several aviation products designed to be compatible with the NextGen system,” said Gary Kelly, vice president of marketing for Garmin. “It can track up to 60 targets at a time, identify the flight path of specific aircraft, and give spoken audio alerts in an ATC-like format so that pilots are able to react immediately to their surrounding traffic situation.”

All three systems in the GTS series create a 360-degree “zone of detection” around the aircraft so that pilots can quickly see and identify targets that might pose a collision threat. The GTS 800 TAS is the lowest-priced system in the series, offering 40 watts of transmit power and a range of up to 12 nm. The GTS 820 TAS delivers 250 watts of transmit power and up to 40 nm of interrogation range. The GTS 850 TCAS I satisfies all collision avoidance criteria for use in turboprops and jets and features the same 250-watt power supply as the GTS 820.

The GTS series products include Garmin’s Clear CAS (correlated location enhanced ADS-B receiver collision avoidance system) technology, a hybrid system that provides automatically refreshed information that is independent of surveillance radar. Clear CAS combines active and passive surveillance data, including 1090-MHz extended squitter ADS-B data (for ADS-B out).

A recent demo of the Garmin TCAS in a Beech Baron 55 flown with another Baron acting as the “intruder” aircraft showed the system does everything its maker claims. The TCAS easily kept track of the threat airplane even as it maneuvered above, below and behind. The Garmin system includes all the features found in other TCAS products as well as expanded audio traffic alerts in an “ATC-like” format. For example, the unit will provide alerts such as: “Traffic; eleven o’clock; high; less than one mile.”

The GTS 800, 820 and 850 are available for list prices starting at $9,995, $19,995 and $24,995, respectively.