NBAA Convention News

Southeast Aerospace Introduces New Low-Cost ADS-B Upgrade

 - October 31, 2016, 10:30 AM
As the 2020 ADS-B deadline approaches, some business jet operators can comply with this combination from Southeast Aerospace. Installed cost is less than $50,000, according to Southeast.

Melbourne, Fla.-based Southeast Aerospace has teamed with Garmin International, Gables Engineering and Peregrine Avionics to bring what it calls the most cost-effective and flexible ADS-B solution to the business aviation community. It recently earned a Part 25 AML STC for ADS-B out/in for non-TCAS II Beechjets, Citations, Hawkers, Learjets and Falcons.

Southeast Aerospace (Booth 4657) installed the prototype on a Citation III. Operators have the option to receive ADS-B in on their portable devices and/or existing Garmin displays. Although ADS-B in displays might need additional approvals, Southeast estimates the price of the system installation at less than $50,000 at local Garmin dealers.

Installing dual Garmin GTX 345R remote transponders and the Gables G7534-100X control head makes the low-cost application possible, according to Southeast. The Gables control head can replace the aircraft’s existing transponder control and provide full control of both GTX 345Rs. The STC requires the installation of an ADS-B fail annunciation to the panel. The use of the GTX-345R’s internal GPS or a Garmin WAAS-capable GNS or GTN panel-mounted navigator meets the GPS positioning requirements of AC 20-165B.

As the 2020 ADS-B mandate draws closer, operators and modification facilities have seen an increase in options to meet the requirement. Regardless of the aircraft category, virtually every avionics OEM offers its own options. As with any mandate, price is a serious consideration.

Unfortunately, inexpensive UAT-type ADS-B out systems don’t meet the needs of Part 25 aircraft because they fly at FL180 and above. Therefore, upgrading the existing transponder system stands as the only option. For Part 25 aircraft, available transponder upgrades offer little price relief. Apart from aircraft with a pre-existing WAAS-certified GPS and pre-existing upgradable transponders, the cost of modification to implement ADS-B starts at about $85,000. In most cases, even after the expensive upgrade, operators must buy a separate portable receiver to obtain ADS-B in.

Southeast Aerospace technical sales manager Nathan Hernandez explained the benefits operators will realize from the new STC, particularly those that fly primarily in the U.S. and aren’t equipped with TCAS II. “We’ve been trying to find a way to give those operators a more cost-effective solution,” he said, referring to the FAA’s ADS-B mandate, scheduled to take effect after midnight Dec. 31, 2019. “To spend eighty or more thousand dollars just to output more information, that’s a tough pill to swallow.

“If you look at a Citation, for example, you can upgrade its transponders and its control head so that it has all the capabilities, and maybe you’re sitting at, let’s say, $50,000. Then you’ve got to buy a GPS sensor because you have to have the appropriate WAAS GPS data for the transponder to operate. So now, even if you go cheap, you’re looking at another $15,000 to $20,000, not including labor.”

All told, the total price could rise to as high as $150,000 if, as Hernandez explained, one includes a reasonably capable GPS for LPV approaches and the cost of the STC and the other various parts needed to allow the system to operate and comply with the FAA regulation.

Because the Garmin transponder has a built-in GPS, a non-TCAS II operator needs only a spot for the transponder control head. “So if you’re not TCAS II, you’re good to go,” he said.  

Although Hernandez projected that the bulk of the demand for the ADS-B upgrade will come from the U.S. during the first year of its market availability, SEA expects to see more interest from operators in South and Central America and Canada as they need to meet the requirements to fly into the States.

“There’s been a lot of good interest from avionics shops coast to coast, and we’ve already had some emails come in from avionics shops overseas that have interest in it,” said Hernandez. “I was kind of caught me off guard; I didn’t expect that this early, but I’ll take it.”