Editor's Log

September 2017 Issue




Humble Pie

Everything that can be invented has been invented” is a popular quote attributed to Charles H. Duell, commissioner of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office from 1898 to 1901. Today, the quote often is used to ridicule those who refuse to embrace the latest technology or believe nothing new will be forthcoming. The thing is, Duell never said that. He said quite the opposite instead: “In my opinion, all previous advances in the various lines of invention will appear totally insignificant when compared with those which the present century will witness.” Yet, he’s not remembered for that statement, only the former, erroneous one.

Uavionix Skybeacon

Perhaps channeling Duell’s alternate timeline, I recently said something to the effect that pilots and owners who were still waiting for new products and lower prices before biting the bullet to equip their aircraft with ADS-B Out before the 2020 mandate goes into effect were wasting their time. I was convinced that all the cool stuff meeting the mandate had been invented and brought to market. I was wrong. While there’s a lot of cool stuff out there, the recently concluded Experimental Aircraft Association’s AirVenture fly-in extravaganza at Oshkosh, Wis., saw the introduction of several new ADS-B products that set new standards for price, performance and ease of installation.

Garmin, for example, which already has a doorbuster in its G5 electronic attitude instrument, rolled out the GDL 82, a $1795 product the company bills as a non-intrusive, easy-to-install device that meets the ADS-B mandate for many aircraft by working with an existing Mode A/C transponder and transponder antenna.

But the most interesting and disruptive product is from a company new to the general aviation market, uAvionix. The company’s SkyBeacon essentially is an LED navigation light mounting to the wingtip and replacing an existing nav light but containing fully compliant ADS-B Out equipment. The company calls SkyBeacon “the world’s first near zero-install” ADS-B Out solution to meet the 2020 mandate. According to the company, the airplane’s existing nav light wiring and circuit breaker will provide power, and no airframe modifications or additional antennas are required. The SkyBeacon will be available for LSAs and experimental aircraft early next year; an approved model list supplemental type certificate (AML-STC) for certificated aircraft is under development.

Along with software publisher ForeFlight, uAvionix also introduced the Scout, a $199 portable ADS-B In receiver leveraging the success of the $110 Stratux, the roll-your-own, keep-it-simple-and-cheap ADS-B In solution based on the Raspberry Pi microcomputer that we told you about in December 2015.

Despite the huge piece of humble pie I’ve had to digest, it’s great to see products like these brought to market. I wonder what will be next?