According to both manufacturers, the short answer to “why?” comes down to time, money and the freedom to innovate. Companies can produce and sell non-TSO’d equipment at a price point that is more affordable than TSO’d equipment. And precisely because manufacturers don’t have to spend the time and money required to put it through a lengthy FAA certification process, they can be more innovative with the features they add.
The long answer is more involved, however, explains Robert Hamilton, Dynon’s director of marketing and sales — involved because some would argue that the non-TSO’d products found in many of today’s S-LSA, for example, are innovative, high-quality and proven because they’re based upon products that experimental homebuilders had been installing into their creations and flying in the field for years prior to the advent of LSA.
“We can more quickly build upon an existing product to create a new one, from adding new technology like synthetic vision to incorporating an innovative feature homebuilders want to see added,” Hamilton says. “A TSO’d product could take years to get approval.
“SkyView 3.0 grew from our D10/D100 line of products, adding improvements like engine monitoring, HSI and autopilot over the years. We knew we were going to add the synthetic vision, but sometimes other new features, like the G-meter, are based strictly upon homebuilders’ feedback.”
(It would do well to note here that ASTM standards currently don’t exist for software and database updates to non-TSO’d avionics either. As a result, manufacturers such as Dynon can offer software and database updates for much lower costs and often even free.)
Longtime avionics manufacturers like Garmin are leveraging their industry experience from designing and producing FAA-certified products to produce non-TSO’d products.
Take Garmin’s GPSMap 496.