Will we soon be seeing fully TSO compliant battery-powered ADS-B Out transceivers that are approved by the FAA for the 2020 equipment mandate? Yes, we will. But don’t get too excited just yet.
Unfortunately you probably won’t be permitted to install the gear in the airplane you fly. That’s because under the new TSO guidance that avionics makers say they are reviewing, the battery-powered ADS-B Out products would be intended for use only in gliders and general aviation aircraft certified without electrical systems.
The FAA says the TSO guidance for battery-powered ADS-B Out units came after two years of extensive flight testing. In other words, the technology has been proven safe and effective and is ready for prime time.
The big question is, why limit these units to Aeronca Champs and Piper Cubs?
Lightweight, low-cost ADS-B transmitters are also in the works for UAVs, Experimental aircraft and LSAs. Again, these transmitters won’t be approved for use in the vast majority of Part 23 GA airplanes, which must carry equipment that meets a strict set of certification criteria — and which has driven the price of ADS-B Out gear to around $5,000 per airplane at a bare minimum.
AOPA, the Experimental Aircraft Association and others have been trying without success to convince the FAA to amend the ADS-B mandate to permit the use of lower-cost gear, such as battery-powered portable units. There has been no word from the agency yet about whether it is considering such a change, but time is running short.
Meanwhile, once the lower-cost battery-powered ADS-B Out products start hitting the market, the outcry from GA pilots over ADS-B’s high price tag will likely only grow louder.
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