Perhaps the most interesting portable in our lineup is the SkyGuardTWX, a small and powerful ADS-B transceiver that combines a dual-band 978 and 1090ES receiver with an ADS-B transmitter. A free app lets you update the send information with your personal identification data, including your N-number, so other airplanes can see your info on their displays of ADS-B in.
The regulatory status of a portable ADS-B transceiver is not clear to us; we’ve asked a few different experts and the FAA and have gotten a number of different responses. Suffice it to say it’s a bit of a gray area in the regs. The manufacturer recommends not using it for IFR, but we were unable to find anything in the regs that would prohibit its use under instrument flight rules.
There are, clearly, a lot of amateur-built airplanes using non-TSOed gear under IFR every day. Just to be sure, I tested the unit under VFR. Like every unit in this roundup, the SkyGuardTWX performed very well. The Cirrus is an ideal platform for such a test, as the VHF transmissions pass right through the structure of the airplane. (This is not the case in metal airplanes.)
Though it made me nervous, as though I were doing something that I wasn’t supposed to, my position and N-number were transmitted through the ADS-B system when we checked on it. I was participating fully in the system, and with a portable unit at that, so not only could see other ADS-B participating airplanes but they could see me — something that is not the case for any of the other units reviewed here.
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