AEA Convention Sees New Products, Optimism on the Industry

58th annual gathering heavy on ADS-B talk.

AEA 2015 Dallas
AEA 2015 Dallas
Aircraft Electronics Association

Is it time to rename the 59-year-old international avionics association? The Aircraft Electronics Association (AEA), currently holding its annual convention in Dallas, might want to think about calling itself the ADS-B Association. Much of the news and talk at the event, which was sold out to exhibitors and filling up with attendees by Thursday, centered around the politics, products, development and outlook of this overarching FAA mandate to require virtually every aircraft to equip with the new surveillance gear.

Appareo launched a new panel-mount Mode-C/ADS-B unit with built-in WAAS for less than $4,000. The company, which manufacturers the popular Stratus and Stratus 2 ADS-B receivers, is targeting non-glass legacy aircraft, especially those with long-in-the-tooth Mode-C models that might not be up to the transition to ADS-B partner boxes. Rising star FreeFlight made its public debut of its sub-$2,000 Ranger Lite model. The company's Jessica Power told Flying that the excitement the announcement has generated is big, as avionics shops around the country line up to sell the budget boxes.

Connectivity was a big topic too. Smartsky 4G gave more details on its emerging air-to-ground system that will give business aircraft access to high-speed internet using some patented technologies, including something it calls "beamforming," which targets equipped aircraft from below for maximum bandwidth access.

Another big subject of discussion was the economy, which just about everyone agreed was on the mend, with higher levels of avionics business, up 4 percent, according to AEA president Paula Derks. We heard the same cautiously optimistic view from just about every manufacturer with which we spoke, many of them saying that new products and new technologies, from ADS-B to touchscreen displays, were helping drive the business.

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