SkyBeacon Nears TSO Certification

ADS-B Out solution offers much more than meets the eye.

uAvionix sky beacon
The SkyBeacon integrates five valuable tools into a single unit.Rob Mark

As TSO certification day approaches ever closer for uAvionix' SkyBeacon, an event reportedly just a few weeks away, company reps told Flying they had just enough time to add one more important feature to the ADS-B Out wingtip solution, an altitude encoder. That brings the number of useful internal tools inside the SkyBeacon to five. The SkyBeacon is designed to be a low-cost method of compliance with the FAA's 2020 ADS-B Out mandate. Other SkyBeacon features include the ADS-B Out unit, a WAAS GPS receiver, a position light and an anti-collision light, all designed for easy installation on the left wingtip of many aircraft. A complimentary product called SkySensor is on the list for certification that will add ADS-B In capabilities when the unit is installed in place of the right wingtip light.

The SkyBeacon is designed to be a low-cost method of compliance with the FAA 2020 ADS-B Out mandate. The uAvionix team said it realized early on that to offer pilots an affordable solution, running any kind of wires or plumbing through the wing would be impossibly costly. The company focused all its efforts on a 10-minute unit install, with just an A&P signoff needed, as well as attaching three wires and entering the N-number through a smartphone app.

Ryan Braun, uAvinoix COO said, “The big challenge with getting something like this certified is taking electronics originally designed for other applications and convincing FAA that we could help them create new guidance to policy to allow this kind of technology to be added to an airplane. We’re using very low power, physically tiny chips and so we created every bit of the SkyBeacon from scratch. There were no off-the-shelf solutions.”

What makes the newest SkyBeacon feature work is a new uAvionix-designed system called continuous calibration that ensures the pressure altitude that the encoder senses and reports is in line with the Mode C altitude reported by the Mode C transponder.

FAA TSO certification of SkyBeacon means the agency has audited and approved the company’s design and manufacturing for aircraft in general. Once uAvionix receives its TSO for aircraft in general, it will then create the STC for a variety of aircraft models.

SkyBeacon retails for $1,849.