Over this past year this series has covered just about all aspects of the Next Generation Air Transportation System (NextGen) and what it will do for General Aviation.
In addition, we went even further, delivering an historical perspective of the entire National Airspace System. We believed it was necessary to remind each aviator that our way of life will always be in a state of change.
Even more important is that these changes are not linear by any means. In fact, they follow more of an exponential curve than anything else. The more we learn and the more we develop, the larger the level of technological growth over every year.
While researching these articles over the past 16 months, we have had the opportunity to meet other GA pilots, industry leaders, sales organizations and, yes, even some of the regulatory people who keep things legal. In doing so we discovered that the majority of general aviation pilots we sat with and interviewed had negative responses to NextGen for two primary reasons: Costs and the unwillingness to learn a new system.
We spearheaded the cost early on in the series, advising the entire GA community that the market would, in fact, drive new products supporting NextGen and that prices would decline over time. Plus, given the importance of NextGen, there would be plenty of educational material available to get everyone up to speed with the operation of ADS-B.
That was over a year ago and what do you know? In just one year makers of GPS products, flight planning systems, audio systems, interface electronics, and communications are now either delivering ADS-B products or are in the development stages. These products are being introduced with all kinds of options that can be fine-tuned for each and every airplane in GA. Price, form, power requirements and even antennas have all been engineered to be retrofit and operate in GA aircraft ranging from a non-electric Aeronca Champ to Piper Navajos. In fact, it seems that the entire GPS sector is now moving into ADS-B and NextGen almost as if we asked them to go there. Not sure we can take that kind of credit, but the fact remains, they’re here.
The job now is to research these products as they hit the marketplace to see exactly what each system can offer each GA pilot. A discovery process will take place reviewing these systems in an effort to detail each product’s capability including:
- Features and Benefits
- Form Factor and Size
- User Interface
- Installation (if any)
- Power Requirements
- Remote vs Wired
- Companion Products if required
- Graphics with Display Devices
- ADS-B In or ADS-B In and Out
- True Battery Life compared to claims
- RF Sensitivity
- Certified or Non Certified
- And, the big one: Price.
We will also take suggestions from you, the reader, on any functions that you may want to be informed about. As an example, we have many people out there who have no electrical power in their aircraft. These people alone have a relatively large dynamic of requirements for what they would like in their particular aircraft. Being able to speak to so many people that live within GA will allow for a true understanding of what people were looking for.
Each product will first be bench tested in our labs for their operational characteristics. This is were all the measurements will take place, such as DC current demands, battery life, heat, harnesses, and RF measurements depending on each system.
From there we go to the air with two types of aircraft, our very own Aeronca Champ and our Rockwell AC 11. In-flight testing will bring up even more information on each product from both the practical and technical side of operations.
All the companies out there that are dibbling and dabbling with ADS-B for GA, please contact us and send your products in so we can “show your stuff.”
Does it stop there? No, we have just begun.
At this year’s SUN ’n FUN, slated for April 9-14, General Aviation News and Matchbox Aeronautical Systems will provide live courses on NextGen. I promise this will not be the typical boring presentation you would get from a PowerPoint, talking points event. This will be a presentation with fully animated slides teaching and explaining the entire system. We will follow the history as we did here in print and demonstrate how the system works globally. It will be very interactive and, for sure, lots of laughs. Of course, there will be time for open discussions and a Q&A at the end. We can also provide you first hand information on some of the systems we were able to sample.
So if you are going to SUN ’n FUN, make sure to check out SUN ’n FUN Today for the schedule.
This is the latest in a series of articles looking at the impact of the Next Generation Air Transportation System (NextGen) on GA pilots. All articles are archived on GeneralAviationNews.com. Go to Blogs, then NextGen to catch up on the series.