In 1985, as Ronald Reagan began his second term as president and pop stars recorded “We are the World” for famine relief, two young engineers went to work in a basement to solve a problem: Conversations in a small airplane cockpit are uncomfortable at best, impossible at worst.
Eric Persson (Mr. P) and Mark Scheuer (Mr. S) sketched some circuits, connected some parts, and ultimately started a business called PS Engineering.
The company’s first intercoms were sold out of the trunk of a car, at airshows and eventually through a small ad in aviation publications. By the time George H. W. Bush took the White House, PS Engineering took the next step, and introduced the PM1000 (Panel Mount) intercom. This led to FAA certification of the product and the manufacturing facility, and the company moved into more and bigger airplanes and markets.
After 10 years, the company took on another project where performance was lacking, the audio control panel, dubbed the “Rodney Dangerfield” of avionics by Scheuer. Until that time, audio panels were a collection of switches, and a place to park the marker beacon receiver, he said. The PMA6000M, introduced in 1995, combined the performance of the PM1000 intercom with an audio selector panel and marker beacon.
Swap mode (ability to switch transmitters from a control wheel switch) became the first of many PS Engineering patented innovations, company officials note. Split mode (pilot and copilot on different communications radios at the same time) added new capability in crew resource management that was formerly only found in large airplanes.
Less than two years later, in 1998, PS Engineering introduced IntelliVox, a patented automatic intercom squelch protocol that has seen 70,000 applications to date. By eliminating the need to fiddle with manual intercom squelch, conversations in the cockpit become comfortable and reliable, improving the flight experience, company officials said.
PS Engineering soon found itself a supplier to Piper, Mooney, Raytheon, Aero Commander, and Bell, flying atop radio stacks by Bendix/King and Garmin. The company also has partnered with Honeywell, UPS AT (Apollo), L-3 Communications, and Avidyne as a preferred audio control provider.
But PS Engineering is never far from the grass-roots aviator that made the company successful, according to company officials, who note the company ships as many intercoms as all the competition combined. This includes the PM1000II, the PM3000 stereo intercom (recently enhanced for LSA application), and the PM1200, specially designed for the worst noise environments in warbirds and open cockpit airplanes.
The company also integrated entertainment into its units, including the first FAA-approved stereo intercom, with its SoftMute circuit. Today, PS Engineering offerings include a stereo intercom, an FAA-certified DVD system designed specifically for general aviation, and its flagship product, the PMA8000B MP3, which includes a built-in MP3 player.
For more information: PS-Engineering.com