February 2019

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Subscribers Only - Itís bad enough to shell out two grand for a force-fed government mandate, and it would be worse if the product became orphaned should the courts rule in Garminís favor. Weíve seen it before. Recall the contentious losing battle ADS-B maker NavWorx had with the FAA when the agency ultimately pulled the plug on its products after determining they didnít meet some of the stringent certification specs.

Why The Latest UAvionix Patent Is Significant

If you've been holding out for a cheaper mandate-compliant ADS-B solution you've no doubt been eyeballing the sub-$2000 uAvionix skyBeacon wingtip position light with integral ADS-B. There's also the tailBeacon, a similar gadget that mounts on the vertical tail on airplanes with tail-mounted position lamps. As we've reported, uAvionix was slapped with a patent infringement lawsuit from Garmin on the basis that uAvionix copied some of its technology used in these devices. While the lawsuit will likely drag along in the system for some time-and it's been successful business as usual at uAvionix-we get calls and letters on a regular basis from concerned potential buyers. I get it.

Letters From Readers: February 2019

Never, ever ones to pass on the chance for free premium southern bourbon, we got in touch with both ForeFlight and Avidyne. On the record, ForeFlight said, "We are actively supporting Avidyne as they implement our published GDL90 specification and perform testing. The display of ADS-B weather and traffic on ForeFlight will be supported in a future Avidyne update." According to Avidyne, "We have shared our ICD with ForeFlight and we currently can do two-way exchange of flight plan data. We expect that ForeFlight will implement the decoding and display of ADS-B weather and traffic from our IFD Wi-Fi data stream in a future release."

Aspen EFD1000 E5: Low Cost, But Stark

Subscribers Only - As we've been reporting, prices for some retrofit primary EFIS systems have dropped to the sweet spot of around $5000 or less. This is thanks to a new regulatory certification process that sidesteps the pricey and time-consuming TSO process in favor of an STC. Aspen Avionics has populated the field with over 20,000 Evolution EFIS displays over a 10-year span and is the latest to offer a budget-based EFIS with the $4995 EFD1000 E5 Dual EFI.

Insurance Update: A Hardening Market

Subscribers Only - Beginning in 2010, there was a further influx of companies starting their own aviation divisions. These included Travelers, SwissRe, QBE, Hallmark, XL Catlin, Great American and W.R. Berkley. General aviation did not grow much in that time, so by 2016 there were a lot more insurance dollars chasing each airplane and helicopter than there had been 10 years before. The market was awash in what insurers refer to as "capacity." Capacity is basically the capital required for insurers to set aside as reserves as they take on the risk that comes with new insurance policies. As the new companies entered the market, the legacy companies, including USAIG, Global Aerospace, AIG and Old Republic (Phoenix), were forced into a defensive position in order to maintain their market share against the new invaders, and we were off to the races.

Exhaust Systems: Keeping Them Healthy

The discharge portion of a powerplant has a pretty nasty job and lives in an environment that may well be the definition of harsh. I think the FAA's description in its Airframe and Powerplant Mechanics Powerplant Handbook understates things: ". . . a scavenging system that collects and disposes of the high-temperature, noxious gasses as they are discharged by the engine." The reality is that those pipes bolted onto the engine eat flame, endure corrosive gasses that attack their very structure amidst intense vibration and are charged with safely channeling all of that heat and excitement to a point outside of the aircraft where they can do no harm to the trusting occupants of the cabin.

Globalstar Sat-Fi2:Good Ergos, Pricey Data

Subscribers Only - Globalstar's LEO (low earth orbit) constellation forms a network with 24 ground stations that serve as a bridge to traditional terrestrial telecommunications networks on six continents, providing communications to over 120 countries. The current-generation LEO satellite constellation delivers low-speed bandwidth (72 Kbps), not dissimilar to fast dialup modems-good for voice calls, text messages, short emails and textual websites. Don't plan on downloading videos and other big files. That level of performance is best left to the more expensive geostationary satellite-based terrestrial broadband networks.

Mayo Clinic Medicals:Preventive Focus

Dr. Clayton Cowl, chair of the Preventive, Occupational and Aerospace Medicine division, told us the department sees roughly 1800 patients per year, some with the most complex medical certification cases that you can imagine. According to Cowl, in all but a dozen or so cases spread out over 20 years the clinic was able to return those pilots to the flight line. As for the patients that the clinic couldn't get certified, they simply shouldn't be flying anyway, Cowl told us.

121.5 MHz ELTs:Prohibited By FCC

It was nearly 10 years ago that we advised not to rush to the shop to yank out 121.5 MHz ELT systems in favor of the superior but pricey 406 MHz tech. Still, the handwriting was on the wall: Some day, 121.5 MHz beacons will be extinct and that day is now. As we go to press, the FCC (not the FAA) issued a rule that prohibits the manufacturing, importation, sale and even the certification of 121.5 MHz beacons.

Columbia 300/350:

Subscribers Only - But the airplane did have some disadvantages that might be significant to buyers who are eyeballing remaining Columbias on the current used market. Although both the Columbia 300 and earlier SR22s have identical empty and maximum gross takeoff weights, according to the Aircraft Bluebook the 300 gives up 150 pounds in full-fuel payload to the SR22, because its tanks are larger. It's a little more sensitive in loading, too, and perhaps a deal-breaker for some-it lacks the Cirrus' airframe parachute system.