Avionics Report

February 2011 Issue

Portable Traffic Alerters: Zaon + Garmin Works

Portables won’t catch all traffic, but for lower budgets, it’s the only option. We think a Zaon XRX and a Garmin portable is the best solution.

There may not be widespread midairs out there, but we wiggle in our seats in busy airspace and non-controlled fields. If you fly a glider, rental or don’t have 10 grand in your budget for a traffic alerting system (TAS) install, a portable traffic system can fill the gap. But these aren’t active systems like TAS. Portable systems are passive, simply listening for 1090 MHz transponder transmissions of other aircraft. Some designs suffer from pulse suppression issues. The result is nuisance alerts that might have you reaching for the power switch in busy airspace. In a traffic-rich environment position accuracy is also a concern. Interpreting the data on a small screen—especially when it’s on top of the glareshield in a sun-splashed cockpit—is tough. Tying it to a portable GPS map screen solves this issue, but with added wiring clutter.

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