May 2011 Issue

Portable ADS-B WX: Free Data with Limits

Can a portable device with ADS-B free you from the monthly fee for datalink weather? Yes, but not without a few sacrifices. WingX leads the pack.

In the formative days of ADS-B, the FAA had a carrot-and-stick plan. Youd have to invest in equipment to comply with the FAAs new traffic system. But youd get free datalink weather in the cockpit as part of the bargain. Unfortunately, that "bargain" requires a $10,000 Universal Access Transceiver (UAT) to transmit and receive your traffic data (called TIS-B) and receive the free weather (FIS-B). Cheaper solutions meet the ADS-B mandate, but without weather. Thats all stick and no carrot. The free weather data is still out there, however, and it was only a matter of time before someone built a receiver to paint that data on a portable display. To be clear: None of these comply with the ADS-B mandate for traffic data. They just provide weather data similar to XMs satellite-delivered weather.

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