Letters From Readers: January 2019

Skybeacon Certification

I’ve been following your coverage of the uAvionix skyBeacon wingtip ADS-B/lighting system and I’m unclear of whether my airplane is approved (or how it can be approved) for its installation. It’s a Mooney with the wingtip lighting enclosed in the fairing.

Steve Sorenson
via email

You don’t say which model Mooney it is, but if it has the lights enclosed in wingtip fairings the current skyBeacon won’t work. It’s designed for external mounting.

As for the now-approved AML-STC, Mooney models are on it, but nothing later than the M20G. As we go to press, uAvionix says it has started shipping the skyBeacon systems to customers who have preordered. It’s priced at $1895.

Rescue Beacons

skybeacon in hand

I read the PLB (personal locator beacon) article in the November 2018 issue of Aviation Consumer with interest. My shop suggested I switch over to a 406 MHz model from my old Pointer 121.5 MHz beacon and connect it to my Garmin GPS for position encoding. It’s a big number because they have to pull the leather interior in the Bonanza to route the new harness. My question is twofold.

First, am I better off going with a portable beacon, rather than permanent mount, and second, what is the exact process for rescue once either of these 406 systems activate? I’m a little fuzzy on who does what and when. And what happens if there’s a false activation?

Sam Brenton
via email

One benefit of a permanent ELT-particularly a 406 MHz model that’s required to have a remote control switch (which is why your install costs so much)-is the system can trigger on impact or you can activate it before or after ditching. The benefit of a PLB is you can walk with it, and use it for other applications. We think having both isn’t a bad idea.

As for the rescue part, the signal is received by the Air Force Rescue Coordination Center (AFRCC). This is the United States’ inland search-and-rescue coordinator-an agency responsible for coordinating on-land federal SAR activities in the 48 contiguous states, Mexico and Canada. It never sleeps and operates 24/7 from Tydall Air Force Base in Florida. It receives the signal from the satellite-based COSPAS/SARSAT network

The agency first tries to verify that it’s dealing with a legitimate activation and tries to contact the ELT’s registered owner. Then it’s boots on the ground and aircraft in the air, coordinating efforts with the Civil Air Patrol, U.S. Coast Guard and other SAR resources. Here’s hoping you never need to use them.

Aerostar Correction

Overall you guys did an excellent job with the Piper/Smith Aerostar used aircraft review in your November 2018 Aviation Consumer. But you got something wrong-the model 700P doesn’t have cowl flaps.

The IO-540-U2As are turbocharged and intercooled. I have owned a 601P, 602P and one of the 24 factory 700Ps. None of them have cowl flaps. Maybe you are thinking of Mooneys. I also recall that with the auxiliary fuel tanks, full fuel was 202 gallons. Everyone should have the aux tanks.

And, the beautiful picture of the right nacelle that you have in the article is from my 700P. My wife took that picture looking down at the Golden Triangle in Pittsburgh. I may have sent you that picture in the past while commenting on previous Aerostar articles. I have also used that picture maybe hundreds of times in presentations. I had just had N700WZ painted and new Kevlar inlet ducts made because 100 percent of the originals cracked.

The person who said the Aerostar is like a mini airliner got it right. At 25,000 feet in the winter jet stream, ATC would ask me what jet it was. If I pulled the power back, it would go nonstop from Santa Monica, California, to Chicago, Illinois. With regard to it being a maintenance hog, if the upgrades are installed-including the PM alternator and starter-the Aerostar is a normal complex twin. All three of mine were flawlessly and without surprises maintained by Star Aero in Hammonton, New Jersey.

Dennis Wisnosky
via email

Garmin GMA345

Thanks for your thorough bench evaluation of Garmin’s GMA345 Bluetooth audio panel in your November 2018 issue. I’m one who traded out my GMA340 for the GMA345 and as you reported, it really was a slide-in install with decent utility.

Bob Chetsinsky
via email