Letters: August 2014

I read the LED lighting upgrade article in your July 2014 issue and thought the following would be of interest. LED lighting is superb. Once you have LED landing lights, you will never be satisfied with incandescent bulbs. Conspicuousness is improved. You need not turn any lights off due to much lower current drain, and LEDs will likely last longer than you can ever fly your airplane.

However, there can be electrical and administrative problems as you alluded. I had excellently performing Lopresti Boom Beams on my TBM 700 perhaps 10 years ago. But, attempts to add them to my TBM 850 five years ago were defeated by significant magnetic flux errors. The plane was not flyable with them activated.
I switched to Whelan LEDs for landing, taxi and position lights. These were installed without difficulty and the plane passed several annuals uneventfully. However, this February the local FSDO inspector decreed they all had to be removed and replaced with original incandescent lighting, or my aircraft would not pass the annual. I had to purchase new outmoded bulb lighting, and underwrite the exchange at a total cost of about $2500. Meanwhile, the same LEDs were being installed by facilities in other states on TBM 850 aircraft. I hope other owners have not had this restriction imposed.

The issue has since resolved, as my current TBM 900 is factory equipped with LEDs. Let’s see an FAA field inspector say they do not pass muster.
Ian Blair Fries, MD
via email

ADS-B legalities
As apparently one of the few pilots actively talking to avionics shops about ADS-B Out equipment upgrades, I found two issues with the ADS-B article in the July 2014 issue of Aviation Consumer. First, you did not mention that the ADS-B Out mandate requires all components to be installed by an STC. That means no field approvals and no FAA 337 forms. So I find your recommendation of the Freeflight Rangr ADS-B transceiver off base since its STC only includes about 400 aircraft models. I have tried repeatedly for the last three months to find out from FreeFlight when it will expand the STC applicability, but have gotten no replies. The company’s attitude seems to be that if you aren’t flying a Cessna, Piper or a Bonanza, they don’t care about you.

The Garmin GDL 88 ADS-B transceiver has an STC that includes over 1600 models—a major plus for the rest of us. Second, you mentioned the NavWorx ADS600-B as a suitable solution when in fact the 600-B does not have a certified GPS and the NavWorx website specifically states it does not meet the ADS-B Out mandate. The ADS600-BG, at a list price of $3600, is required to meet the 2020 mandate.

Jack Becker
via email

You’re only partially correct, Jack. If you need an integral WAAS GPS position source, the NavWorx model ADS-600BG is the NavWorx unit you’ll need. As we said in the article, NavWorx didn’t have final approval on these systems when we went to press, but they do now.

As for ADS-B installations being off-limits to FAA Field Approval, FreeFlight’s Peter Ring says that’s not the case:

“Field Approvals have been authorized and completed (including a PA-24-260 Comanche, a Citabria and several others) since October 2012. We are actively adding more aircraft makes and models to our STC list since we completed the AML covering the common aircraft that Mr. Becker mentions.

“That process takes time in part because our systems work with most existing avionics (such as Mode A and C transponders) instead of requiring the expensive replacement of perfectly good gear,” he told us.
android fans

I enjoyed your article on FlightPro for Android in the July 2014 issue. Those of us who fly with Android tablets have been waiting several years for Aviation Consumer to look at hardware and software alternatives to the Apple world.

I’ve been using Naviator for a couple of years with good results. Based on your latest review, it appears that FlightPro has much of the same feature set as Naviator, but at a 50 percent higher subscription price. How about doing a head-to-head comparison between the two apps?

Steve Kendall
Auburn, California

Kudos to Aviation Consumer for digging deep into the FlightPro Android aviation app in the July issue. While so many publications gush over iOS apps, I knew I could count on you guys to look at a worthy alternative.

Gregory Mathews
via email

We recognize the emerging Android market as a worthy alternative to iOS and plan more coverage and comparison articles moving forward.