Avionics News January 2016 - 13
An avionics shop should not apologize because
its value is higher than the competition and,
therefore, has higher prices. Every industry has low
prices and high prices; low value and high value.
services; it's just not in the cockpit of most modern aircraft. If
you question this, the next time you are at EAA AirVenture,
look in the cockpit of experimental amateur-built aircraft. In
many cases, the value of the cockpit exceeds the total cost of
the kit. Why? They aren't limited to certified equipment. It is
simply because the owner understands the value of quality,
reliability and support.
Value in avionics is going to continue to be front and center
in the next decade. Not only is ADS-B a hot topic, but the
other elements of NextGen are getting a lot of attention.
During FAA Administrator Michael Huerta's speech at
NBAA 2015, he said, "Modern, GPS-based procedures now
outnumber the old ground-based procedures. In major metropolitan areas around the country - including North Texas,
Houston, and the Washington, D.C., area, just to name a
few - we flipped the switch on hundreds of performancebased arrivals and departures." He continued and noted that
"system-wide, we've measured $1.6 billion in benefits to airlines and the traveling public from the NextGen capabilities
we have already enabled. In the next 15 years, we estimate
these changes alone will produce an additional $11.4 billion
One of the conversations I had during NBAA this year was
from an operator based in the Washington, D.C., metropolitan area who was discussing (complaining) the high cost and
low availability of ADS-B solutions for his early generation
Beechjet. As the conversation continued, and following lots
of questions, he was talking about a full NextGen upgrade
being initiated by the ADS-B mandate. If he needed to install
WAAS GPS for his ADS-B solution, he wanted to utilize it for
PRNAV and LPV approaches. I walked away from the conversation smiling - he finally got it!
The next big area for avionics is going to be data communications. There are segments of the airways already seeing the
benefit and, in some cases, mandates, for datalink communications. The aim of the controller pilot data link communications
concept is to supplement voice communication between pilots
and air traffic controllers, and to increase air traffic management capacity by automating routine tasks while improving safety. Today, there are two main implementations of
The FANS-1 system originally developed by Boeing, and
Airbus as FANS-A, are now commonly referred to as FANS1/A, and is primarily used in oceanic routes by wide-bodied
long-haul aircraft as well as certain business aircraft.
The ICAO Doc. 9705 compliant ATN/CPDLC system
is operational at Eurocontrol's Maastricht Upper Airspace
Control Centre and has now been extended to many other
European flight information regions. The VDL Mode 2 networks operated by ARINC and SITA are used to support the
European ATN/CPDLC service.
While we do not anticipate a datalink mandate in the U.S.
airspace, the FAA has been open about a "best equipped,
best served" approach to datalink. During his NBAA speech,
Huerta said, "Very soon, you will see additional improvements, such as takeoff and taxi clearances being delivered to
the cockpit via text messaging. We're calling it Data Comm,
and it promises to ease congestion on our frequencies and
reduce the potential for misunderstanding critical safety information. We have already deployed Data Comm in Newark,
Memphis, Houston and Salt Lake City ... We're on track to
deliver Data Comm to more than 50 air traffic control towers
and TRACONs in 2016, and we expect it will be in our large
en route centers in 2019. It's exciting stuff, and it's going to
make us all safer and more efficient."
NextGen is modernization, pure and simple. In some cases,
our aircraft were modernized by new technology decades
ago, and we are just now seeing the international authorities
leverage these technologies for more efficient and safer flying
routes. In some cases, the modernization is to help the authorities by operating more efficiently. Either way, we didn't create
the rules, we didn't create the mandates, but we can certainly
help provide the value-based solutions. Here's to a New Year's
resolution for 2016 - no more apologies! q