Avionics News July 2017 - 36
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looks, Marcia said, but Avidyne said they would "continue to
support everything they make."
Avidyne also was offering a deal that included an AXP340
Mode S transponder with its IFD540, Marcia added. This
combination provided the WAAS/GPS engine for ADS-B Out
with the bonus of replacing their unrepairable Narco transponder. "We kept the HSI as the primary indicator for the VOR,
and we kept the Narco DME."
For the ADS-B component itself, the Noelles chose the
FreeFlight Ranger because it supports Android tablets, on which
they planned to display the incoming traffic and flight information data. "We support Android devices because you don't have
to replace them when updates are available," she explained.
When they talked to the Avidyne and FreeFlight reps at
Oshkosh, and the technicians at Pacific Coast Avionics, which
would do the install, they said the units would interface, but that
was before the units shipped. If not the first, the Noelles were
among them for the installation of the IFD540 and FreeFlight
Ranger, Frank said. When the two units couldn't connect,
Avidyne said a firmware update would resolve the issue.
"Then Avidyne introduced its own ADS-B-In receiver, the
MLB100," Frank said, "and with that announcement they
understandably dedicated their programmers to their equipment rather than the Ranger integration." Despite the interface
problems, the companies involved were all extremely cooperative in devising a solution, Marcia added. And Frank gave
Pacific Coast "five stars out of five stars - they weren't happy
until we were happy."
As part of the solution, Avidyne offered the Noelles its
MLB100 "for whatever we could sell the Ranger for, and they
gave us the installation," Marcia said. "It was a decent and
reasonable offer." But the Noelles kept the Ranger because
it would wirelessly connect their Android tablet to ADS-B In
traffic and flight information.
The Noelle's installation landed on the early adopter side of
the line "because it happened right in the middle of ADS-B's
growing pains," said Chris Brand of Pacific Coast Avionics at
Oregon's Aurora State Airport. The ADS-B infrastructure was
in place, he said, but the FAA was still tweaking the system
and finding better ways to track airplanes. When the FAA
discovers a compliance percentage failure, it works with the
OEM to make the software changes to accommodate them.
"Marcia's was the first FreeFlight box we'd installed," said
Brand, "but we've done a lot of them since, including a contract
to install them in a flight school fleet. And hers was one of the
first Avidyne 540 installs we did." With it, the techs took their
"first steps on the install learning curve." Since then "we've
installed a lot of Avidyne systems, and they work well, but at
the start, everyone was learning to work with each other."
With the Ranger installed, it would not display weather and
traffic on the Android tablet, no matter what app the Pacific
Coast techs tried. After several unsuccessful software updates,
Brand said, "We got a hold of a FreeFlight engineer and
learned that the box was an older model that would not accept
the correct software. It was set up for early Capstone-type
software, and it would not work with the new ADS-B Plus
software. We had to remove the box and send it to FreeFlight
for them to upgrade. Now reinstalled, it works as it should,"
which means it will readily accept future software upgrades.
To make their ADS-B adventure more interesting, the annual
inspection on their Cessna 182 revealed one cylinder with low
compression, which was disturbing because the engine had less
than 100 hours on it after a complete rebuild. After pulling the
cylinder, they discovered a broken ring had gouged the cylinder.
"The engine went to ECI in Texas, and our engine was
torn apart and in their building when ECI was shut down
and sold," Marcia said. Resolving this unexpected challenge
downed her Cessna more than a year. Without going into all
the details of getting their O-470 back, in the end, Marcia
said, the numbers worked better for replacing the engine with
a more powerful STC installation of an IO-520.
Had the engine problem not delayed the airplane's return
to service, "I would have been unhappy because both boxes
needed a lot of updates because they didn't work," Frank
said. "We were the beta testers, and in some cases, the alpha
testers." But, said Marcia, "Pacific Coast Avionics went above
and beyond to make sure everything worked."
After two years of avionics and powerplant work, the
Noelle's Cessna 182 returned to service. But one more surprise revealed itself at the start of Marcia's flight review, her
first flight after two years on the ground. Pacific Coast quickly
found and corrected the pitot-static problem that rendered the
connected instruments either inoperative or unreliable.
Her ADS-B system now operates as it should. The MLB100
is hardwired into the IFD540, which can display ADS-B In's
traffic and flight information services. Driven by the IFD540's
WAAS/GPS engine, the AXP340 Mode S 1090ES transponder
delivers the Cessna's ADS-B Out position information. The
FreeFlight Ranger, with its integrated WAAS/GPS engine,
feeds ADS-B data to Frank's Android tablet through its wireless connection. His app of choice is iFLY GPS.
Happy to be flying again, Marcia said, "The big challenge
is going from no GPS to the IFD540 and having a handful of
things to deal with. I have a lot of learning to do." Once again
flying to visit family and friends, the Noelle's experimented
on how best to configure their cockpit screens to efficiently
display ADS-B's incoming traffic and weather information. As
a second set of see-and-avoid eyes, Frank couldn't say enough
about the contribution to safety and accuracy presented on his
Android tablet. q