AEA Pilot's Guide 2019-2020 - 33

S T O R Y

B Y

S C O T T

But a large handful of responses to the questions,
and iterations of them, queries about the type of
equipment their customers seek, and how their
customers and their airplanes have changed, which
suggests some important trends in the three avionics
markets that serve experimental, amateur-built
aircraft, P art 23 aircraft, and P art
25 aircraft ( a collective identifier
for all turbine-powered aircraft) .
The N ext G eneration Air
Transportation System has wellcharted the future of avionics.
"From a technical aspect,
there doesn't seem to be much
more you can do for the core
functionality of avionics," said
Stein Bruch, president and chief
executive officer of SteinAir in
M innesota. "The displays are
already 3D, so you're likely
going to see more voice control
and head-up displays."
But it is a process. If there's a
single word that describes it, it might be "generation,"
as in "a single stage or degree in the succession of
natural descent." It relates to not only the aircraft
and the equipment they carry but also to the people
who own them. The demographic component affects
all three markets. C onsider this: Throughout many
years, has the apparent age of shop customers
changed? E stimating their age by appearance, it
seems that the average customer remained the
same, from the last half of their 4 0 s to the maj or part
of their 5 0 s.
That makes most of them baby boomers. Born
between 1 9 4 6 and 1 9 6 4 , the youngest members
of this generation are in their mid-5 0 s. The oldest
of them are in their early 7 0 s and thinking about
retirement from flying, if they haven't already. Slowly
taking their places as aircraft owners are their
offspring, known as G eneration X . Born between

M .

S P A N G L E R

1 9 6 5 and 1 9 8 4 , they are 34 to 5 3 years old, and the
first generation to grow up seriously influenced by
technology.
Among the different types of flying machines that
the FAA certifies for flight, the fleet of experimental,
amateur-built aircraft has been steadily growing.
Working with the FAA's round
numbers, there were 27 ,5 8 5
experimental aircraft ( of all
types, with 20 ,4 9 0 of them
amateur-built) in 20 1 6 , the most
current numbers available.
The FAA forecasts that there
will be 32,0 6 5 experimental
aircraft in 20 26 , an increase of
approximately 5 percent. O n the
same table, it counted 1 4 2,6 38
type-certificated piston-powered
aircraft in 20 1 6 . In 20 26 , the FAA
forecast predicts an approximate
1 0 percent distillation of the
fleet, to 1 29 ,1 0 0 aircraft.

EXPERIMENTAL,
AMATEUR-BUILT
AIRCRAFT

ARE A HYBRID
AVIONICS MARKET,
BOTH FORWARD-FIT
AND RETROFIT.

Experimentals: A hybrid market
E xperimental, amateur-built aircraft are a hybrid
avionics market, both forward-fit and retrofit. J ason
Smith, leader of the experimental team at M ontana's
Aerotronics, whose services include the building of
complete instrument panels for newly constructed
homebuilts, said, "If you have nothing to take out,
it has to be forward-fit." In this case, the aircraft
manufacturer is an individual, the factory is a home
workshop, so this manufacturer acquires avionics
from a shop rather than the equipment's original
manufacturer. And often, that equipment comes in a
custom-made plug-and-play instrument panel.
Assessing the forward-fit homebuilt market is a
challenge because there is no reliable and accurate
source of how many newly completed amateur-

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AEA Pilot's Guide 2019-2020

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of AEA Pilot's Guide 2019-2020

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AEA Pilot's Guide 2019-2020 - Intro
AEA Pilot's Guide 2019-2020 - No label
AEA Pilot's Guide 2019-2020 - Cover2
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