AEA Pilot's Guide 2020-2021 - 40

WAAS WAY DO I GO?
Continued from page 39

phased out at small airports." ADS-B has been mostly a
side item the past five years, while WAAS GPS upgrades
and glass cockpits replacing analog gauges are driving the
business. The company employs about 50 people spread
over five departments. With the fleet continuing to upgrade,
MU-2 acquisitions can reach prices up to $1 million.
When GPS systems are upgraded, the new units have
larger databases with a lot more information in them. The
Garmin GTN 750, for example, provides added situational
awareness with a terrain database and terrain warnings
while enabling the overlay of maps, weather and traffic on
the flight path. "You couldn't' do that before," Hensley said.
Hensley added that the owners of small businesses
find legacy business jets and turboprops to be attractive
because they are cost effective. The airplane becomes
part of their business and part of their family and helps the
business grow. The MU-2 experienced a spate of accidents
when it was first introduced, which Hensley said was
due to inadequate pilot training. Piston pilots now get the
proper training upgrading to the turboprop, and the safety
record of the aircraft is one of the best in the industry, he
noted. And the MU-2 provides jet performance without the
cost as it burns only 100 gallons in climb and 80 gallons of
fuel in cruise.
On the IJSC website, the company was recently
advertising a 1978 MU-3B-36A with 5,300 hours for sale for
$740,000 and a 1976 MU-2B-26 with about 4,800 hours had
just been sold for $325,000.
IJSC is also replacing old gyro systems with digital
attitude and heading reference systems and is doing
digital to analog converter work with existing systems and
autopilots. Some upgrades involve air data and AHRS
combined into one box. "The nice thing about that is it has
less components, and the weight savings and reduced fuel
burn increases the useful load," he said.
Hensley said IJSC is working with Garmin to certify
the new G600 TXi display on the MU-2. It has also
worked with Collins to develop an ADS-B capability for
the Avanti 2 equipped with Pro Line 21. "We are one of
the only shops that actually does avionics upgrades on
the Piaggio," Hensley said. He noted that the aircraft is all
about performance, which can cruise at 41,000 feet and is
inexpensive to operate. But he added that WAAS upgrades
to Garmin 430 and 530 systems are being requested less

often by customers. These systems are becoming dated,
but Garmin said in an email it still supports the 430 and 530.
Mitsubishi purchased IJSC to help support the MU-2
fleet, and these aircraft visit the service center from as
far away as Canada, Brazil, Germany and New Zealand.
"The original business plan was to service aircraft
within a 500-nautical mile radius of our facility, but it just
continued to grow," Hensley said. In addition to MU-2s
and Piaggios, IJSC services all forms of turboprops and
light jets.
With the ADS-B installation wave going away, Hensley
expects to be doing digital engine display upgrades to
get rid of all those analog gauges. This will add another
screen, perhaps as a backup to the primary screen.
Audio panels will also be going digital, while digital
autopilots will replace old ones and replace clutches and
old servos with full-digital solutions.
Another shop owner who endorses WAAS for
navigation not just to comply with the ADS-B mandate
is Dallas DeVilbiss, general manager at Coastal Winds
Avionics located at Mobile Regional Airport in Alabama.
DeVilbiss and his partners started this new business in
March 2019, and the ADS-B mandate has provided a bit
of a tailwind.
The Coastal Winds team that started the business has
50 years of avionics retrofit experience in the industry.
DeVilbiss worked at Southern Avionics for 20 years when
it was based at Mobile's Downtown Airport.
"There is no mandate for WAAS equipage, but it
makes sense for everyone to navigate as precisely
as possible," DeVilbiss said. "I don't know that people
should have WAAS (and it isn't mandated); I just feel it
is a good idea because it is safe. It is along the lines of
having real-time weather or traffic information; WAAS
navigation is one more layer of safety. It's like having
money at a carnival. I'd rather have it and not need it
than need it and not have it. If I make a mental mistake,
I want to turn to sharp instruments to back me up. If you
are going to fly IFR, why limit yourself?"
The business benefit of WAAS navigation comes from
keeping his customers safe and getting to see them
come into the shop again. He points out that if WAAS is
just in the transponder for ADS-B, it has no navigation
benefit. DeVilbiss said anyone who has been in the
avionics business for 25 years has heard tragic stories
of general aviation accidents. "I do all I can to make sure
my customers don't become one of those stories."

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AEA Pilot's Guide 2020-2021

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of AEA Pilot's Guide 2020-2021

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