The FAA has certificated Aspen Avionics’ ADS-B integrated solution linking Aspen’s Evolution primary and multi-function displays with L-3’s Lynx NGT-9000 and NGT-2500 Systems. Through this unit a pilot will see an Aspen display of ADS-B weather and traffic data from either the NGT-9000 transponder model or the NGT-2500 remote UAT box. Plus, Lynx NextGen Active Traffic from the NGT-9000+ model will display active TAS traffic onto the Aspen display(s). This suite of equipment will comply with the FAA’s 2020 deadline (or MAYBE exempted later installations). The BIG NEWS is that this is a “more affordable” ($6,800) instrument rich solution.
There are a lot of pieces to NextGen and the technological hub to that wheel is the ADS-B In and Out equipment. This equipment bodes to be one of the most important, underlying technologies in the FAA’s transition to NextGen. Equipment like the Aspen system will increase the precision and reliability of satellite-based surveillance.
As shown in the above pictures the information provided by ADS-B will allow pilots to see what controllers a view of the airspace around their aircraft. The unit also will show bad weather and terrain, and receive flight information such as temporary flight restrictions. The improvement in situational awareness for pilots greatly increases safety.
The installation of the ADS-B equipment is so important because these units plus the billions being spent by the FAA for satellites, computers, communication links, etc. will improve safety dramatically, will provide needed added capacity and lower the cost to operate/maintain the ATC system. Those are big goals; so why is the unit costs a big issue?
Many of the users of NextGen have complained that the equipage costs (including other instruments mandated to be installed) on the stakeholders are not cost beneficial. This criticism is particularly true of the costs of the ADS-B In/Out equipment. In response to that capital investment debate, one proposal was propounded to create a public-private partnership to lower the acquisition costs. EASA has delayed its deadline in response to complaints.
Six months ago GAMA projected that as sales increase, the unit cost of manufacturing would lower and prices would likely decrease. The Aspen announcement of its newly certificated unit will be offered at a more affordable price appears to prove the GAMA prediction.