Developments in aviation communications and technology

An update on what’s going on in the fast-paced world of aviation communications and technology:
uAvionix achieves skyBeacon certification
uAvionix has received Technical Standard Order Authorization (TSOA) for its skyBeacon wingtip-mounted ADS-B OUT solution. The skyBeacon integrated solution consists of a total of five (5) TSOs:
  • ADS-B (TSO-C154c, Class B1S)
  • GPS (TSO-C145d, Class Beta 1)
  • Barometric altitude sensor (TSO-C88b)
  • Position Light (TSO-C30c, Type I)
  • Anti-collision light (TSO-C96a, Class II)
“skyBeacon has already become popular in the experimental and Light Sport Aircraft (LSA) categories, and is expected to be hugely popular in the certified aircraft market, too,” noted Ryan Braun, uAvionix Chief Operating Officer. “Its speedy plug and play installation provides the lowest total installed cost of ownership ADS-B OUT solution on the market. The addition of an altimeter late in the certification process introduced a small delay in the certification timeline. The additional component makes the skyBeacon able to address a larger range of aircraft – specifically those with an existing Mode S transponder. It allows skyBeacon to provide pressure altitude to surrounding traffic and ATC regardless of the radar coverage.”

“We were driven to innovate new solutions by the unique form factor of skyBeacon,” Braun continued. “This was especially true for the WAAS GPS, where no existing receiver could meet our size, cost, and performance needs. This meant both designing our own GPS, and working with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to develop a new process for certification of complex COTS solutions. This will change the way avionics are developed and certified in the future, increasing technology and lowering cost.”
STCs for multiple Cessna and Piper aircraft are expected in a few weeks’ time, at which point uAvionix will begin shipping pre-orders. The STC data and installations satisfy FAA requirements and will enable subsequent skyBeacon installations to be performed on any ‘suitable aircraft’ without an STC as a minor alteration. A ‘suitable aircraft’ is any aircraft allowing installation of the skyBeacon without airframe modification.
Technisonic has worked with Latitude Technologies to create a P25 / Satellite integration capable of supporting cross-band repeat that can interconnect a range of radio bands (VHF, UHF, 700 and 800 MHz) with satellite communications via the Iridium satellite network. Project 25 (P25) is a common set of digital protocols that when implemented, would support interoperability across radio manufacturers, according to the Technisonic website.
Technisonic makes a range of P25 airborne FM transceivers, grouped together in its TDFM-9000/9100/9200/9300 series product line. “Our specialty lies in designing radios that meet the unique communications needs of our clients,” said Jim Huddock, Technisonic’s Business Development Manager. “An EMS helicopter may have a requirement for a UHF radio, to speak on the hospital frequency, where a federal mission-based helicopter is more focused on VHF.” In either case, Technisonic interviews its customers to find out what their mission requirements are and how their radios are used, and then configures transceivers to meet their needs.
In addition to adding satellite calling and PTT functionality to their TDFM line of radios (again in partnership with Latitude Technologies), Technisonic is integrating users’ legacy non-P25 radios into their TDFM P25 radios using Multi Communications Ports (MCPs). “The MCP allows us to connect an external transceiver directly into our radio,” said Huddock. “This provides a simple, easy-to-use connection, avoiding the need to rewire audio panels.”
The Flightcell DZMx, the global voice, data, messaging and tracking solution, is to be enhanced with a built-in WiFi hotspot and router that provides a cellular broadband data connection for onboard smart devices and connected equipment without the need for a separate WiFi router installation. The WiFi antenna and components are installed within the existing DZMx housing. 
“Space is at a premium in the cockpit, which is why we designed the DZMx to be a compact all-in-one unit in the first place,” says John Wyllie, CEO Flightcell. “We’ve now provided our customers with an additional, and highly desirable, capability and at the same time we are saving them the cost, time and space that a separate installation demands.”
Flightcell said that the new capability will significantly enhance an operator’s ability to move data and information to and from the aircraft. Built-in Bluetooth allows onboard smart devices to pair and be connected to the DZMx. Mobile phone calls can be made and answered through the headset, providing pilots and crew with a hands free capability and they can listen to streaming audio.
As part of a market move into Latin America, TracPlus has partnered with Tecnologia e Suprimento de Aviação (TSA or Aviation Safety Technology), a Brazilian company based in Belo Horizonte. TSA is not only a strategic partner for this market but also adds value to TracPlus’ products and services worldwide through its integrated and modular management software FollowAir, which complements what TracPlus can do for the civil, commercial, police and military aviation industry.

Julio Matta, Sales Director for TracPlus in Latin America, commented on the collaboration: “TracPlus is very proud to have TSA as a partner, and together, we can provide the tools that the aeronautical industry needs to make the safest, most efficient and competitive companies, which are longstanding aspirations of TracPlus for its customers.”
Alongside TracPlus, TSA can help companies and organisations achieve their most efficient performance by reducing administrative errors, automating integration of operations and maintenance systems, as well as finance and administration. “Our clients have been overwhelmed with the technical quality, simplicity, and reliability of the RockAir equipment installed in their aircraft. The technical support for RockAIR users provided by TracPlus has also surpassed all expectations,” Severo Augusto Da Silva, CEO for TSA said.
Cobham has delivered the first of its Future Air Navigation (FANS) 1/A compliant AVIATOR 700D systems for integration in the C-130J Super Hercules fleets as part of the Block 8.1 upgrade programme, in a deal worth up to $40 million to Cobham over five years. The upgrade will first be installed across the fleets of the US government.
Meeting the airlifter’s future civilian airspace operational needs, the AVIATOR 700D complies to the FANS 1/A, Controller Pilot Data Link Communications (CPDLC) and voice safety service operations via the system’s cockpit data and voice channels. Providing access to separate channels for voice and data service, simultaneous voice calling and secure data transfer, the Cobham system will increase C-130J operators’ mission effectiveness with voice calls, e-mail, internet and video streaming on demand across several users simultaneously.
“Connected cockpits are rapidly changing the face of aviation and air traffic management, and includes military aircraft wishing to operate in controlled airspace. Cobham is a pioneer in this field for both airlines and military platforms,” said Paul Kahn, Sector President Cobham Communications & Connectivity.
The Block 8.1 upgrade consists of items such as updated Identification Friend or Foe (IFF); TEMPEST compliance; Automatic Dependent Surveillance Broadcast (ADS-B); a Communications, Navigation, Surveillance (CNS) /Air Traffic Management (ATM) data link; an enhanced inter-communication system; enhanced approach and landing systems; enhanced diagnostics; and additional covert lighting.