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Friday, February 13, 2015

Jumpstart GA 2020 Initiative to Provide Affordable NextGen Avionics

Woodrow Bellamy III 

[Avionics Today 02-13-2015] The NextGen GA Fund has launched "Jumpstart GA 2020," an initiative designed to accelerate General Aviation (GA) operational equipage of rule-compliant Automatic Dependent Surveillance Broadcast Out (ADS-B Out) avionics. Under the program, the GA Fund will purchase 10,000 L-3 Lynx NGT-1000 units, which provides an FAA-approved 978 MHz Universal Access Transceiver (UAT). 
General Aviation terminal at Raleigh-Durham International Airport. 
Under the "Jumpstart GA 2020" initiative, the NextGen GA Fund — a public-private partnership managed by NEXA Capital Partners — will make the 10,000 UAT solutions available to ship to FAA-certified repair stations and distributors beginning in June 2015. The equipment will be offered on a first-come, first-serve basis on the condition that operators send in orders and install the equipment by July 1, 2016. 
“AOPA has made it clear that over 30,000 aircraft owners would park their aircraft rather than upgrade to ADS-B at current market prices, and we’re hopeful the volume purchase made possible by the GA Fund addresses these concerns,” said Michael Dyment, managing partner of the NextGen GA Fund.
The NGT-1000s will be priced at $1,599, with the added cost of installation and a GPS antenna bringing the total for operators to nearly $3,100. This is a major step forward for ADS-B equipage for the GA community ahead of the FAA's Jan. 1, 2020 mandate, which has been a long-running concern for the agency and aviation organizations in recent years. 
U.S. lawmakers originally authorized federal support of ADS-B avionics equipage under Section 221 of the FAA Modernization and Reform Act of 2012 to incentivize and accelerate compliance with the 2020 mandate though a government-backed loan guarantee program. NextGen GA Fund's ultimate goal is to support more than $1.3 billion of NextGen equipment installations for GA operators over the next decade.
During the General Aviation Manufacturer's Association (GAMA) 2015 State of the Industry event this week, GAMA President and CEO Pete Bunce discussed the issues facing the GA community in terms of equipage. 
"5,000 to equip a light general aviation aircraft is just not the right number," said Bunce, referring to the average cost of equipment and installation for GA operators. He also discussed other options operators are equipping with, including portable solutions, which he does not see as a good alternative, regardless of the lower cost of equipage. "If you do a portable you have to [ask] can I go through a development cycle? … Can I meet the FAA’s specifications and its reliability standards to always be there transmitting that GPS position? And, can I do that with a portable?” he said. “We have the best avionics manufacturers on the planet and no one believes you can do that cost effectively."  
GAMA, the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA), the Aircraft Electronics Association (AEA), and several GA avionics manufacturers are continuing to meet on a monthly basis to discuss the main issue — cost of equipage — facing the GA-flying community regarding their ability to comply with the 2020 mandate. According to data presented by GAMA this week, 9,000 of the more than 150,000 identified GA aircraft that need ADS-B solutions have upgraded with rule-compliant avionics.
"The technology from the FAA standpoint has been deployed, the ADS-B equipment invented by manufacturers costing years and millions is practical to install it works. Now, we simply have to get the equipment into every aircraft that flies in the United States — that’s the big part of the challenge. The longer we wait, the more the work piles up to the end of the mandate period, which makes the whole process very impractical," Joe Brown, newly appointed chairman of GAMA and CEO of Hartzell Propeller told State of the Industry attendees. "We don’t see any show stoppers, we think this can get done and we think we can have a much safer general aviation fleet when the equipment is onboard and flying. So do a lot of operators, 9,000 of them have already said ‘me first’ and put that equipment in their airplane and they see tangible benefits."

Jumpstart GA 2020's next goal is to expand the initiative to include another 10,000 ADS-B In configurations to provide increased functionality and operational benefits for the GA pilots, with weather and traffic information and 1090ES transponders. 

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