uAvionix Developing Diversity ADS-B Device

This is the current skyBeacon, not the upcoming skyBeacon X.

Following the concept of the skyBeacon, uAvionix is developing another wingtip-mounted ADS-B Out solution featuring antenna diversity. Called the skyBeacon X, the unit will employ dual antennas—hence the diversity name—with one facing down and one facing upward. Certification is expected in 2021.

The motivation for the new device is that NAV Canada is likely to use the Aireon satellite system to transmit and receive ADS-B information, rather than stick to a ground-based system like the FAA is mandating starting in 2020. As a result, the skyBeacon X will have dual antennas so that it can communicate with both satellite and ground-based stations to send position data for traffic management and receive traffic and weather products for the pilot.

As on the skyBeacon, the new X model will fit on a wingtip and replace nav or nav/strobe assemblies already in place. Each module includes a WAAS GPS position source, Mode S transponder, a barometric altimeter, and LED position and strobe lights.

“Clearly there is a technical challenge here that uAvionix is well equipped to solve,” states Christian Ramsey, uAvionix president. “We specifically designed skyBeacon and tailBeacon to target a low cost of installation, and we are doing it again with skyBeacon X. We’ve been approached by Canadian pilots asking if we can help address their needs.”

Fortunately, there’s plenty of time to develop the skyBeacon X. Canada isn’t slated to demand full diversity performance for GA until 2023.

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Marc Cook
Marc Cook is a veteran special-interest journalist who started as a staffer at AOPA Pilot in the late 1980s. Marc has built two airplanes, an Aero Designs Pulsar XP and a Glasair Aviation Sportsman, and now owns a 180-hp, steam-gauge-adjacent GlaStar based in western Oregon. Marc has 5000 hours spread over 200-plus types and four decades of flying.


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