Equipping a business aircraft with ADS-B capability can be a time-consuming process, often requiring several weeks to add or swap out avionics. However, Ed Hillman, director of maintenance for Mid-Ohio Aviation, found a way to minimize that impact.
When the company’s Cessna Citation Excel underwent its Phase 5 maintenance inspection last year at Duncan Aviation in Battle Creek, MI, Hillman authorized the maintenance support company to also perform the initial work toward supporting a future installation of ADS-B. The aircraft’s dual flight management system boxes were upgraded to support WAAS (wide area augmentation system) and LPV (localizer performance with vertical guidance) capabilities.
“We saved a lot of time on the back end by upgrading the boxes last year,” Hillman said.
“Everything was finished and ready to go within the three and a half weeks it took to perform the Phase 5 inspection.”
Duncan also replaced the Excel’s faulty radio management units with upgraded equipment, a maintenance item covered by the aircraft’s OEM-supported parts plan. “Those savings basically paid for the entire ADS-B installation,” Hillman added.
With the preliminary work completed, Hillman secured a slot in early 2017 for Duncan to complete the ADS-B upgrade. He also opted to have ADS-B equipment installed on the company’s Citation Bravo while it was in for paint and interior refurbishment earlier this year – another move that saved time and money.
While those savings were certainly important, having both aircraft ready ahead of the FAA’s ADS-B equipage deadline of January 2020 was Hillman’s primary consideration for having these important upgrades done now.
”The closer we get to the deadline, the harder it’s going to be to find open maintenance slots for ADS-B installations,” Hillman said. ”We knew we needed to plan for that as soon as possible. Some estimates say as many as 7,000 aircraft still need to be equipped for ADS-B, and when you factor in the time and manpower required, it’s pretty clear that we’ll be facing a significant crunch as the deadline nears.”
Hillman further noted that it wasn’t difficult to convince the company’s owner to invest in ADS-B now.
“He immediately understood that his aircraft would be grounded after December. 31, 2019 without ADS-B. Obviously, that wouldn’t be acceptable. If he can’t use his planes to get his people to the customer, and vice-versa, they aren’t helping the company make money.”
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