With only three months to go before the 2020 ADS-B deadline, avionics shops are backed up three to nine months and most expect the backlog to increase next year. The ADS-B mandate has ignited demand for panel upgrades in general and many customers are scheduling ADS-B now, and full panels later.
“I am currently scheduling installations into July of 2020. ADS-B is part of it, but we are selling new autopilots like you wouldn’t believe. Glass panels, G5s, G3X Touch, STEC 3100 autopilots, Aspen Max,” says Chuck Gallagher of Cincinnati Avionics, a shop associated with Sporty’s Pilot Shop.
But backlogs vary by the type of shop we contacted. Sarasota Avionics, for example, has six locations and installs in a wide variety of aircraft. “We’re easily three months out at every one of our locations,” says Sarasota’s Monica Gulandri. “This is what we expected. Most customers were holding out for the next greatest thing and that’s been OK, because most of those things weren’t what we were going to install anyway,” she adds. She was referring to uAvionix’s SkyBeacon and TailBeacon products.
Although meeting the deadline is looking dismal for some customers, it’s still worth a call to see what’s available. “I’ve got little holes that are one- to three-day type work that I can do. But I don’t have extended time,” said Stuart Ashenden of Yingling Aviation in Wichita. He said the shop can still schedule small jobs as soon as November.
Same at Lancaster Avionics in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. “I’ve got three different answers for you. Anything beyond ADS-B, I am booking in June 2020. If all you want to do is ADS-B, I’m right around the beginning of February. However, I have a short list where I feel I can get a number of ADS-B jobs done this calendar year. My motto is if the customer gives me latitude and no attitude, I can get it done,” says Lancaster’s Todd Adams. Like other shops, Lancaster is busy with major panel upgrades and some customers may get these done after meeting the ADS-B requirement.
As in our previous surveys, Garmin products dominate the ADS-B market by an overwhelming margin. “I would probably say 75 percent of the installs are Garmin GTX transponders, whether it be the 335 or the 345. And the remaining 25 percent are evenly divided between the Avidyne AXP products, Appareo or L-3 Lynx products,” says Brian Paugh, of Premier Avionics in Fort Wayne, Indiana. None of the shops we contacted were enthused about the uAvionix products, because of worries about Garmin’s pending lawsuit over patent infringement and concerns about reliability.
How much of the GA fleet is already ADS-B equipped remains a hard-to-resolve moving target. We reported earlier this week that some 5000 business jets will miss the 2020 deadline, according to Duncan Aviation. The Aircraft Electronics Association’s Mike Adamson told us that it estimates about 70,000 of 100,000 piston airplanes have been equipped. Given current rates of installation, there’s no chance all of those aircraft will meet the 2020 deadline.