Like emergency handheld radio transceivers, emergency satellite communication systems are finding their way onto more pilots’ flight-bag “what if” wish lists. This week, Garmin announced an update to its popular inReach Mini compact satellite-link device, with two-way texting and SOS capabilities. In the “unlikely” prospect of an off-grid forced landing outside of cellphone service, investing in a satellite-based emergency communicator can be eye-catching.
Not too long ago, the only option for communication devices outside the onboard aircraft radios and cellular networks was a satellite telephone. But satellite voice-capable phones are expensive for a backup emergency device. Service plans are expensive, and phones typically are not equipped with navigation capability that could prove invaluable in an emergency situation. Garmin’s first satellite-linked communicator was the inReach Explorer+ released in 2017, and it was very popular.
This was followed a year later by the inReach Mini, and now the Mini 2, which, although it looks almost identical, adds improved battery performance—up to 30 days’ life—an improved user interface and a built-in electronic compass. It also uses a USB-C charging plug and offers push-button SOS capability and more.
Priced at $399, opting for the updated inReach Mini 2 will add 50 bucks over the street price for the original Mini.
Looks like a nice small device but be aware there is a monthly subscription fee.
If you just need the SOS function, and not text, there are other devices (you can find them on Amazon) for comperable or less price without the monthly subscription.
Good catch.. thanks for pointing that out!
What a shame – imagine carrying such an item around for years only to find that the credit card the subscription was tied to had expired sometime in the past (after it had already racked up a multiple of the initial cost of the item).