FreeFlight: ADS-B Prices May Be As Low As They’re Going to Get


With a massive buy of 10,000 of its low-cost RANGR Lite ADS-B products, FreeFlight Systems says the economy of scale is beginning to flatten on ADS-B and buyers waiting for further price breaks might not see them. In an interview for this podcast from the Aircraft Electronics Association Convention in Dallas on Wednesday, FreeFlight president Tim Taylor says the company has had good response to its $1995 ADS-B Out only RANGR Lite product, suggesting that under $2,000 for all the hardware may be the market sweet spot. (Add to that another $1,500 to $2,000 in installation costs.)

At AEA, FreeFlight Systems, a Texas-based company specializing in NextGen products including ADS-B, formally announced its Equip-It 2020 marketing program that includes both a RANGER Lite with Out capability and a companion product that offers the full UAT In/Out solution for $3,695 for the basic hardware.

“We had been having the debate about price versus performance and we realized the right debate to have was price versus volume,” Taylor told us. “And it’s more than just a marketing campaign. The systems are slightly different. We took some of the integration features out of our standard RANGR product line so we could reduce costs and get it down to the absolute minimum. We’re going to build 10,000 of these and make them available first-come, first serve, with deliveries around June,” he added.

Taylor also said if a customer buys the transmit-only version and wants to upgrade to the transceiver later, FreeFlight will have a path for that. The full-featured versions of FreeFlight’s UAT units display on panel-mounted equipment; the Lite version is designed to display on portables through a wireless node. The system will work with several apps, including a free version provided by FreeFlight.

“Two things are different going forward. One is the price point, which the community has said is good one,” Taylor added. Second, organizations like AOPA and EAA had been urging caution in ADS-B purchasing, but Taylor says he has been told they’ll advise would-be buyers to consider pushing the button. “Now,” Taylor says, “equipment price is not going to be the issue, the issue is going to be installation capacity. If you wait too long, than that capacity is going to have a price tag attached to it.”