ADS-B On The Tail: tailBeacon Is Latest ADS-B Out Solution


uAvionix says the $1999 tailBeacon is nearly a carbon copy of the wingtip-mounted skyBeacon ADS-B Out system, which is priced at $1849. The repackaged device for mounting on the tail includes both mandate-compliant ADS-B Out and a WAAS GPS (TSO is pending for the end of September 2018, uAvionix said), a pressure altitude sensor and an LED tail position light that meets TSO specs for C30c Type 3 aircraft exterior lighting. The Aviation white LED light has a 40-candela intensity and draws little current compared to the incandescent system it replaces.

Like the skyBeacon, the idea is to utilize the existing tail position light wiring (two-wire power and ground), the existing circuit breaker/fuse and mounting hardware (two screws to attach the skyBeacon to the existing light cutout). The ADS-B antenna is built onto the skyBeacon, so there is no need to install a separate L-band antenna for the ADS-B transmitter. Still, there will be installations that require more modification when replacing some tail position light assemblies.

The pressure altitude encoder in the tailBeacon interacts with the existing transponder through a patent-pending wireless interface that uAvionix calls a “power transcoder,” reading pressure altitude and current squawk code. Decoding Mode A, C and S codes through a DC power input, it’s not intended to replace the existing certified altitude digitizer.

Configuration and setup is done through the uAvionix skyBeacon Installer tablet app. Here you program the aircraft call sign, ICAO address and anonymous mode, plus the app has a performance monitoring utility so the installer can verify that the system is operational before flight testing it.

uAvionix is currently selling the experimental version of the system, called the tailBeacon EXP, for $1649, which is fair game for ADS-B mandate compliance on LSA and experimental aircraft.

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