February 14, 2019

United Kingdom Gets Portable ADS-B IN/OUT


U.S. company uAvionix has just released SkyEcho, a portable ADS-B IN/OUT transceiver designed to the United Kingdom’s Civil Aviation Administration (CAA) standards. SkyEcho transmits an aircraft’s position, altitude, course and speed to surrounding aircraft to improve traffic awareness. SkyEcho includes a dual-band ADS-B (1090 and 978 MHz) transceiver to transmit and receive position reports from other ADS-B equipped aircraft. SkyEcho is built upon uAvionix’s popular Sentry technology, the ‘Swiss Army knife’ of portable pilot peripherals. This small device weighs in at 120 grams and delivers 12 hours of battery usage.

The U.K. is testing in-flight weather and other services over UAT (978 MHz). SkyEcho comes ready for the future with a built-in 978 MHz ADS-B receiver so that U.K. pilots can benefit from this new service. Like Nav Canada, the U.K.’s NATS is part of the Aireon consortium delivering space-based ADS-B services over 1090 MHz, excluding weather information.

The 1090 MHz transmitter has a 20-watt nominal output. Transmit functionality can be enabled or disabled from the configuration page. The ADS-B IN capability includes both 1090 MHz and 978 MHz UAT for display of live traffic and weather from a U.K. UAT trial system.

SkyEcho comes with a RAM mount, soft case and USB-C charging cable. Currently available only in the U.K., SkyEcho costs £443 (approximately C$750). As with all portable devices, SkyEcho is meant to be used to improve pilot situational awareness and as a navigational aid only and is not intended for use in IFR flight conditions.

It should be noted that SkyEcho is designed for use only in the U.K., and is only available there. It is not suitable for space-based ADS-B as the minimum power requirement is 125 watts whereas the SkyEcho puts out only 20 watts. However, that a company such as uAvionix is willing to develop products for a GA market that is smaller than Canada’s is encouraging. When Canada finally gets an ADS-B mandate, uAvionix will almost certainly be ready to offer Canadians a convenient and cost-effective solution.

With contribution from Phil Lightstone.