Tag Archives: Chicago Executive Airport

60 Years at PWK and Still Going Strong

Do You Know Lou Wipotnik?

There aren’t too many things around PWK that date back to 1957. The old timers still call it Pal-Waukee Airport and will probably never stop.

The airport’s original control tower built above hangar 4 in the 60s was torn down years ago and replaced by a more modern structure where controllers keep an eye on things from high above, just east of Signature Flight Support’s ramp. In the 50s, the only way for an airplane on the ground to reach Runway 16 for a south takeoff was to wait for a gap in traffic and scoot the opposite way up the runway for a quick turnaround. Back in the late 50s and early 1960s, student pilots were often seen practicing their landings and takeoffs on Runways 24 Left and 30 Left, surfaces turned into taxiways decades ago. In the airport’s busiest days of the late 1960s and early 1970s, takeoffs and landings often hovered between 200,000-225,000 each year. In 2016, airport traffic totaled about 79,000.

If you’ve been hanging around the airport for any length of time however, there’s one fellow you might have seen or perhaps even met … Lou Wipotnik. He first came to PWK in May of 1957 when he learned to fly at Sally’s Flying School on the east side of the airport. Don’t look for Sally’s though either … the place has been closed at least 30 years.

Lou earned his Flight Instructor rating in 1968 and has been teaching in airplanes & helicopters ever since, having worked at most of the schools on the airport at one time or another. He currently instructs with Fly There and Leading Edge Flying Club at hangar five on the west side of the field and flies as an independent instructor with aircraft owner pilots at PWK.

Lou was named the FAA’s U.S. Flight Instructor of the Year in 1996, as well as having reached the Master Flight Instructor Emeritus status in 2016. He certainly hasn’t been slowing down any, even after 60 years at PWK either. Lou was inducted into the Illinois Aviation Hall of Fame in May of last year.

A longtime member of the Chicago Airport Pilots Association, Lou served two terms as club President between 2001-2004 and has been active with the Civil Air Patrol for 32 years. Lou still teaches a variety of aviation safety seminars in the Chicagoland area as a FAASTeam Representative for the FAA FSDO #3.

“Lou is a go to guy for aviation education. He always replies in the affirmative if you need a speaker and has donated his time and effort over and over and over again. I remember especially his aviation club from before 1986 with regular tests to keep the pilots sharp and his great IFR presentations at the 99s Safety Seminar. So glad he’s shared his expertise with so many for so long and so well.  Congrats LOU on the first half of your career 😋.”

Madeleine Monaco, President, Chicago Executive Pilots Association

What Are Your Kids Doing This Summer?

If you have young people around your house, you probably know the number of summer jobs for kids continues to dwindle. The ones that do come along are often boring minimum wage positions too.

But what if your teenager was offered the chance to earn some money AND gather some valuable work experience … at well … an airport?

Here’s that big opportunity …Click here for details

 

Mr. Abbott Goes to Tokyo

Mr. Abbott Goes to Tokyo

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Jamie Abbott speaks to EMAS seminar audience in Tokyo last month

Late in September, Chicago Executive Airport Executive Director, Jamie Abbott, was invited to speak about EMAS, the engineered material arresting system installed on both ends of the airport longest runway 16/34. EMAS is designed to snag an airplane that normally might have run off the end of the runway, possibly spilling on to nearby highways. The airport’s EMAS was just installed last fall.

The seminar was organized to share information between an airport operator like PWK and a potential Zodiac Aerospace customer. Zodiac, the original designer of the EMAS, covered all travel expenses for Mr. Abbott’s trip. While this kind of invite normally wouldn’t raise anyone’s interest, this one did, because Zodiac’s customer was in Tokyo. In fact, the customer team was actually comprised of the Japan Civil Aeronautics Bureau, the Regional Civil Aeronautics Bureau, Narita International Airport and Japan Ministry of Defense. In all, about 50 people were in attendance. The team from Japan was trying to decide whether or not to install EMAS at Tokyo’s Narita International airport.

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Falcon 20 resting in the EMAS bed at the south end of the airport last January

EMAS is constructed of light concrete bricks that crumble beneath the weight of an aircraft, quickly slowing the machine to a halt, usually with minimal damage to the airplane. EMAS bricks safely stopped a Boeing 747 and an MD-11 aircraft when they overran runways at New York’s JFK airport some years ago. With the paint on Executive airport’s new EMAS barely dry last January, the system was put to the test about 4 a.m. when a Falcon 20 cargo jet struck the barrier at the south end of the airport after it was unable to stop while attempting to land on runway 16. The aircraft was barely scratched and there were no injuries to either of the two pilots.

With the training for airport and local firefighting crews still fresh, emergency crews responded quickly with each element of the incident response working just as expected. The aircraft was pulled out of the barrier later that day to be made ready to fly again.

The EMAS system, while still serviceable, did require repairs in order to bring it back to 100 percent strength. That meant ordering replacement blocks and scheduling crews to handle the repairs. Of course Executive airport had no experience with the process of repairing the EMAS, which meant quite a bit of interaction with insurance companies, the FAA and EMAS creator Zodiac Aerospace. These interactions were precisely what the people in Japan wanted to hear more about.

Mr. Abbott said the FAA spoke first about why U.S. airports have runway safety areas (RSA) and how valuable a product like EMAS can be to airports that don’t have the real estate for a standard RSA, like Executive. “Then they turned it over to me to explain how and why we chose the product,” Abbott explained.

“I also spoke about how we paid for the EMAS and details about the construction process, as well as how to inspect the system and maintain it.” In all, about 50 people attended the Tokyo event that was presented to the audience mainly through a Japanese translator.

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MD-11 rests in JFK EMAS bed

When asked why it was important enough to bring our Executive Director to Japan, Abbott said, “I think because our use of the EMAS barrier by that Falcon was such a textbook case. Everything worked just the way it was intended.” Abbott said there seemed to be tremendous benefits for the Japanese in the airport operator-to-airport operator kind of format used during the event.

The Low Down on Drones That Every Operator Needs to Know

Phantom 3Part 107 Drone Rule is Here

In case you missed the news, the FAA last week made Part 107, governing the commercial use of drones, the law of the land. Part 107, containing the operational and safety rules for drones, is expected to make it easier to organize and certify the pilots who operate them. From this point forward, commercial drone operators must possess a special-issue remote pilot operator certificate to fly an unmanned aerial system (UAS) weighing less than 55 pounds. UAS is the FAA’s term, for what the rest of us have been calling drones.

Hobbyist operators – people who will not be paid for flying – are not required to be licensed, although they are still expected to understand the operational guidelines that apply to that segment, such as a prohibition against any flights within 5 miles of an airport, no flights above 400 feet AGL and no flying over crowds of people such as at public events. The agency organized hobbyist guidelines for distribution here, Fly for Fun.

For commercial operators, Part 107 eliminates the need to file a time-consuming waiver application before each and every flight operation. One major exception to that rule is also flight within 5 miles of an airport. Even for commercially licensed drone pilots, this kind of flying is prohibited, until the operator receives a waiver from the FAA specifically approving the work.

Becoming a Remote Pilot Operator

There are two paths to licensing, one if the operator has never held a pilot certificate and another for airmen that already possess an active pilot certificate. Newcomers, who are at least 16 years of age, should expect some studying in order to pass an FAA Knowledge Exam administered at a local testing center at a cost of about $150. Following that test, a TSA background check is required before the certificate’s issued.

Current pilots proceed along a different path, being required to complete the FAA’s Part 107 UAS online training course and an identity check before they’ll see a temporary airmen certificate. Licensed pilots may be a bit surprised to learn their new certificate will not be tacked on their current one and will also carry a new number specific to the “Remote Pilot” certificate.

A Little Help From Your Friends

Despite the issuance of Part 107, many drone operators and potential operators are bound to have questions about what they can and should do to operate within federal guidelines and remain safely separated from manned aircraft.IMG_1189 2

On September 12, Chicago Executive airport is pleased to help in that quest for knowledge by working with Vortex UAS and Atlantic Aviation to present an hour-long session on the basics of operating a drone both commercially and as a hobbyist.

The session begins at 7 PM at Atlantic Aviation’s hangar, 1011 S. Wolf Rd and is offered free of charge to anyone interested in drones. In order to be sure there’s room for everyone, pre-registration is required.

More information on the Sept. 12 event is available via e-mail at rmark@chiexec.com or by calling the airport’s communications coordinator, Rob Mark at 847-537-2580, ext. 117.

 

Life Inside Fence

Life Inside the Fence

Despite the tall steel security fences that seem ready to halt people from any angle they might approach the airport, we actually organize quite a few events, many of which you don’t need to be a pilot to attend.

Take a look at what’s coming up, as well as a few of the happenings you might have missed and you may quickly realize that there are quite a few good things taking place just down the road.Flyer- Top Picture

4th of July Weekend

One of our biggest upcoming events is the annual 5K Rock-n-Run the Runway set to begin in the early morning hours of July 3 that allows runners to see the airport from an incredible perspective, while they run of course. Pre-registration is encouraged. Later that day, the airport gates on the east side of the airport will reopen at 5 pm to begin a night of food, music, fun and fireworks, all at no cost to visitors.

Airport Tours

IMG_0203During the past few months, we’ve conducted nearly a dozen tours of the airport for scouting organizations and other civic groups. These usually take about an hour and include a local guide who is ready to explain the intricacies of daily life at Chicago Executive, as well as offer visitors a chance to see a variety of aircraft up close. If your group of eight or less would like to arrange a future tour, call the main airport number 847-537-2580, ext. 117.

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Young Eagles Offers Free Flights to Kids Between 8-17

Most of us who work on the airport remember our first encounter with an airplane, probably when we were just kids. The EAA, the people who throw the big airshow in Oshkosh every year, (begins July 25th) organized the Young Eagles as a way to offer kids their first ride in an airplane. Best of all, it doesn’t cost the kids or their parents a penny to take part. Both the airplanes and the pilots who fly them, are donated by a flock of local aviators dedicated to the Young Eagles movement at PWK.Young Eagles

The next Young Eagles Rally happens later this month on Saturday morning, June 25th at Signature Flight Support on the east side of the airport near the control tower. In order to make sure there is a seat for everyone who wants one, preregistration is encouraged by calling 847-484-7142. Leave a message on the voicemail and a volunteer will call back to schedule the flight. But don’t throw away that phone number. Once you’re child is registered, you’ll want to call that number after 7:30 am on the 25th to be sure weather won’t get in the way of the flight.

 

Stearman Bi-Plane Gives Vets a View From Above

The good folks at Signature Flight Support opened their doors last week to a number of veterans of the Korean Conflict and WWII. Thanks to the Ageless Aviation Dreams Foundation, they were all able to see the north shore from the front seat of a 1930’s era Stearman.

Here’s how WGN-TV covered the event, as well as Flying magazine. IMG_0937

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Nissan Night

We were pleased to be able to help the Chicagoland Nissan dealers a few weeks ago when they wanted to introduce their newest hot car to dozens of Nissan fans. The event unveiled the 2017 Nissan GTR, 545 hp hooked up to an all-wheel drive chassis. We just happened to have an empty hangar on the west side of the airport that fit the event perfectly. And just to make sure visitors didn’t forget where they were, One Aviation’s Ken Ross brought his airplane into the hangar to accent the evening.
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Pilot’s Association Breakfast

Pancake breakfasts have long been an aviation tradition. This past weekend, the Chicago Executive Pilots Association held their annual event on the northeast corner of the airport. Nearly 60 people attended and spent the morning wolfing down an endless supply of flapjacks and eggs, while they also marveled at a few of the local airplanes on display. Members of the airport board stopped by and spent a few hours having breakfast and learning all they could about the men and women who park their airplanes with us. Quite a few non-pilots who stopped in to enjoy the event as well.

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Airplanes, Airspace & Chicago Executive Airport

Terminal ChartTo those on the ground, airspace is invisibly boundless. All that changes in an airplane. To make flying safe for pilots, their passengers, and people on the ground , the sky is subdivided into unseen slices delineated by altitude and distances from specific points on the ground, like airports. In each of five airspace categories, pilots and aircraft must meet specific training, equipment, and procedural requirements, from weather and visibility minimums to getting clearance from air traffic control before crossing one of these invisible dividing lines.

Naturally, the more airplanes and airports there are in a given area, the more complex the airspace, like that which covers Chicagoland. O’Hare International (ORD) anchors the angular funnel that is Class B controlled airspace, which is roughly 10 nautical miles in diameter where it touches the ground. When measured east to west, the top of the funnel, at 10,000 feet, is 60 nautical miles in diameter. If O’Hare was the only airport covered by this funnel, guiding airliners to and from it would be a simple matter. But it is one of roughly 16 public and private aerodromes, one of which, Chicago Midway (MDW) is encompassed with its own bubble of Class C controlled airspace.

Looking at the Chicago Terminal Area Chart above, Chicago Executive Airport (PWK) is easy to find. It is in the notch cut into the 5-to-10-nautical mile ring that encircles O’Hare. That cutout raises the floor of Class B airspace, entry into which requires an air traffic control clearance, from 1,900 feet in the rest of the 5-10-mile ring to 3,000 feet, as do the corner slices adjacent to the PWK notch.  Those wide blue tinted lines cutting through the rings denote the recommended paths and altitudes for pilots flying under visual flight rules beneath the Class B airspace.

And it is a busy airspace funnel. The FAA’s Air Traffic Activity System tracks and reports the number of operations (takeoffs and landings) at airports with control towers and the number of airplanes fed to those airports by the air traffic control facility responsible for the airspace, which for Chicagoland is located in Elgin. In 2015, it handled 1,248,503 operations, with 782,905 of them being airliners, most of which were on their way to O’Hare or Midway. That same year Elgin routed 318,434 air taxi (aka charter flights) and 110,407 general aviation operations to their destinations.

PWK NotchPlugging Chicago Executive Airport into the Air Traffic Activity System showed that in 2015 its control tower handled 76,901 operations. Of that number, the FAA classified the majority of them “IFR Itinerant,” meaning the airplanes taking off or landing were going to or coming from some other airport. Of the 34,188 such operations in 2015, general aviation accounted for 21,719 and air taxi (charter) tallied 12,376. It’s a busy place that is a notched neighbor of an even busier place.

The point is that each operation represents an airplane that’s going someplace, either starting or concluding its flight. The floor of the Class B airspace over Chicago Exec starts at 3,000 feet and climbs to 10,000 feet. Nearly all business jets depart PWK on an instrument flight plan. Before takeoff, air traffic control  clears them through and out of Class B airspace on a specific departure route that keeps them safely separated from all the other airplanes flying in the funnel. ATC reverses the process for airplanes bound for Chicago Exec.

When the weather is good, most of the other general aviation traffic, from people flying their own planes on business or for pleasure and newcomers learning to fly, stay out of Class B airspace by flying beneath its floor. Over Chicago Exec, that’s 3,000 feet, but directly east or west it quickly descends to 1,900 feet with steps down in the adjacent transition areas. So when you look up at the sound of an airplane flying over, see no other airplanes in the immediate vicinity, and wonder why it is so low, remember that the pilot is avoiding the invisible layers of the Class B airspace, and that this single airplane is just one of more than a million making its way to or from Chicagoland every year.

Summer Runway Closures Detailed

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About a month from now, during the first week of June, PWK will become a beehive of construction activity.

Some 14 years after runway 16/34 was completely reconstructed, recent condition surveys tell us it’s time to resurface the runway again. Annoying as the inconvenience of runway construction disruptions might be, the thought of a piece of pavement crumbling beneath an aircraft is a safety threat that can’t be ignored.

In addition to runway 16/34, all adjacent taxiway turnoffs, such as K2, K3, L2, L3 etc. will also be resurfaced. Runway 12/30 and 6/24 will operate normally for the most part, although at times during the summer, there will be work where those landing areas intersect runway 16/34 in order to prevent most service interruptions in the future when it’s the two shorter runways turn for resurfacing.

In order to minimize interruptions, construction crews will only work on runway 16/34 over the weekends, weather permitting, beginning at 10 pm on Friday nights with the runway reopening by 6 am the following Monday. The work is scheduled to most likely begin June 3rd and run until mid to late September. Crews will not work the Fourth of July weekend, which means the Run the Runway and city event schedules will not be affected.

Ninety percent of the project’s funding is coming from the FAA, with another five percent from the State of Illinois and the final five percent being paid directly by the airport. That means no community tex dollars are used for this project.

Federal guidelines demand the runway 16 ILS is shut down temporarily during the entire project, from June through September. The airport’s RNAV GPS and VOR runway 16 instrument approaches will continue to operate normally. PWK Runway Rehab

Electrical improvements will include all new lighting cables and new runway edge lighting. Because the construction work means shaving the top three to four inches off the old pavement, crews will eliminate any possible bumps and keep the runway within FAA tolerances during the work by spreading any inconsistencies in the pavement over a 30-foot long piece of the surface. The new surface will also be re-striped after each weekend session.

At some point late in the construction season, the intersections where 16/34 crosses 6/24 and 12/30 will also require work dictating a complete closure of all runways during at least two weekends. Once all paving is complete, construction will be halted for three weeks to allow the asphalt to cure before the final runway grooving and striping with fresh reflective beads begins.

Have a question? E-mail us here, or comment below and we’ll do our best to get you an answer ASAP.

Airport 101: Pavement Markings Keep Pilots in Line

PWK-59Chicago Executive Airport is one of thousands of airports that dot the American landscape. Each of them is different, but pilots have little trouble navigating around them because each of them use standardized pavement markings on the taxiways and runways that safely and efficiently guide them from the ramp to the sky. (Although they didn’t offer much help to the runners who raced about the airport several years ago, but they did get to see them at close range.)

Runway markings are white, and the elements employed depend on the type of approach pilots make to it. Runways with visual approaches, where the pilot eyeballs his arrival, has the fewest markings, the runway number, which is its magnetic heading to the nearest 10 degrees, and a centerline. These are on all runways. If the strip is 4,000 feet or longer or used by jets, it will have a visual aiming point, two broad white stripes on either side of the centerline approximately 1,000 feet from the threshold.

If it is intended for commercial use, markings (either a series of longitudinal or one lateral stripe) identify the pavement suitable for landing. A number of airports, like Chicago Exec, have displaced thresholds, usually to ensure an airplane’s safe approach to touchdown. Arrows on the pavement point to where the legal landing area begins.

All runways served by a nonprecision instrument approach, which in bad weather provides horizontal guidance to the runway, have these four markings. Chicago Exec has precision instrument approaches leading to both ends of Runway 16, which also provides vertical guidance to the pavement, which is why it has a touchdown zone. The rectangular bars are arranged in symmetrical pairs spaced 500 feet apart. As the number of bars decreases, so does the length of the remaining runway. Precision runways also have side stripes.

PWK-34All taxiway markings are yellow, and a centerline and markings denoting holding positions are common to all of them. A continuous strip 6 to 12 inches wide, the centerline does not guarantee wingtip clearance with other aircraft or obstacles. A line indicating the edge of the taxiway is applied when it does not correspond to the end of pavement.

Chicago Exec has an enhanced centerline, yellow dashes that parallel the continuous centerline, which tells pilots they are approaching a runway holding position and should be slowing down and preparing to stop, or hold short of the runway or intersections. Hold-short markings have two solid stripes on one side and two dashed lines on the other. Airplanes must stop when approaching the solid lines, which are on the taxiway side of a runway intersection. They may continue without stopping when on the dashed-line side, which they face when exiting the runway after landing.

Solid white lines on either side of a dashed centerline denote the edges of vehicle roadways that cross pavement also intended for aircraft. Some airports also use “zipper” markings, alternating white blocks. In either case, aircraft have the right of way. A thick white block on the pavement denotes where vehicles must stop at intersecting roadways or before crossing taxiways or other operational areas.

Working in concert with an airport’s pavement markings are a variety of signs of different colors that tell pilots where they are on the airport, and which way they should turn to reach their desired destination whether it is the departure end of a runway or a parking area. We’ll introduce them in our next Airport 101.

EMAS: Good as New

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The early morning hours of January 26, 2016

Airports are labor intensive businesses. Every time you turn around, there always seems to something that needs attention.

A runway check each morning is easy enough to point out a broken runway light or two, or patch a piece of crumbling taxiway pavement. Sometimes though, the work’s a bit more involved, like when an airplane ends up somewhere we hope it wouldn’t, like a few months ago when a Falcon 20 landing on runway 16 ran through the engineered materials arresting system (EMAS) at the south end of the airport. The crushable blocks of this new-age runway safety system, did their job and halted the airplane with minimum damage to the airplane and zero damage to the pilots.

The EMAS engagement did leave a pretty glaring hole in the block structure though, something the airport fixed last week with the help of Boland Construction out of New York, a company experienced at EMAS repairs. The work was planned for eight nights of runway closures from 10 pm until 6 am the next morning. But time is money and airports and the businesses that depend upon us don’t make much when the main runway is shut down. The basic plan was to complete as much work each night safely and hope to maybe shave a night off the calendar which would mean less disruption for users.

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Today, the end of the runway’s all spic and span. Photo courtesy Lee Hogan

On Monday evening, the first barricades went up to protect workers and warn pilots again the runway should not be used. Boland’s nine employees removed a number of extra EMAS blocks that looked questionable on second inspection and used torches to loosen the adhesive that originally held the blocks in place. Time to call it a night.

Tuesday’s efforts were rained out, but everyone was back on Wednesday at 10 pm when the new blocks were put in place. By Thursday night, there wasn’t much to do except caulk the blocks – just like your bathroom tile – and add the new yellow striping. By Friday morning, it was time to coordinate with the control tower to keep aircraft away and allow everything time to cure. By Saturday morning, the long runway was open for business.

In the end, the teams managed to shave three full nights of work from the project which translated into increased runway availability for airport tenants and transient operators and it was back to business as usual.

Along with the runway, the 16 instrument landing system (ILS) was also brought back to life without the need for another flight check. Thanks for your patience everyone.

 

A Week of Great Airport Events

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Hangar 11 was busier than it has been in some time.

JetSmarter Party at Hangar 11

In case you missed some of the action this past week, both airport people and a number of star-like visitors gathered around the airport to learn about.

Last Friday night, hangar 11 became the center of attention for dozens of people cheering on the launch of JetSmarter. The night was highlighted by a visit from comedian Jenny McCarthy and her husband Donnie Wahlberg. Note the accompanying photo with our own Signature Flight Support honcho Al Palicki.

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Donnie Wahlberg, Jenny McCarthy and Signature Flight Support’s station manager Al Palicki

JetSmarter is making private air travel accessible through a mobile app that seamlessly connects travelers to private jets at attractive fares worldwide, in real-time. The company has also formed links with local helicopter companies to  speed the hook up for quicker transfers between downtown and the airports JetSmarter may serve, such as Chicago Executive, DuPage, Waukegan and of course, Chicago O’Hare and Midway.

Avidyne Explains ADS-B

Automatic Dependent Surveillance Broadcast, better known as ADS-B in airplane talk, is a new system the allows aircraft anywhere to talk to air traffic control without using traditional radar systems. Radar is expensive to operate and ADSB is not.

Avidyne’s regional rep Ryan Paul was on hand Saturday for the monthly Leading Edge Flying Club breakfast, this month also joined by a number of members from the Chicago Executive Pilots Association. About 50 people attended the hour-long session in which Ryan explained the intricacies of deciding what kind of equipment to add to a general aviation airplane and at what cost.

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Avidyne’s Ryan Paul

For aircraft owners, the real benefit of ADS-B will come once a new satellite system, soon to be launched by Aerion, allows aircraft to be tracked anywhere on the face of the earth, including over vast areas of ocean or in the deepest of the Amazon. For local pilots, installing ADS-B in a Beechcraft Bonanza or Cirrus SR-22 will offer a host of benefits including the ability to track other aircraft in the sky and to download radar weather reports. The FAA requires that all aircraft operating at airports like PWK be equipped with ADS-B by 2020.

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50 people showed up for the combined LEFC and CEPA breakfast with Avidyne

Everyone involved in airplanes knows that nothing in our industry is cheap. GA aircraft operators are still hoping the cost to equip with an ADS-B unit will drop prior to 2020. Ryan explained that while there may be a few sales here and there from the electronics manufacturers like Avidyne, the real issue is going to be finding an avionics shop to install the equipment. In some cases, the switch to the newer ADS-B equipment might be quick, a bit like taking your car to ABT for a new stereo. In others, an aircraft could be in the shop for a week or longer. Ryan also explained that as the 2020 deadline approaches, the few shops capable of installing the new equipment will be busier and busier in a last minute rush to update. And if the airplanes don’t have ADS-B by 2020, they will be grounded until the equipment is installed.

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