Aspen Avionics President and CEO John Uczekaj cited three news stories during the company’s AirVenture press briefing. He also touched on Aspen’s connection to the AIRO Group and touched on supply chain issues and how Aspen is weathering this storm (spoiler alert – he said they’re doing particularly well).
The news: Garmin and Aspen are cooperating on a Supplemental Type Certificate (STC) and Technical Service Order (TSO) to allow Aspen’s displays to interface with Garmin’s GFC 600 digital autopilot. The FAA has raised even more standby instrument requirements for Aspen navigators. And Aspen, as always, offering special pricing at AirVenture.
Regarding the autopilot integration, Uczekaj said Garmin is working on the STC while Aspen is handling the TSO legwork. He pointed out that the Avidyne and Genesis autopilots currently have the ability to interface with Aspen’s browsers. “With smaller fonts [associated with newer autopilots’ symbology]light levels are all the more important.
Aspen buyers can now eliminate their sleep attitude indicator if they have a one-screen install. Two screens at height and the old-fashioned vertical speed indicator (VSI); anemometer (ASI); turn & bank; and altimeter can all get the boot, not only increasing reliability and saving maintenance costs, but also reducing weight and increasing payload.
And on the money-saving side, Aspen is offering $500 off every new Evolution display unit, including E5, MAX, Class III, and Helicopter systems through August 15, 2022.
Uczekaj discussed Aspen’s relationship with the AIRO Group, a six-company merger chaired by Dr. Chirinjeev Kathuria. He shared the stage with Uczekaj, who is COO of the AIRO Group, during the briefing. The business entity describes itself as “a multifaceted air mobility, autonomy and aerospace platform with differentiated technologies and capabilities that dynamically respond to high-growth market trends across the world. drone ecosystem with a compelling range of drone, avionics and defense training technologies and services.”
The AIRO Group, headquartered in the Washington DC area, consists of four divisions, Kathuria explained: Advanced Avionics (led by Aspen); electronic air mobility; commercial drones; and training. He said news on overall funding is expected within a week of AirVenture.
Meanwhile, Uczekaj assured the press that Aspen remains an GA-centric company and that technological advancements in the AIRO Group’s other business areas represent a two-way street. Technological advancements in drone applications and other areas serve as feeder routes to advance light aircraft flight, he said, and Aspen’s involvement gives him a prime track on many new opportunities.
Finally, when asked about supply chain challenges, Uczekaj said that while Aspen has had its share, its delivery backlog is “two to three weeks. Talk to our competition [for comparisons].” The supply chain is all about parts availability, he said, divided into two challenges: finding the parts; and trading fees. He mentioned that components that used to cost $3 have gone up to $1,100. “You can fight this in two ways,” he said. “You can buy supplies; or you can modify the design to allow for alternate parts. He also said it was important to be on the lookout for counterfeit parts from unscrupulous suppliers.
“Understand, this is going to be with us for years to come,” he said. “It’s not short term. But… we’re getting good at it.