Guest Blog: A Bench Tech’s Thoughts on USB Device Interference in Aircraft

A Few Thoughts on USB Device Interference in Aircraft

Jim Karpowitz, Avionics Technician

A few years back I attended an evening concert by a wonderful artist whose music I very much enjoy. That particular night, however, the person sitting next to me insisted on singing along with every song. This individual was enthusiastic but was also tone deaf and monotonic. The skill of the artist was no match for the caterwauling coming from the seat next to me. As a musician myself, the dissonance was at the threshold of pain and the only way I could enjoy the concert was to move to another seat. In other words, I had to get clear of the noise source to receive the desired signal.

This is how your avionics feel in the presence of consumer grade portable devices and power supplies that have a tendency to radiate electromagnetic interference, or EMI. EMI has become a serious concern in a number of industries because of radiated interference from power supplies, lighting systems, computer systems and peripherals and other noise sources creating interference to everything from television and radio broadcast to wireless microphone systems to amateur and commercial communications.

Avionics are not immune to interference either. In the aircraft environment, the use of portable digital devices has increased greatly over the last few years and these devices can and do generate substantial amounts of interference. I have diagnosed numerous cases of interference and have found that cigarette lighter USB power supplies are some of the greatest offenders, often dropping incredible amounts of interference within the nav and com bands. The result can be anything from intermittent squelch break to serious interference with desired signal reception.

Often people will try to address the intermittent squelch break issue by turning up the squelch threshold. It’s the wrong approach, rather like hanging a candle in an outhouse. The first rule of noise mitigation is to deal with the interference at the source. I cannot overstress the importance of addressing the interference itself rather than masking it in the receiver. Often this means investing in devices (USB supplies, for example) that have gone through the process of testing and approval for aircraft use, giving the user some assurance that a) it does not interfere with on-board systems and b) on-board systems won’t interfere with it, to say nothing of testing for safety issues such as overload and fire protection.

We all want to save our dollars where possible, but trying to save money by using untested/unknown devices is penny wise and dollar foolish. Some consumer grade devices may interfere, some don’t. The point is, without some level of testing and certification, it’s a complete crap shoot, and aviation is no place to be rolling the dice.

Jim Karpowitz is an avionics technician in Wisconsin.

G1000 NXi Adds Integration With Blackhawk Engine+ Upgrade for King Air 300 and King Air 350

Our G1000® NXi flight deck is now available for integration with the Blackhawk Aerospace XP67A Engine+ Upgrade for the King Air 300 and King Air 350, adding a significant benefit to those looking to maximize these aircraft. Additionally, we have expanded its Supplemental Type Certificate (STC) approval to now include King Air 350 aircraft with a max gross weight of 16,500 lbs.1, bringing enhanced capability to operators looking to maximize payload and efficiency.

“We are pleased to offer this new Blackhawk engine interface with the G1000 NXi flight deck for the King Air 300 and 350 models,” said Carl Wolf, Garmin vice president of aviation sales and marketing. “In doing so, we’ve answered our customers’ requests to include this engine upgrade interface to our system, which will even further improve performance for the King Air 300 and 350 models. Additionally, we have now certified the G1000 NXi flight deck in the high gross weight configuration for the King Air 350, which will significantly benefit special missions operators, or any other operator who has been seeking this higher gross weight capability, along with G1000 NXi in the cockpit.”

Blackhawk Aerospace Engine Support

The Blackhawk Aerospace XP67A Engine+ Upgrade for the King Air 300 includes two factory-new Pratt & Whitney PT6A-67A engines and Hartzell 5-bladed composite propellers, combined to deliver maximum cruise speeds as high as 343 knots true air speed (KTAS) with an initial rate of climb up to 4,000 feet per minute (FPM). This performance increase results in only 19 minutes to climb from sea- level to flight-level 350 – half the time compared to a King Air 300 without this upgrade. Blackhawk Aerospace is a popular provider of King Air upgrades, already offering an engine upgrade for the King Air 350 that integrates with the G1000 NXi.

“There are so many advantages in upgrading legacy King Air’s with modern engineering marvels from Garmin and Blackhawk,” said Edwin Black, Blackhawk senior vice president of sales and marketing. “The Garmin G1000 NXi is arguably the most sophisticated, user-friendly, and light-weight avionics masterpiece ever certified for the King Air market. It is rewarding to work closely with the Garmin team to empower our mutual customers with the most compelling investments an operator can make to maximize performance and safety.”

Pilot flying in King Air equipped with G1000 NXi
Garmin G1000 NXi for King Air

Increased gross weight STC

With the latest G1000 NXi approval, King Air 350 owners and operators can now take advantage of an increased payload, providing significant performance enhancements that can prove to be particularly beneficial to special missions operators. Along with the separate STC modifications, support for G1000 NXi equipped King Air aircraft is now available via an enablement.

The G1000 NXi integrated flight deck upgrade for existing G1000-equipped King Air 300 and King Air 350 is available immediately through select Garmin dealers. King Air 300 and 350 owners and operators can easily upgrade to the G1000 NXi with minimal aircraft down time and panel disruption as the displays preserve the same footprint and connectors, so panel modifications are not required. The upgraded components of the G1000 NXi also come with a two-year warranty, which is supported by our award-winning avionics product support team. For additional information regarding the G1000 NXi upgrade for the King Air 300 and King Air 350, contact Scott Frye at, or visit The Blackhawk Aerospace XP67A Engine+ Upgrade for the King Air 300 and King Air 350 is available immediately through Blackhawk Aerospace, and the increased gross weight STC for the King Air 350 is available from Textron Aviation.

  1. This STC has been shown to be compatible with Textron Heavyweight Kit Installation, part number 130-4030-0001, 130-4030-0003 or 130-4030-0005 (as applicable by aircraft serial number), for B300 serial number FL-584 through FL-1030 (excluding FL-954 and FL-1010) and B300C serial number FM-25 through FM-65 or with production Textron B300 and B300C Heavyweight aircraft.

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8 Benefits of Using Tablets as Displays in Off-Highway and Industrial Machines

The trend is reversing for displays in off-road rugged equipment. Instead of incorporating lots of control logic into display systems, it’s going to become much simpler.

The preeminence of the display as a compute source on the machine, rather than a simple operator interface, was born more of convenience rather than an optimal machine control architecture. When more complex display terminals began to emerge on the market, many of those terminals were utilizing a Windows operating system. The hardware needed to host Windows was left with unutilized computing power. Many organizations, as a result, began taking advantage of that by putting machine control software into the terminal.

Today, however, significant computing potential is possible within embedded devices with a broad spectrum of affordable processor and memory technologies. This gives machinery manufacturers the potential to inexpensively push the control logic out of the terminal and back into the electronic control units, making the displays true thin clients and providing manufacturers much more display flexibility at a lower cost.

Here are 8 ways manufacturers can benefit from using smart devices in place of display terminals.

1. Leverage investments made by consumer electronics manufacturers
Industrial and off-highway vehicle manufacturers and their suppliers are simply not capable of matching pace with the investment and technical progression of the devices in the consumer electronic world. The level of investment and speed of technology deployed in consumer devices by companies like Apple and Samsung is simply not within the reach of industrial and off-highway equipment sectors.

Exacerbating this problem is the limited volumes in the off-highway and industrial spaces — they are only able to access these technologies after they become available in consumer devices, and we then still need to spend years achieving their introduction to a machine. This cycle leaves manufacturers lagging the curve of consumer display expectations by years while investing a lot of time and money into advanced display systems that feel substandard by the time they reach operators (when compared against the latest phone or tablet they carry).

One way of mitigating this problem is by pushing some display functions into mobile devices. Here, without any hardware development or integration investment, equipment manufacturers can leverage the hundreds of millions of R&D dollars put into consumer electronics, as well as the additional investments in the infrastructure that supports them. In this sense, by developing and deploying mobile applications that seamlessly connect with machinery, manufacturers get to leverage the latest in processing and display systems while minimizing investments.

2. Push display features into operator mobile devices
This requires some consideration for both security and safety strategies that vary from manufacturer to manufacturer. On one end of the spectrum, the mobile device can be used as a simple display. The device receives information from the machine over a wireless link. This information is then rendered into value-added real-time information for the operator to view on the phone or tablet display, including whatever visual or auditory alerts are needed by the operator.

On the other end of the spectrum, the mobile device is an interactive element of the machine control architecture. In this embodiment the operator can provide machine control inputs through the phone or tablet — whether that operator is within or outside of the machine’s cab.

And, of course, there are many hybrid models for the utilization of the mobile devices in interaction with off highway and industrial equipment where input capabilities through the mobile device are possible, but limited to a smaller set of functions.

3. Utilize app update infrastructure through Android, Apple, and other devices
Where delivery of a new embedded feature or capability might require a service bulletin, dealer notice, or integration with a new vehicle model year the deployment of complimentary mobile capabilities can be done in a matter of days and launched whenever may be convenient for a vehicle manufacturer.

When coupled with the ability to deliver ECU firmware through the mobile application interface, it becomes possible for vehicle manufacturers to perform significant update campaigns, verify which vehicles have been reached with those campaigns, and to do so without any telematic or dealer service expenses.

4. Break the dependence on vehicle model year release cycles
It has, traditionally, been very difficult to add value for customers of off-highway equipment out of cycle with a machine’s delivery. Should a competitor release a new feature in many circumstances we as an industry are relegated to waiting for the next machine cycle to deliver a competitive response. To the extent that there is mobile experience integrated with the usage of the machine, innovative features enabled through the mobile application can be deployed at any time giving manufacturers the potential to quickly deliver differentiable features out of sequence with machine model year cycles (and make those features available to both new and existing customers).

5. Leverage community to fuel development and growth
With a mobile application also comes the potential to leverage community to fuel development and growth. For example, if there is an industrial segment that is a relatively small consumer of machines but has a strong desire for a specific display, license can be extended by the equipment manufacturer to view and use the data output by the machine. In this manner, a supplier in a specific market segment can develop an application experience that is unique to that one market segment, providing a value added experience to operators in that segment without requiring any development investment, support, or maintenance from the vehicle manufacturer.

6. Rapidly deliver features / speeding to market
Embedded development can be comparatively time consuming and expensive when compared against mobile development. Embedded developers are generally more difficult to hire and train, the software more time consuming to develop and deploy, and the verification and validation activity associated therewith similarly nontrivial. In contrast, working against a defined embedded interface mobile software development is comparatively less expensive, developers more accessible, and software deployment more rapid.

7. Display cost reductions
To the extent that operators are bringing their own devices, and machine displays can become simpler and less expensive, this initiative offers the potential for cost reduction of the machine electrics while delivering more features to its operators.

8. Capture user and machine data
Utilization of a mobile application provides a broad spectrum of possibilities for the capture of both machine and operator data. For machines where telematic connectivity may not be possible, utilization of an application may provide the ability to cache and deliver valuable machine data to a manufacturer (in lieu of the cellular connectivity onboard the machine). The application can also acquire demographics about users, and information about how they navigate and use the application, that can provide user and usage statistics that can become a powerful force for informing future development activity that will help optimize equipment and interfaces for operators.

David Batcheller – President & CBO

Easy, Convenient Flight Logging with Garmin Products and

Flight logging hasn’t really changed over the years. The manual tradition of putting pen to paper, adding flight details, noting endorsements and maintaining flight times as best as possible in a logbook is as relevant today as it’s ever been. And while this customary process is still widely employed, it can sometimes feel antiquated, time-consuming and cumbersome. Now, with select Garmin avionics, the Garmin Pilot™ app and D2™ series aviation watches, we’ve modernized this process by adding automation and digitalization. With these tools, pilots and aircraft owners can simplify the age-old flight logging process while gaining powerful insights on every flight.

Logging flights with Garmin aviation smartwatches

Our latest D2 series aviation watches – the D2™ Air and D2™ Delta series – can automatically detect the change in altitude during takeoff, initiating a flight recording logbook function. Once activated, it records the date, duration, total flight time and route. Upon landing, the information is automatically synced to a digital logbook on Garmin Pilot and – our safe and secure web-based cloud service – via a compatible smartphone.

The Garmin D2™ Air featuring flight logging capabilities.

Log flights, endorsements, track currency and more with Garmin Pilot

Our Garmin Pilot app can take flight logging a step further. In addition to automatically logging flights from takeoff to landing like the D2 Air and D2 Delta series, Garmin Pilot can record remarks, endorsements and help keep track of currency based on the number of takeoffs and landings in either day or night conditions.

Additionally, when operating Garmin Pilot from a GPS-equipped mobile device, or when it’s connected to a compatible external GPS device, it can automatically record flight track data during flights. With this feature enabled, flight data is recorded in-flight, then attached to the logbook entry upon landing. Recorded flight tracks can then be reviewed on the Garmin Pilot map page or

iPad displaying Garmin Pilot logbook feature
Garmin Pilot Logbook feature available on Apple devices.

Wirelessly transfer engine performance data with Garmin avionics

Our flight logging feature set doesn’t just apply to the pilot’s flight time – we’ve created tools to help aircraft owners and operators gain valuable insights into their aircraft too. For aircraft equipped with a Garmin GI 275 EIS, an EIS-capable TXi flight display, G1000® NXi, G3000®1 or G5000®1 integrated flight deck, engine data can be wirelessly transmitted to Garmin Pilot on Apple® devices via our Flight Stream 510 wireless gateway2. For example, during a flight, crewmembers can transmit engine data to Garmin Pilot for real-time performance review. Upon landing, aircraft service technicians can review the flight data to help identify performance issues or maintenance needs. Saved performance data is automatically uploaded to and viewable on the logbook page.

Review engine performance in-flight with select Garmin avionics and Garmin Pilot.

Review flight and engine data online at

Once flights are logged on select Garmin avionics3, D2 Air, D2 Delta series watches and Garmin Pilot, they are safely and securely stored on From a desktop computer, tablet or mobile device, aircraft operators can review flight entries, flight tracks, engine performance data, currency reports and more. When it’s time to report hours and endorsements to employers or insurance, daily, monthly or yearly lookback reports can be generated on

Exceedance alerts can be also be created on This customizable tool can help operators monitor the health of their airframe and engine. A user-configured system limit is set at, then an email notification is sent to the operator upon landing if a limit was exceeded. Exceedance alerts can be generated for cylinder head temperature, oil temperature, aircraft pitch and more.

Flight information and engine data can be reviewed on

For more information about our flight logging solutions, engine information systems and avionics, visit

1Compatibility varies by aircraft and system software level; see aircraft manufacturer for details

2Not required for GI 275 EIS

3Select Garmin avionics require a Flight Stream 510 (sold separately) and Garmin Pilot to do the automated transfer to — this transfer can also be done manually with SD card uploads

iPad, iPhone and Apple are trademarks of Apple Inc., registered in the U.S. and other countries.

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New G1000 NXi and G1000H NXi eLearning Courses Available

Pilots who fly behind our G1000® NXi and G1000H NXi for helicopters now have additional opportunities to refine their avionics skills. Our aviation training team introduced two new eLearning training courses for the G1000 NXi, as well as two separate eLearning courses for the G1000H NXi for helicopters. These courses are available in a virtual format allowing pilots to learn at their own pace. The G1000 NXi Fundamentals eLearning Course provides a foundational understanding of the system, while the G1000 NXi Essentials eLearning Course is focused on systems installed in high-performance piston and turbine engine aircraft. The two comprehensive eLearning courses for the G1000H NXi integrated flight deck titled G1000H NXi Fundamentals, and G1000H NXi Advanced-IFR, use scenario-based training to highlight helicopter-specific operations and are tailored for pilots new to the G1000H NXi system, in addition to those with experience wanting a deeper understanding of the system.

Core training topics

All four training courses build on a common core of training topics. These topics are common to all G1000 NXi and G1000H NXi systems but are tailored to the audience for each course. The topics include:

  • Primary Flight Display (PFD) and Multifunction Display (MFD) function
  • Audio Panel Features
  • Automatic Flight Control System
  • Hazard Avoidance Features
  • Safety Features
  • Abnormal Operations
  • Managing Databases
  • Operational Flight Scenario

Learn best-practices for G1000 NXi operational use

For those that are new to Garmin avionics, transitioning to advanced avionics, or perhaps want to refresh their understanding of the system, the G1000 NXi Fundamentals eLearning Course provides comprehensive training on the system designed for piston engine equipped aircraft. This course describes features of the system in detail and use a scenario to demonstrate how particular features function in different phases of flight in order to see this advanced system in action. In order to practice what you learned during this course, the Garmin G1000 NXi PC Trainer software is available for purchase online.

King Air flight deck featuring G1000 NXi, pilot holding iPad
G1000 NXi for King Air aircraft.

G1000 NXi for high-performance piston and turbine aircraft

For those operating high-performance piston or turbine-engine equipped aircraft, the G1000 NXi Essentials course presents best-practices for the G1000 NXi integrated flight deck by providing detailed training for pilots wanting to get the most out of the system. In addition to describing features in detail and showing how they can be used effectively in flight, scenario-based training demonstrates typical high-performance piston and turbine-engine aircraft operations, providing an opportunity to see the G1000 NXi system in full effect. For your specific or similar aircraft, the Garmin G1000 NXi PC Trainer software is available for purchase online, and provides the opportunity to take what you learned throughout the course and apply it. In addition to the core training topics, the G1000 NXi Essentials eLearning Course includes additional instruction on:

  • Vertical Navigation
  • Automatic Flight Control System
  • Advanced Features
  • User Waypoints
  • Managing Databases
  • Multiple Operational Flight Scenarios with different performance profiles

Build helicopter-specific system knowledge

The G1000H NXi Fundamentals course is designed for VFR helicopter pilots who are new to Garmin avionics, transitioning to advanced avionics, or perhaps want a refresher on the G1000H NXi. This allows the pilot to be comfortable with the avionics and maximize learning during valuable flight time. Learn how to take full advantage of the capabilities of the G1000H NXi system while gaining experience with operational use best practices. This virtual course allows pilots to learn at their own pace, details system features and provides a VFR flight scenario to show how these features are used in various phases of flight. Those that sign up for this course receive an additional scripted scenario for more practice through the Bell 407GXi G1000H NXi PC Trainer software, available for purchase online. The core training topics in the G1000H NXi Fundamentals eLearning Course have been tailored to helicopter-specific features and functionality, including differences for:

  • PFD and MFD function
  • Audio Panel Features
  • Hazard Avoidance Features
  • Operational Flight Scenario
  • Scenario-Based Exercise

Enhance IFR helicopter skills with G1000H NXi

The G1000H Advanced-IFR course provides a detailed look at the G1000H NXi system and illustrates best practices for operational use of the flight deck, with a focus on Instrument Flight Rules (IFR). The course uses phase of flight scenarios to demonstrate typical IFR helicopter operation, and depicts common practices to maximize the benefits of system features and capabilities. For helicopter pilots who fly search-and-rescue missions, emphasis on user waypoints are included in the course scenarios. Pilots can further practice what they learned throughout the course with one of the additional scripted scenarios provided for use with the purchase of the Bell 407GXi G1000H NXi PC Trainer software. Some helicopter-tailored training topics covered in the Advanced IFR eLearning Course include:

  • PFD and MFD function
  • Automatic Flight Control System
  • Hazard Avoidance Features
  • Advanced Features
  • User waypoints
  • Operational Flight Scenarios
Bell 407 GXi helicopter cockpit featuring Garmin G1000H NXi.
Bell 407 GXi featuring Garmin G1000H NXi

Proceed through the course at a pace that works best

Available immediately after purchase using a computer or tablet device with internet access, pilots can navigate through the virtual course at their own pace. Assessments throughout the course validate knowledge obtained of critical items while documenting the learning process. With the ability to pause lessons as needed to return to the lesson later, this is a convenient option for any pilot. Also, pilots can retake specific lessons or even the entire course during the subscription period.

The G1000 NXi Fundamentals eLearning course is available now for $94.95 USD, and the G1000 NXi Essentials eLearning Course is now available for $145.95 USD. Also available is the G1000H NXi Fundamentals eLearning Course for $74.95 USD, as well as the G1000H NXi Advanced IFR eLearning Course is available for $94.95 USD. For aviation training needs, including purchasing one of these eLearning courses, please visit

For additional information, please contact

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Garmin Pilot Adds Graphical Airspace and Obstacle NOTAMs, Updated Flight Profile View

Our Garmin Pilot app for Apple mobile devices now offers pilots the ability to reference graphical airspace and obstacle NOTAMs during pre-flight planning, and inflight for increased situational awareness. An enhanced user interface for Profile View also provides pilots the ability to access important information such as weather, PIREPs, and more, faster than ever before.

Graphical Airspace NOTAMS

Airspace NOTAMS are now available as a graphical overlay on the map. They can be depicted as a circle or other shape with the type and associated altitude of the NOTAM labeled for even more clarity depending on the selected zoom level. NOTAMs that are scheduled to become active in the next 24 hours are displayed in yellow to help alert pilots in advance and aid with flight planning, with a brighter contrast for areas showing upcoming restricted airspace. Active airspace NOTAMs are color-coded depending on the following classifications:

  • Red: Restricted and Danger NOTAMs, such as Prohibited Areas
  • Orange: Alert and Warning NOTAMs, including Military Operation Areas (MOA)
  • Gray: Flight Data Center (FDC) NOTAMS such as Instrument Approach Procedure changes
  • Purple: Other NOTAMs such as Parachute Jumping areas
Garmin Pilot on iPad showing map view with Graphical NOTAM feature.
Graphical Airspace NOTAM feature within Garmin Pilot for Apple mobile devices

For convenience, airspace NOTAMs can be viewed from either the map or flight plan page by selecting the NOTAMs layer from the map overlays menu. Pilots can view NOTAMs in both decoded and raw text by selecting the NOTAM segment in the radial menu. Further, NOTAMs may also be viewed by selecting the NOTAMs widget in spilt-screen mode.

Graphical Obstacle NOTAMs

Obstacle NOTAMs use pink obstacle figures on the map in order to differentiate obstacle NOTAMs from permanent obstacles and are displayed anytime the NOTAM or obstacle layer is enabled. Those obstacles that have since been removed are displayed for reference as a pink “X.” Obstacle NOTAMs are available from the map or flight plan page by selecting overlays from the map layer icon with the ability to be viewed in both decoded and raw text by selecting the obstacle segment in the radial menu. Also, for convenience pilots have the ability to view an Obstacle NOTAM list from the airport page and by tapping the map icon for a selected NOTAM, jump to that NOTAM right on the map.

Garmin Pilot on iPad displaying Graphical Obstacle NOTAM.
Graphical Obstacle NOTAM feature within Garmin Pilot for Apple mobile devices

Enhancements to the Flight Profile View

The new quick access bar in the Flight Profile View allows pilots to display critical flight information such as weather, PIREPs, and traffic from compatible Garmin ADS-B traffic sources with just a single touch. Using the new and simple Pinch-to-Zoom capability, pilots now have the ability to more seamlessly review parts of the flight by focusing on a particular segment in the Profile View while still being able to reference the basic flight profile above.

Garmin Pilot on iPad showing new Flight Profile View
Enhanced Flight Profile View within Garmin Pilot v10.3 for Apple mobile devices

The newest release of Garmin Pilot, version 10.3 for Apple mobile devices is available immediately. For new customers, Garmin Pilot is available in the Apple App Store as a free download for the first 30 days. After the 30-day trial period, customers may purchase an annual subscription of Garmin Pilot starting at $79.99. Garmin Pilot is supported by our award-winning aviation support team, which provides 24/7 worldwide technical and warranty support. Please visit for additional information.

Garmin Pilot v10.3

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Mythbusting – Safety Management Systems Help Even the Safest Operators

MYTH: If you have a solid safety management system, you don’t need to monitor flight data.

FACT: Even the best operators can benefit from a flight data monitoring program.

There is a common misconception that safety management systems and tools like flight data monitoring are there to help the operators with the poorest track records to improve. While these tools can be a tremendous help to such operators, introduction of flight data monitoring systems to operators with great safety records can still make a lasting impact.

For one example, look no further than the Bristow Group’s performance from 2007 to 2015.

By any measure, compared against the industry and peers, the Bristow Group had a fantastic safety track record. But even though Bristow was starting from a position where their accident rate was half of their industry, through safety management systems and flight data monitoring Bristow was able to cut their average accident rate by a factor of 10 over a six-year period.

No matter how consistently safe, or how much an operation has been struggling, flight data monitoring can be an incredible tool for driving lasting gains in safety and operational efficiency.

Contact us today for a conversation about how flight data monitoring tools can bring value to your operations.

Kris Garberg – President, Appareo Aviation

Understanding 4G LTE Categories

LTE consists of a range of different categories of modem, which can be integrated into telematic devices. These different categories include:

    • CAT NB1 (also referred to as NB-IoT)
    • CAT M1 (also referred to as CAT M)
    • CAT 1
    • CAT 4

In general, as you progress down the list above, the power consumption, throughput, and price of the devices increases (all considerably). When comparing specifications and capabilities of different telematic devices, it can be difficult to know what is the right level of capability for your cellular data transfer needs. This post will provide a brief summary and application-level insight to this area of potential confusion when specifying or purchasing telematic products.

NB-IoT and M1

Although these newer, low-energy cellular technologies are grouped together, they are not exactly the same thing. Most hardware that supports one also supports the other, so you can prototypically get both capabilities in a single package. This is new and cool, and will continue to grow in things it can accomplish within the geographies where it can be deployed.

Although you’ll hear NB-IoT and M1 discussed in the context of vending machines, pollution monitors, electric meters, and wearables, these technologies absolutely have a role to play in mobile vehicles and equipment. Here is what’s great about both NB-IoT and M1:

  • Very low power
  • Provide superior range over CAT 1 and CAT 4 modems (our testing has shown that NB-IoT and M1 devices frequently have cellular connectivity in areas where cell phones do not)
  • Lowest cost of any cellular components or data plans
  • Deploys using existing cellular infrastructure, so lots of new support is expected to come online
  • Secure

As my mother always told me growing up, nothing is free. There’s a trade-off for the lower power consumption, lower price, and improved range of the NB-IoT and M1 technologies. Here’s what you spend to get that goodness:

  • Lower data rate (~375 kbs)
  • Higher latency for wake-up applications

If you have a few sensor parameters, or a couple of buses of CAN data, to send on M1 is a great technology for mobile applications.


This is the bread and butter of telematic connectivity technologies. LTE CAT 1 is capable of supporting feature-rich telematic products with enough throughput to support streaming meaningful amounts of data while vehicles are on the go. The maturity of the technology makes it broadly available in a large number of geographies, with mature modem hardware and firmware support and a full-featured build-out of carrier capabilities. This technology is a little more expensive than NB-IoT and M1, but has the following advantages over those technologies:

  • Higher data streaming throughput (up to 10 Mbs)
  • Lower latency for wake-up applications
  • Broader global coverage

If you need to deploy a solution broadly for mobile equipment (touching dozens of countries), need to offload a fairly large amount of machine data in a hurry, or require support for streaming video or other data-intensive content, then CAT 1 is going to be the way to go for your application.


LTE CAT 4 modems can absolutely scream data. These modems can hit 150 Mbs, more than ten times the throughput of their CAT 1 counterparts. They are also complex, expensive, and power hungry. These modules are typically reserved for spaces like the handset market. Unless you need to aggregate a lot of data from a lot of machines, or provide streaming services to a large number of passengers onboard a vehicle, it is unlikely that the cost or complexity of this technology will be appropriate for your mobile application.

David Batcheller – President & CBO

Garmin Autoland Receives Aviation Week Network Grand Laureate Award

Garmin Autoland has earned another prestigious honor — Aviation Week Network’s 2020 Grand Laureate Award in the Business Aviation category. For 63 years, the Aviation Week Network has awarded the Grand Laureate for extraordinary aviation and aerospace achievements that embody the spirit of exploration, innovation and vision that inspire others to strive for progress, change and leadership.

“We are humbled and honored to be recognized by Aviation Week Network with this prestigious award in the Business Aviation category for the innovation of Autoland,” said Phil Straub, Garmin executive vice president and managing director, aviation. “The passion and commitment to safety through revolutionary developments like Autoland is shared by the entire Garmin team, who continuously drive our pioneering vision to develop advanced technologies that enhance aviation safety and potentially save lives.”

Passenger selecting Autoland button in Piper M600 SLS, Autoland activation screens displayed on G3000
Garmin Autoland available in 2020 Model Year Piper M600 SLS

The Grand Laureate Award adds to a growing list of accolades Garmin Autoland has earned to date. Earlier this year, Fast Company recognized Autoland as a finalist in its 2020 World Changing Ideas Awards category, ultimately taking home honorable mention in the all-encompassing Best World Changing Idea Award in North America. The Kansas City Tech Council awarded Garmin with its 2020 Outstanding Contribution to Tech Award for Autoland — an honor presented to organizations that developed, or partnered in developing, a product or service that significantly advances the tech industry in their respective field. Autoland also reached the finals in the Kansas Manufacturing Council’s Coolest Thing Made in Kansas competition.

Garmin Autoland is certified in three 2020 model year aircraft — Piper M600 SLS, Cirrus Vision Jet and Daher TBM 940. In an emergency where the pilot is unable to fly, Autoland can take complete control of the aircraft, autonomously navigate around hazardous terrain, obstacles and weather while communicating with air traffic control and passengers. The system automatically selects the best airport for landing, considering runway length, distance, fuel range and other factors, and autonomously flies the approach and landing to a full stop on the runway¹. For more information about Autoland or our suite of Autonomi autonomous safety-enhancing technologies, visit

¹See for Autoland system requirements and limitations

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Choosing the Bluetooth That’s Right For You

Since the introduction of Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) in Bluetooth 4.0, there are now four technologies used under Bluetooth 4.0 and later revisions. Although the history of naming these technologies has led to much confusion, the generally accepted names are Bluetooth Classic and Bluetooth Low Energy. Bluetooth Classic represents the BR, EDR, and HS (AMP) technologies, while Bluetooth LE represents the LE technology.

Bluetooth Classic devices are typically used in applications requiring streaming of data, such as audio. The physical layer and protocol of BR/EDR make socket-like streaming of data easy to accomplish. Rates of these data streams may be around 2-3 Mbps.Bluetooth Low Energy brings about some great features beyond low energy operation, such as one-to-many and many-to-many communications, as well as connectionless services. BLE is often used for data transmission, location services, and device network applications. These interactions operate much more like a shared database of characteristics through the use of a Generic Attribute Profile (GATT). Most mobile devices such as phones, tablets, and computers support both Bluetooth Classic and Low Energy; however, many devices use one or the other.

Due to the differences in the physical layer modulation and demodulation, BLE cannot talk with Bluetooth Classic and vice versa. Similarly a BLE device cannot use Bluetooth Classic network and transport protocols when talking to a dual mode Bluetooth device. This is critically important for machinery manufacturers because although Bluetooth devices can typically communicate over a local area network to tablets and phones reliably, if you are going to use Bluetooth to communicate between machines and attachments, or between machine ECUs, you’ll need to select a protocol for the network of devices you’re managing.

As you consider specifying Bluetooth, there are a few high-level things to consider:

  • BLE can manage the data rates necessary to transfer typica data loads from mobile equipment busses (e.g. CAN buses running J1939)
  • Bluetooth Classic can handle a lot more data
  • Bluetooth Classic supports mobile devices tethering to telematic gateways or control units onboard machines and letting one device use the other’s data plan
  • Bluetooth Classic is much more energy intensive than BLE, so if you have a battery-powered application BLE is the way to go

In summary, if you have a network demand for a fairly large amount of data, and you have access to vehicle power (or battery life management is not a concern), Bluetooth Classic is a good way to go. If you’re a battery-powered application or do not require transfer of significant volumes of data, BLE provides attractive networking flexibility, low power, and a low price.

Michael Hoffman – Sales Manager, Land Mobile

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