Aircraft today are not what they were 30 years ago. This is even more true of avionics.
Such as noise-cancelling headsets and stereo entertainment systems that bring studio-quality music to pilots and passengers. The same technology also provides new features that offer significant enhancements to pilot safety and crew efficiency.
But there's a catch: Not every airplane is properly wired to exploit the new systems.
So, before we look at new features, let's consider the wiring.
We humorously had a customer that bought a used plane from Texas which had all the wires held together by bread ties!
Bread Ties! hahaha..
Our mechanics at Greenville Air got a real kick out of that.
According to the FAA, todays average GA airplane is more than 40 years old, and many of those airplanes were manufactured without an intercom system. Some were built without any electrical system at all. For those airplanes, it's necessary to add audio wiring. An inexpensive, time-tested solution is a portable intercom system.
Typically, that consists of a box that can be placed on the floor or secured in a convenient location with Velcro®. Power is provided either through a cigarette lighter adapter or batteries. Cables run from the intercom to the pilot's headset and microphone jacks, and jacks are provided for pilot and passenger headsets.
In the case of updated audio system in a 30 plus older aircraft is that installing that unit not only required removing the old avionics, but also installing audio cabling and headset jacks for all passengers.
That turned out to be a lot of work some of which I did myself under the supervision of a licensed aircraft and power plant mechanic. It's a job best done during annual inspection when the airplane will be grounded, anyway.
Even if your airplane is wired for an intercom, the wiring may need to be replaced. Old wiring deteriorates over time, and there's no value in installing a state-of-the-art stereo intercom with old monophonic wiring.
To have the best intercom / audio system for your plane get together with your mechanic and take a hard look at what audio wiring you have.
That will help you generate a realistic estimate of how long it will take and what it will cost to wire your airplane for state-of-the-art sound.
Did you know?
The most unusual avionics upgrade was used in the jungles of Ecuador, back in the 1950â€™s. A missionary pilot devised a scheme of towing a basket on a long rope behind a circling aircraft. With a long enough rope and a tight enough circle, he found that the basket moved to the center of the circle and hung stationary, below the level of the aircraft. He put a telephone handset in the basket, another in the aircraft, flew the circle and then gradually descended until the stationary basket touched the ground. Missionaries at remote jungle outposts were then able to talk to the pilot circling overhead. Not quite Sat phone, nor even a mobile, but a definite improvement on hand carried letters once every 6 months or so.