Avionics News May 2012 - 30
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every airplane that moves down its Rochester, Wis., production line, said Jerry Mehlhaff, president. ACA builds every panel, from the Champ to the Super Decathlon, to the customer’s specification, so they range from steam gauge visual flight rules to instrument flight rules with Aspen or Garmin glass. AFS builds all the necessary harnesses using MilSpec Tefzel cables, so ACA basically bolts the specified box into the panel and connects it to the hub with the appropriate harness, according to Todd Metcalf, ACA’s only full-time tech. “It’s a real efficient way for shops like ours to interface everything,” he said. “Without the hub and harnesses, ACA would need another person strictly for interfacing. Another customer benefit is the ease with which owners can upgrade their avionics in the future.” During the past three or four years, building custom wiring harnesses for other shops has grown into a big part of AFS’s business, Hass said. Each harness is, essentially, a custom job because the lengths vary, especially in the experimental market, which can mount the hub anywhere it likes. Not every harness AFS builds connects to one of its hubs. If a shop calls and is installing “these three radios, we’ll engineer and build the harness” to the specified lengths. Scattered across the nation and around the globe, “there are a couple of dozen shops that use us regularly.” One of the more interesting jobs was the harness for a full Garmin stack in a Cessna Citation, according to Tim. Several techs picked it up and had an exhaustive Q&A before they flew back to Israel to start the installation. Brand Crossover Amateur-built experimental aircraft account for the other half of the Approach Fast Stack hubs sold, according to Hass, which has increased Park Rapids’ avionics sales. When homebuilders order their hub and harness, “we can provide the (new and used) radios because we are supporting” the installation. In addition to the usual cast of avionics original equipment manufacturers serving certificated airplanes, Park Rapids also represents the leading names in the experimental market, such as Advanced Flight Systems, Dynon Avionics and TruTrak Flight Systems. When Park Rapids Avionics extended its brand with AFS, one thing it did not expect was customers flying
At Approach Fast Stack, Karen Candelaria builds a harness with a watch-your-step reach.
to Minnesota from the four corners of North America so the shop could install the total system. But it happens regularly. “A guy from Phoenix dropped off his Cardinal on Saturday,” Hass said, adding that this pilot had put a Fast Stack in one of his homebuilts. He asked if the shop could upgrade the Cardinal with Aspen glass and a Garmin 650 on a tight deadline. He arrived the next day and took the aircraft home. AFS doesn’t have a dealer network; shops order hubs and harnesses as they need them. A customer in Nebraska was working with a company that had just purchased an older Cessna Citation. It needed work, and “they asked if we could do it, and sure enough, they showed up here,” Hass said. “That’s the kind of stuff we would
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