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Is there a really good avionics shop in Europe?

This would be for fairly major work like a sophisticated GPS, with autopilot / EHSI connections etc.

The requirements would be

  1. Good communications
  2. Good attitude (not arrogant)
  3. Very technically competent at the interconnection level (not just following wiring diagrams)
  4. Thoroughly understands avionics other than the latest (GTN) boxes
  5. Competent project management (job done on time)
  6. Workable transport to south east UK (airline option acceptable)
  7. Honest
  8. Capable of generating the right paperwork for an N-reg aircraft (AML STC job, probably but maybe DER+8110)

Based on my 11 years of aircraft ownership, I actually don’t know of any that meet all the above requirements.

Earlier this year I went to a “highly recommended” UK shop for an Avidyne TCAS installation and got this – a (finally) working installation but a right bodge job, and more importantly it was obvious the company (EASA145, FAR145, you name it) has no quality assurance whatsoever. I am now very pleased with the operation of the system but no way could I use such a company again because basically the only way to use them is to immediately afterwards fly (in CAVOK conditions) to a hangar in which the aircraft is opened up and carefully inspected for wiring and actual or potential interference with control linkages. To be fair, the company was recommended for avionics but I was definitely warned to not use them for regular maintenance.

A few companies I know fail on #7.

There is a well known company in Germany which probably meets #3 and #4 but gets mixed reviews from Germans I know personally, and in my experience fails totally miserably on #1 and especially #2.

Shoreham EGKA, United Kingdom

I see business opportunities for you in this area, Peter

But is there a market? Large enough to bring a steady flow of full-time work for at least two people?
Plus I think one must begin with a solid investment, both in (specialised) equipment, and, perhaps even worse, in the required qualifications and certifications.
Myself can’t help wondering whether such a shop could not be set up in a van or such utility vehicle, making the service ambulant. But ISTR all work under EASA must be carried out in an approved workshop…

EBZH Kiewit, Belgium

I am not interested in setting up a shop

There are mobile people doing avionics but under EASA they normally work by using the approval of the company where they work on the day. Or they work “off the books” which is quite popular in Europe for stuff like little things, and putting in GNS430 boxes, transponders, etc. However all the mobile people I know are in the “non advanced tech capability” category. Putting in a GNS430 and connecting up the antenna and a CDI, plus the supply via a circuit breaker, is about their technical limit.

The biggest problem by far is the usual one: you need a hangar to work in. That pretty well rules out most of the obvious options, for other than trivial stuff. Being N-reg helps but it doesn’t magically create a hangar in which this stuff can be done

Shoreham EGKA, United Kingdom

To be honest I think the US shops are better at this stuff because they see so much more volume in the advanced avionics. Somewhere like Nexair Avionics (who did my Mirage) or Vero Beach Avionics do hundreds of GTN installs for example.

EGTK Oxford

Hi Peter,
i think in the end Avionik Straubing is stil the best one. #1 and #2 depend on who you speak to. I agree that it’s not easy sometimes, but at least they are really experienced with a lot of stuff. PLus I can pick you up there and get you to Munich airport :-)

I am sure that a lot if what you are saying is true. The other side of the medal is that there are TERRIBLE avionics shops in the US too, whixh do stuff that would NEVER be signed off in Europe. In general I would say that there’s probably MANY better ones in the US, but the bad ones are much worse than what we have over here:-)

I have seen terrible work from the USA and I have seen terrible work done in Europe.

I think the USA has the advantage of much more choice of companies, and an effective active online pilot community (where good quality technical information is freely exchanged without bad behaviour) which makes due diligence much easier than here.

Here, if you ask around privately, you get 3 people saying they had great work done by Firm X and you get 3 people saying they had crap work done by the same firm. I can completely see how that happens. One man I know who used to work for one of UK’s biggest tells me how everybody would be sent to “panic stations” when the customer started making a lot of noise about his overdue job. What is less obvious is that 2 out of the first 3 are probably “non-technical pilots” who never learnt what half of the knobs on their G500 do and if the stuff doesn’t work they would never know it.

Shoreham EGKA, United Kingdom

I agree that there is plenty of bad stuff in the US. But the top guys are very good.

EGTK Oxford

Earlier this year I went to a “highly recommended” UK shop for an Avidyne TCAS installation and got this – a (finally) working installation but a right bodge job

I bought a used TAS 620 (yes, that with 24 nm range) from Avionik Straubing in 2010 for my T-Arrow IV. This plane was imported from Switzerland and my local maintenance shop DS Air Service Bremerhaven did the import work (registration and paper work). So I thought they could do the installation of the TAS 620 too. It took endless but the result was that I saw the targets on the wrong side. So when the targets where shown on left, they were on right and vice versa. They were not able to fix that. I then ordered the avionics shop in Damme to fix it but they had no success (but they were successfully creating a big invoice). At the end Avionik Straubing created new antenna cables, sent it to me and I installed it. Worked. It seems the problem was that they had used cheap antenna cables with too small diameter and incorrect length.

Concerning your question of recommendations. Avionik Straubing is the first choice. I have also good experience with Airplus at Friedrichshafen.

Last Edited by Muelli at 15 Nov 16:23
28 Posts
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