Businessman Stays Ahead of FAA Mandate to Maintain Private Travel Flexibility

Avionics financing Ronald A. Peterson is CEO and owner of Peterson Enterprises which is the majority stockholder of the St. Louis, Mo. based Vernon L. Goedecke Company, Inc., which provides distribution services for construction materials and supplies in the U.S. With a busy schedule and frequent business travel, it is easier to get where he needs to be in a private aircraft, and he personally enjoys flying.

“I have several offices mostly in the Midwest and various places that I go to on business trips, and it just gives me a lot of flexibility. I check the weather, file the flight plan, and blast out,” Peterson said. Well, he said, it may not be that simplistic, but system upgrades now available to pilots make flying easier and safer.

The FAA issued a mandate for aircraft owners to upgrade to ADS-B by Jan. 1, 2020, so when Peterson decided to upgrade his Avionics he decided he would get ahead of the ADS-B mandate and do both at the same time.  He was ready to act well before the deadline, even six years ahead of it. While he owns two corporate jets and a helicopter he decided to upgrade just one jet and the helicopter. Plans for the other business jet are not yet decided.

It was in 2014 when an avionics manufacturer introduced him to Madison Capital. At that time, Peterson said the country was still in its economic downturn, the value of airplanes had plummeted, and banks weren’t interested in financing them, much less interested in loans for upgrades.

In simplistic terms, the FAA’s ADS-B mandate requires new digital systems to replace old transponder technology to facilitate more real time situational awareness for airplanes and controllers.

Peterson said the new man/machine interface of upgrades Avionics is a great improvement.

“It sends a different signal from each airplane system enabling our systems to talk to each other,” he explained, noting it will also receive and transmit links regarding weather and be able to predict other points on their paths where there could be interference in their flight paths. The new ease of data entry into the new avionics is a system that keeps getting more complicated, he said was attractive.

“I can hit 2-3 buttons and have a full arrival or approach put into the flight plan in seconds …”

He was originally motivated to get ahead on the new federal requirements because a NextGen government program was announced to back avionics loans, and Madison Capital was part of that program. The offer looked good and he liked Madison’s responsiveness and ease of doing business with them.

“It was really easy to get the financing done; it literally took only a couple of days,” said Peterson, who obtained short-term loans from Madison for Garmin GPS technology upgrades on a Cessna Citation S550 multi-engine jet and a YSAS automated flight control system on 1997 McDonnell Douglas 600N helicopter.

Tom Myers, vice president of business development at Madison, says that while that NextGen program didn’t progress through Congress as expected, his equipment and transportation financing company continues to lead in this market because it is one of few serving it.

Aviation Week estimated the FAA mandate would affect the owners of approximately 150,000 general aviation aircraft and quoted FAA officuials stating several years ago that their deadline is firm. Both Myers and Peterson expect there are going to be many grounded airplanes as there is likely to be a bottleneck just ahead of the mandate’s deadline.