ADS-B receivers, once a poorly-understood technology, are now a must-have for many pilots, delivering in-flight weather, traffic and GPS position to popular navigation apps. We’ve seen them used as panel replacements in vintage taildraggers and also as everyday assistants for Gulfstream pilots. As the popularity of these devices has grown, so have the options. This week, one of the most popular brands announced an upgraded family of products with the introduction of the Stratus 1S and 2S.
The two new Stratus models are evolutions of the popular Stratus 2 receiver, developed by the team of Appareo (hardware), ForeFlight (software) and Sporty’s (sales and support). While they have the same core features and use the same basic case as the previous model, Stratus 1S and 2S offer improved performance in almost every way. Upgrades include better ADS-B reception, faster GPS lock-on, improved AHRS calibration and even better thermal protection with a sealed battery and a built-in fan. They also make use of the new USB Type C power connector, found on the new MacBooks from Apple, to offer a more rugged and low profile plug. Of note, it’s reversible, so it should be easier to plug in Stratus in the cockpit without looking directly at the port.
The new Stratus receivers also have an optional WiFi security setting, allowing pilots to hide the WiFi network name or add a password to it. This option, plus new software that automatically checks for potential hacking of Stratus, is particularly important for airline and corporate pilots, who are increasingly flying with iPads and ADS-B receivers. Now they can have a more secure connection.
Stratus 2S also adds a built-in pressure altitude sensor. This enables a real-time view of your airplane’s pressure altitude (at 29.92″ Hg) in ForeFlight, via a Maps page instrument. It also powers ForeFlight’s Cabin Altitude Advisor, which warns you when the cabin altitude exceeds 12,000 ft. or 25,000 ft. This is a helpful reminder to check your oxygen in a non-pressurized airplane, and even better in a pressurized airplane. If your cabin altitude is climbing above 12,000 ft., something is definitely wrong.
Stratus 1S is a great option for VFR pilots who don’t need the backup attitude indicator. At $549, it’s among the least expensive weather receivers you can buy, and includes some nice features typically found on higher end units. Among these are a built-in fan to keep it cool and Stratus Replay, which allows you to turn off the iPad screen to save battery life without missing any ADS-B weather information. When you turn the iPad back on, information is automatically sent over. It also includes single band traffic and a WAAS GPS.
Stratus 2S is the new flagship model, with basically every feature you can find on a portable ADS-B receiver: subscription-free weather, dual band ADS-B traffic, WAAS GPS and a built-in attitude heading reference system (AHRS) for backup attitude and synthetic vision. Stratus 2S also includes an automatic flight data recorder, which logs position, altitude, pitch, bank and the new pressure altitude data. This can be stored as a ForeFlight track log or replayed in Google Earth or CloudAhoy.
Both units are also designed to work with Appareo’s forthcoming Stratus ESG transponder, a fully compliant ADS-B Out solution that includes a WAAS GPS position source. This meets the FAA’s 2020 mandate, and makes the traffic picture in ForeFlight much better. Stratus ESG is scheduled to be certified in early 2016.
Stratus 1S and 2S begin shipping next week, and will be on display at EAA AirVenture Oshkosh from July 20-26. Both receivers will require ForeFlight version 7.2, due out in the next week or two. For more information, visit sportys.com/stratus.
You can watch a video demo below: