Garmin G3X; Dynon SkyView; Vertex VXA-220
The economy hasn't dampened the resolve or enthusiasm of the avionics industry, which continues its feverish develop-ment of ever-more-spectacular instrumentation to help us fly with greater awareness, safety and simplicity.
The power and sophistication of glass panels for today's LSA and light experimental-built aircraft are nothing less than mind-blowing. Features such as synthetic vision, and 3D terrain painting and moving-map GPS—typical of FAA-certified systems costing many times more than the noncertified systems legal for LSA and homebuilts—have driven an explosive mini-movement that should only gain momentum.
Glass panels are so common now, you see steam gauges being used as backups or for low-budget instrumentation. Yet you can buy full-featured GPS navigation and engine-monitoring systems with traffic alert, two- and three-axis autopilot, XM Weather, touch-screen sectional moving maps, transponders, sophisticated NAV/COMs, in-flight music, even built-in video and photo cameras, for a few hundred to a few thousand dollars. Incredible!
LSA avionics powerhouse Dynon Avionics keeps enhancing its advanced glass-panel avionics platform with software upgrades. The SkyView Integrated Glass Panel System (7-inch and 10-inch screens) sports jazzy features like moving-map GPS, Highway-in-the-Sky and MFD...at a fraction of the cost typical of the dynamic LSA avionics industry.
Two recent developments: a flight-planning menu and the addition of Jeppesen NavData and obstacle services for SkyView. The flight planner enables multileg flight plans, on-screen waypoint entry and import of .GPX-file-format flight plans created at home. Jepp's software brings worldwide navigation data to LSA and experimental cockpits.
Other mainstays in the Dynon Avionics quiver include the widely adopted Dynon EFIS-D100, EMS-D120 and FlightDEK-D180 systems. Price: $4,835 (SkyView). Contact: www.dynonavionics.com.
Icom IC A24
Icom's IC-A24 and IC-A6 NAV/COM handhelds offer compact size, one-handed operation (helpful for bumpy flights) and 200 memory channels along with a large display with easy-to-read letters and numbers. The display screen and keypad are backlit and stay that way until you turn it off.
A flip-flop button on the front quickly recalls the last 10 channels used. The external DC jack accepts a wall charger, BC-110 or cigarette lighter cable. Optional battery packs available, too: alkaline, Ni-Cd and Li-Ion.
The IC-A210 panel mount has a big, bright, adjustable OLED display, great for day or night viewing. Channel selection (200 group memory, 10 regular memory—with assignable names) is easy. Built-in voice-activated intercom, GPS memory function, a NOAA weather channel and one-touch 121.5 MHz emergency access round out a rich feature list. Price: $599 (IC-A24); $499( IC-A6); $2,316 (IC-A210). Contact: www.icomamerica.com.
Trio Avionics Pro Pilot
The Pro Pilot is a two-axis autopilot system popular for its light weight and precise navigation and altitude control. Backlit buttons and either instrument or stack mount configurations are available. Along with vertical and horizontal control, climb/descent (with airspeed limiting) and altitude preselect, Trio's Automatic 180 Turn feature can be a lifesaver after accidental VFR-into-IMC conditions.
Trio's Gold Standard servos, just 26 ounces each, translate control inputs to flight surfaces but don't inflict drag on the control system when disengaged.
Other models include GX PRO (for full interfacing with Garmin's G3X EFIS system) and EZ Pilot. EZ Pilot is a budget offering with several advanced features, including Pilot Command steering, precise navigation and GPS flight-plan tracking, yet weighs under eight ounces. Price: $3,995 (instrument); $4,095 (stack); $1,120 (EZ Pilot). Contact: www.trioavionics.com.
AvMap EKP V
AVMAP EKP V
AvMap's latest EKP V GPS is fully portable but rich in features. The 7-inch display has a built-in battery yet is just 0.8-inch thick. Easy connectivity for autopilot, XM weather, TAWS, CAS is a breeze through USB and serial ports in AvMap's Docking Station, which turns it into a portable MFD (PMFD for you acronym lovers) for a full range of flight data. The u-blox 5 high-sensitivity GPS receiver with WAAS position accuracy is at the heart of the electronics.
A fully customizable-layout configuration displays maps, weather, vertical map profile, NAV data, HSI and EFIS. Profiles for different aircraft and even different hard-key configurations are possible.
A newly designed keyboard includes configurable key, progressive joystick and smart wheel selector. And a new graphic interface and full qwerty virtual keyboard simplify use. Price: $1,995. Contact: www.avmap.us.
Vertex Standard Handheld Radios
Vertex has a variety of compact handheld airband transceivers for aircraft and ground comm needs. Several units include these two popular models, both submersible (heads up, amphib pilots): VXA-220 Pro VI uses the International Band and receives the Navigation Band and all 10 NOAA weather broadcast frequencies. It also scans for nearby NOAA stations and has 8.33 kHz steps for the new narrow-band channel plan. Omni-Glow backlighting is easy on the eyes at night, too.
The VXA-300 PILOT III carries many of VXA-220's features and enables VOR and CDI navigation on the NAV band. It has 150 memory channels and 100 programmable channels with 8-character labels. Price: $189 (VXA-220); $220 (VXA-300). Contact: www.vertexstandard.com.
Adventure Pilot iFly700
Adventure Pilot iFly 700 GPS
This low-cost, revolutionary, 7-inch, color, touch-screen sectional moving-map-based GPS blew everybody away at Sun 'n Fun and Oshkosh last year with its robust feature set and ridiculously affordable price. The iFly 700 has since been a big hit with pilots and is finding its way as a standard installation or OEM option with LSA manufacturers.
The lightweight, external battery or cig-lighter-powered unit can be handheld, yoke-mounted or panel-installed. RAM mounts are popular too for customized placement.
Some highlights are: entire U.S. sectionals charts, IFR Low Enroute charts, approach plates, airport diagrams, touch-screen waypoint placement and quick-draw revision, annual data subscription starting at $69, easy online chart updates, highlighted TFRs and a lot more. I take mine with me in a J-3 Cub! Price: $549. Contact: ifly.adventurepilot.com.
Advanced Flight Systems AF-4500EE EFIS/EM
AFS offers several EFIS and EM glass panel systems. One model is the AF-4500EE EFIS + Engine Monitor, which sports a large (8.4-inch) backlit screen that displays AHRS and all engine data, a moving-map interface to most GPS receivers, optional XM Weather capability, an interface with Zaon XRS traffic detector and much more. AOA (angle-of-attack) monitoring is available as an option ($799).
All AFS models can be configured as EFIS, EMS or both and have full-featured voice alert systems, weight/balance calculation and maintenance log capability. Prices: $6,793 (AF-4500EE); $2,753 (AF-3400SP, 6.5-inch display). Contact: www.advanced-flight-systems.com.
Control Vision GPS
This trio of portable, affordable Anywhere Map GPS units have broad feature sets and plenty of accessories. The second-generation Quadra offers touch-screen navigation and landscape or portrait display on its 4.3-inch screen. Other features: street navigation for use when driving, Wi-Fi updating, Internet flight-plan filing, even web browsing! The Quadra Max offers sectional maps for $150 more. The SEPTA claims to be the brightest 7-inch screen out there. Its many competitive features include 180-meter terrain resolution, sectional charts, HSI, turn rate, airport directory, street nav, Wi-Fi and annual software updates for $195. The DeX (10.1-inch touch screen) goes head to head with the iPad to bring laptop functionality in a cockpit-friendly form factor. Windows 7 Pro drives it, a 64 GB solid-state drive (SSD) brings shock-resistant, super-fast response times, and of course, it's a full-feature GPS, with optional XM Weather, and runs Flash, Word, Excel and the galaxy of today's full software programs. Price: $495 (Quadra); $1,495 (SEPTA); $1,595 (DeX). Contact: www.anywheremap.com.
LSA and experimental pilots in particular will appreciate industry leader Garmin's highly configurable G3X system, which in a nutshell offers about everything light-sport and experimental pilots could want—navigation, situational awareness, engine instruments and integration—all in a class-of-the-glass panel array. G3X's "fully customizable glass cockpit suite" is built around the GDU 370 and 375 displays. Its integrated-flight-deck approach supports highly customizable one, two or three-screen (7-inch) PFD/MFD panels, and includes magnetometer, ADAHRS, robust engine monitoring and tons more. Situational awareness gets big play, too, with standard 3D SVX synthetic vision, and when coupled with a TruTrak GX Pilot autopilot, the G3X displays sophisticated flight control modes such as altitude preselect and capture, heading hold and, of course, GPS navigation. Seamless integration with Nav/Comm, XM Weather and audio components lets you do it all. Price: $11,249 without XM and $12,149 with XM. Contact: www.garmin.com.
Grand Rapids Technology EFIS
Two units for light-aircraft owners: the Horizon HX and Sport SX EFIS, offered in either 6.5-inch or 8.4-inch displays. Horizon has more standard features, but both come with PFD, moving map, graphical engine data, AHRS, XM Weather, traffic display, NAV/COM interfacing and more. There's even Highway-in-the-Sky (HITS) integrated nav/attitude display, multiple power units, USB software updating, even an AHRS-derived angle-of-attack indexer that doesn't require probes. Price: $8,350 (Horizon HX single display); $3,000 (Sport SX). Contact: www.grtavionics.com.
BendixKing AV8OR Horizon 3D
Touch screens and synthetic vision-capable GPS are all the rage these days for the superb situational awareness the features bring to the cockpit. Honeywell has two feature-jammed models: the AV8OR, a handheld, 4.3-inch MFD, and the AV8OR ACE. The AV8OR offers "true 3D" navigation, touch-screen moving map and map panning, Smart Airway flight planning, terrain awareness, XM Weather and Radio, GoDrive Street Map guidance, complete airport information, traffic avoidance and more. AV8OR ACE is a paperless, full EFB that packs airborne navigation, all FAA VFR and IFR charts, airport diagrams, graphical weight and balance, weather, traffic, automotive and even multimedia capabilities into one 7-inch touch-screen powerhouse. There's even front-facing video chat and video/still cameras! Prices: $599 (AV8OR); $1,999 (AV8OR ACE). Contact: www.bkav8or.com.
The EFIS & EMS INTEGRA TL-6624 multifunctional system monitors flight and engine with primary flight and engine instruments, HSI, 3D terrain mapping, headphone voice warnings and much more. All the primary flight instruments, such as ASI, VSI, altimeter, even angle-of-attack indicator are accessible. You get engine readouts for virtually every aviation engine made worldwide, including RPM, fuel-flow pressure, EGT, CHT, fuel level and more, in one easy-access package. The 7-inch display makes for enhanced readability over smaller screens, too. Price: $3,190. Contact: www2.tl-elektronic.com.
TruTrak Flight Systems
TruTrak, a leading provider of autopilots for many production S-LSA, also makes EFIS and EMS flight displays. Its EFIS GP panel mount has EFIS (and optional EMS) display for airspeed, altimeter, artificial horizon, VSI, gyro, heading and altitude bugs and more. Upgrades include one-axis or dual-axis autopilot and GPS Nav Mode and other features. Price: $2,200. Contact: www.trutrakap.com.
The Stratomaster Engima from MGL Avionics features a moving map, engine monitoring, checklists, a weight-and-balance calculator and much more.
The completely redesigned Enigma EFIS Mk II with integrated GPS is a highly configurable, low-cost package that does it all: EFIS/EMS/Navigation. A new, super-bright (1600+ nits), 5.7" display screen comes with super-wide viewing angles and enhanced contrast for better viewing on the brightest days—at the same power consumption as the previous model. Another plus is a broader ASI speed range: 24 to 510 knots. Beneath the hood, state-of-the-art multiprocessing brings top-notch features, like voice terrain warning, nine programmable screens, GPS moving map, engine monitoring, checklists, weight/balance calculator, autopilot capability and more. Price: $2,660, many options. Contact: www.mglavionics.com.
Zaon's PCAS XRX portable traffic avoidance data can link into GPS moving map and EFIS display systems.
Zaon PCAS XRX
This small, portable, stand-alone collision avoidance system sits on the glareshield and can also link into GPS moving map and EFIS systems and display traffic in TCAS-like symbology. Dynon's SkyView now integrates with the XRX to provide location, severity of threat, distance, vertical separation and heading of any aircraft with the traffic system's range.
For pilots on a budget, there's the MRX, not only the world's smallest collision-avoidance device, but also loaded with all the features of high-end systems. Portable, around half the size of similar devices, it still offers relative altitude of ±2500 feet to ±500 feet, with ascending/descending indicator, built-in altimeter for real-time accuracy, audio threat and advisory alerts, and more: a real bargain for traffic avoidance. Price: MRX $549; XRX $1,495. Contact: www.zaon.aero.com.
PS Engineering PM3000
Top-quality cockpit audio control is PS Engineering's prime directive. Its panel-mount PM3000 hi-fi stereo intercom has top-notch VOX, squelch controls, adjustable LED power and transmit intensity, single squelch control knob for simple and quiet operation, and separate pilot/copilot transmit capability. A pilot-isolate feature separates the pilot from others on board, and an optional digital recorder can provide up to one minute of storage for radio transmissions. Price: $493. Contact: www.ps-engineering.com.
The Austrian company's solid-state BXP6403-2 Mode-S Transponder is a compact, lightweight 160mm panel mount that features VFR/IFR operation up to 50,000 feet. Price: $2,850. Becker's AR 4201 VHF Transceiver is another LSA-sized instrument that mounts in a 21⁄4-inch hole and has 20-channel memory. Price: $1,750. Contact: www.becker-avionics.com.