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Aviation Products

Get the scoop on the latest in aviation products and services. Read aviation product reviews on everything from handheld gadgets to the newest panel-based instruments.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

August 2008 Readback

readbackL-3 Avionics has received STC and TSO authorization from the FAA for its SmartDeck Integrated Flight Controls and Display System. The STC has been awarded for the Cirrus SR22-G2, and L-3 will offer the STC through authorized dealers for retrofit. The system’s menu structure is designed to support pilot functions in three clicks or less, making pertinent flight information more rapidly accessible. SmartDeck includes a display dedicated to flight-plan management and communication information in its standard configuration.
Thursday, June 19, 2008

Apex Edge Series KSN 770

Bendix/King strikes back with its Integrated Communication Navigation Display

tech talkFor many years, Bendix/King (a division of Honeywell) had a virtual lock on avionics in general aviation (GA). Get in a 20-year-old airplane with a panel that hasn’t been upgraded and you’ll probably find at least one Bendix/King NAV/COM, ADF, transponder or audio panel (on many airplanes, you’ll find a complete Bendix/King radio stack). Even today, many used airplane ads list “King panel” or “King radios” among their selling points.
Sunday, June 1, 2008

Heads Up On Headsets

New models & new technology, priced from $79 to $995

HeadsetsAviation headsets—now that’s a topic that’s close to my heart, or ears. My first “headset” was a Gosport tube in a military trainer, an all-rubber affair with a speaking tube connected to rubber ear pads via a long tube. Pity the poor student who tried to follow the grunts, snorts and expletives emanating from the rear cockpit. A few years later, after bouncing my head off the canopy of my SNJ Texan too many times, I took my Bell motorcycle helmet, hollowed out the padding and, using a discarded TV camera headset, inserted a set of Telex ear pads, bolted on the boom mic, then wired it to the navcom. Forty years later, it still works, more or less.
Sunday, June 1, 2008

Flying the G1000 IFR Like the Pros!

Advanced training for Garmin's glass panel

tech talkFlying the G1000 IFR Like the Pros! by J. Robert Moss, a Master CFI, offers a truly advanced course in IFR operations. Furthermore, many topics covered in this “ground school” apply regardless of the avionics installed in your airplane. It’s advertised as containing more than four hours of material, and if anything, that’s an underestimate. It took me about seven hours to get through both CDs, even t­­­­­hough I skipped over some parts!
Sunday, June 1, 2008

June 2008 Readback

readbackOn March 8, 2008, Cessna completed the first flight of its Model 162 SkyCatcher. The one-hour SkyCatcher flight departed from Cessna Aircraft Field Airport and consisted of flight maneuvers evaluating the controllability and stability of the aircraft. Test pilot Dale Bleakney, of Cessna Engineering, then proceeded to Mid-Continent Airport, where the SkyCatcher will continue development testing. “The first flight of the SkyCatcher is a significant step ahead toward our goal of bringing an affordable training aircraft to market,” said Cessna CEO Jack Pelton. The SkyCatcher is priced at $111,500 and is expected to reach cruise speeds of 118 knots with a maximum range of 470 nm. Visit www.cessna.com.
Thursday, May 29, 2008

High-Tech Buyer's Guide

Entering the glass-cockpit age has gotten more affordable

Tech GuideAn interesting trend has been emerging: Upgrades for existing aircraft are bringing older airplanes into the modern, electronic, glass-cockpit age. Glass upgrades or even whole retrofit panels can make you think you’re flying the newest aircraft in the sky.
Thursday, May 29, 2008

July-Aug 2008 On The Radar

On The RadarThe latest iteration of the turbine-single Pilatus, which received FAA and EASA certification in March 2008, has two big improvements that are split by the firewall. Up front, improvements in the 1,200 shp Pratt & Whitney PT6A-67P include the single-crystal blades and a new compressor design. Power upgrades make for faster climb and more stamina in fast-cruise power settings. Running off the back of the P&W powerplant are two monster 300-amp generators that ensure full electrical power and redundancy. These big dynamos are cooled and exhausted through special ductwork that ends in a tiny grill on the lower left side of the cowl, the only external clue that this is the newest PC-12.
Tuesday, May 20, 2008

July 2008 Readback

readbackCessna Aircraft Company will offer Garmin’s G1000 Synthetic Vision Technology (SVT) on all its G1000-equipped aircraft. The Citation Mustang will be the first bizjet to integrate Garmin’s SVT, and Cessna expects to offer SVT on the Caravan family and all Cessna single-engine piston aircraft in the future. In most cases, SVT will be available for retrofit in earlier-production, G1000-equipped Cessnas.
Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Tech Talk: Garmin’s Synthetic Vision Technology

It replicates what you see outside the cockpit on a clear day

tech talk­If there ever was a cross between a computer game and the real world, it was laid out on the panel before me. I was at the 2008 Sun ’n Fun Fly-In in Lakeland, Fla., flying what was, at the time, the world’s only general aviation synthetic vision system installed in an airplane. This one was part of a Garmin G1000 flat-panel display mounted in a Diamond DA40 Star. Garmin’s Synthetic Vision Technology (SVT) was recently granted an STC to integrate with the G1000’s PFD. Because Diamond was the launch customer on the initial G1000 avionics suite offering five years ago, it’s perhaps appropriate that the first unit was installed in a Diamond Star.
Thursday, May 1, 2008

Aspen Evolution EFD1000 Pilot/Pro PFD

Low-cost glass for steam-gauge panels

tech talkOwners and pilots of airplanes with traditional “steam-gauge” instrument panels will shortly be able to upgrade to a modern glass panel without the need for an expensive custom instrument panel. The Evolution EFD1000 primary flight display (PFD) from Aspen Avionics will be initially available in two versions. The EFD1000 Pilot, with a $5,995 MSRP, is aimed at VFR pilots. It functionally replaces the attitude indicator, airspeed indicator, altimeter, rate-of-climb indicator and directional gyro, but doesn’t provide autopilot support or interfaces for navigation instruments.
Thursday, May 1, 2008

May 2008 Readback

readbackThe General Aviation Manufacturers Association (GAMA) announced that the 2007 year-end shipment figures for the general aviation industry have led to another record high in industry billings. At the organization’s Annual Industry Review and Market Outlook Briefing, GAMA Chairman and Cirrus Design CEO Alan Klapmeier reported that a strong worldwide market, especially outside of North America, was a driving factor for general aviation in 2007.
Thursday, May 1, 2008

May/June 2008 On The Radar

on the radarIn early February 2008, Cessna finally admitted its big, big secret: The Model 850 will indeed go into production. Named “Columbus,” the largest-ever Citation was teased at NBAA in late 2006, refined for 2007 and slated for customer delivery in 2014.
Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Lightspeed Zulu

So comfortable and quiet, you’ll want to experience it beyond the airplane

tech-talkI first learned about the Lightspeed Zulu from a friend at the Reno Air Races last September. He was as pleased as he could be, enough so that he seemed like a walking advertisement for the product. I was a little skeptical about the durability of a Lightspeed headset in my aerobatic Edge 540, but he insisted it was truly great and described a change that had occurred within the company. Lightspeed has always focused on providing a good value headset with great comfort and outstanding customer service, but now they have such a high-quality piece of equipment that there’s little need to use their world-class service department. The active noise-reduction (ANR) headset includes features such as Bluetooth wireless capability, an audio-in jack for MP3 players and leather ear seals.
Tuesday, April 1, 2008

April 2008 Readback

readbackAviat Aircraft announced that the first Husky A-1C is on the flight line; it will be delivered to a buyer in Wichita, Kans. The new 200 hp model has strengthened main and tailwheel gear components and a total gross weight of 2,200 pounds. Other changes include a lowered angle of incidence for the horizontal stabilizer and a new tachometer.
Saturday, March 1, 2008

Home Sims Fly To New Levels

Take off from your den!

home simsThe world of flight simulation has changed quite a bit since Edwin Link invented the first flight simulator in 1931; today, realistic simulation is available in packages that range from software that can run on a desktop computer up to multimillion-dollar systems used to train airline and military pilots.
Saturday, March 1, 2008

Flight Guide Online

So much for so little

tech-talkFlight Guide Online, by Airguide Publications Inc., offers pilots a vast amount of information with their subscriptions. It’s also low in cost and physically small (it resides on your laptop, as if it were paper, but it’s not paper, it’s more convenient and has a lot more features).
Saturday, March 1, 2008

March 2008 Readback

readbackWith an auction bid of $26.4 million on November 28, 2007, Cessna Aircraft finalized its purchase of select assets of Columbia Aircraft Manufacturing Company, which had declared bankruptcy. The Bend, Ore., factory will now carry the Cessna name and the Columbia low-wing, high-performance, all-composite, single-engine aircraft will be branded as the Cessna 350 and the Cessna 400. Cessna Parts Distribution and the company’s network of authorized dealers and service centers have already begun plans to integrate sales and support of the new Cessna 350 and Cessna 400 aircraft.
Saturday, March 1, 2008

A-Star Delivers Ballots

General Aviation brings election results home faster!

ballotsWhen the voting polls closed last night in California, the Los Angeles Sheriff’s aero department was set into motion. We joined them in an AS350-B2 Astar flying the ballots in sealed, locked bags, from the ramp at Santa Monica Airport to the counting station at the office of the Registrar Recorder in Norwalk. These shuttle flights were part of a larger network encompassing six general aviation airports, all aimed at bringing in election results as soon as possible.
Saturday, March 1, 2008

Mar-Apr 2008 On The Radar

radarIn late November 2007, Cessna’s bid for Bend, Oregon–based Columbia Aircraft Manufacturing Company was accepted, bringing the speedy Columbia 350 and 400 under the Cessna banner. As with all current Cessna products, Cessna Parts Distribution and the Cessna network of authorized dealers and service centers will take care of sales and support of the rebadged Cessna 350 and Cessna 400 aircraft.
Friday, February 1, 2008


Portable collision avoidance with direction

zaonZaon’s PCAS (portable collision-avoidance system) XRX is “the first ever portable, passive, stand-alone collision-avoidance system for general aviation to offer direction from within the cockpit.” After flight-testing one at four busy airports one recent Sunday afternoon, I can confirm that it does exactly what Zaon claims.