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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.

Monday, September 1, 2008

X-Plane 9.0 Flight Simulator


Better airplanes and scenery for your home computer



tech talkYou may view a home flight simulator as akin to a game. True, simulators can be fun to play with, but X-Plane is much more than a game. Twelve years ago, I bought X-Plane 1.0, the work of one pilot, aeronautical engineer and programmer, Austin Meyer.
Monday, September 1, 2008

September 2008 Readback




readbackWhen Vern Raburn talks, people listen. Recently, the visionary behind the Eclipse VLJ was talking about a new light-sport amphibian, the ICON A5. Raburn is an adviser for start-up ICON Aircraft, which aspires to create a sport aircraft that will “do for recreational flying what personal watercraft did for boating.”
Monday, September 1, 2008

Sept-Oct 2008 On The Radar




on the radar The most highly anticipated aircraft in Cirrus Design Corporation’s history, “the-jet,” made its inaugural flight on July 3. The 45-minute flight was conducted from the company’s headquarters at Duluth International Airport in Duluth, Minn. The aircraft performed flawlessly. Designed with the Cirrus signature full-airframe parachute system, the aircraft looked beautiful in its red and white paint (the model and mock-up have been displayed in gold and white), and its roof-mounted Williams FJ33-4A-19 put a 1,900-pound blast through the “V” of the distinctive tail.
Monday, September 1, 2008

Synthetic Vision


Flying by visual reference—regardless of the visibility



synthetic visionOver the past decade, new technology that promises to make instrument flying almost as easy as (and arguably even safer than) flying visually has been introduced into the general aviation (GA) fleet. Synthetic vision takes the idea of an artificial horizon and expands it to an artificial view of the outside world, allowing pilots to fly by visual reference even in the clouds.
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).