Plane & Pilot
Tuesday, May 25, 2010

10 Top Products


The flying/buying season is in full swing: Hop on board!


The Americanization Of Alto
Start with two aviation veterans with extensive backgrounds in sport aircraft maintenance and marketing. Then fold in an established Czech manufacturer (Direct Fly) and update its popular Euro bird with American components as an S-LSA for the States: introducing the Corbi Air Alto 100.

Dan Coffey’s and Ron Corbi’s approach might be called “pre-emptive” maintenance—they hope to design out the things that tend to fail in LSA. “Our focus with the Alto is to enhance the ‘maintainability’ of the airplane,” says Coffey. “We’ve added things like American-made Matco wheels and brakes, bucked rivets to replace pop rivets in high-stress areas, Vertical Power’s electronic electrical system and the Approach Hub avionics wiring system for plug-and-play component upgrades.”

Another feature: Alto’s canopy slides forward for easy access to the back of the panel. Look for the Globe Swift–like Alto to be ASTM-approved and shipping by year’s end. And the $99,995 price tag includes a Dynon SkyView EFIS panel! Visit www.directfly.cz and www.corbiair.com.

Wired, Not Tired
Electrically wiring an airplane is a complex and challenging task that still uses 80-year-old technology. Why not bring wiring into the digital age? That was Marc Ausman’s question. His answer is the Vertical Power solid-state electrical system.

“Our models do all the switching and circuit protection for power distribution on an aircraft,” says Ausman, Vertical Power’s president. “Comparing our system with electrical wiring is like comparing EFIS to steam gauges. We do much more for the pilot, like run trim and flap systems, the starter system, wig-wag landing lights and avionics.”

The system replaces black boxes, backup busses, trim and flap motor modules and more. “All that stuff goes away. In its place is a solid-state control box and software. Software doesn’t weigh anything. It doesn’t add to system complexity. And we feel it’s a lot more reliable,” explains Ausman.

Already popular with homebuilders, look for Vertical Power to show up in many LSA in the months ahead, including the Corbi Air Alto. Visit www.verticalpower.com.

Touch-Screen Wonder
Another avionics gadget generating major buzz is the iFly 700 from Adventure Pilot. What would you pay for a seven-inch touch-screen-display GPS that overlays course lines, does flight planning and presents vital navigational info—all on top of an official full-color, high-resolution FAA sectional display?

What if it also came loaded with IFR low en route charts? And gave you constantly updated airspeed, track and altitude readouts? Imagine tapping airport icons to see course lines drawn to them, with pop-up menus to choose them as waypoints or destinations, or show you complete AFD airport info. Scroll through the sectional by dragging a fingertip on the display, tap to switch to another sectional and drag a route line to avoid a TFR—so intuitive, so easy in flight.

The software whizbrains behind this wonder have done complex programming for years for companies like Orbitz. The product will mature rapidly with updates and enhancements (rumor: WX coming), and user feedback is enthusiastically sought. Toss in a $69/year subscription for all updates. Now what’s that worth to you? $499? Deal! Visit www.ifly.adventurepilot.com.



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