Thursday, February 1, 2007
Great Handheld Gadgets!
Glass-cockpit functionality in a carry-on package
|Most airplanes in the general aviation fleet were built more than 20 years ago and have old-fashioned “steam gauge” panels that induce glass-cockpit envy among pilots who get a peek at the latest flight decks from such companies as Avidyne, Chelton and Garmin. Fortunately, there’s an amazingly simple cure: A wide range of carry-on gadgets are available that provide glass-cockpit functions in a handheld package. In this issue, we briefly cover more than a dozen products that span the gamut, from simple digital E6B computers to full-function portable multi-function displays!|
AvMap GeoPilot PLUS
AvMap’s GeoPilot PLUS is a compact GPS navigator that can be used in the air and (with optional terrestrial maps) for turn-by-turn navigation on the ground. It offers a wealth of pilot-friendly features, including a bright 5.6-inch color display, oversized control buttons and a unique thumbstick cursor control. The customizable display allows a map view with or without data fields to be used alone or in combination with a simulated HSI/RMI presentation. The unit comes preloaded with a Jeppesen North America database, which includes low-altitude Victor airways, and a terrain database that enables full TAWS functionality for complete situational awareness. Other features include flight planning, flight computer functions and a built-in speaker. Suggested price is $999.
Contact: www.avmap.us, (800) 363-2627.
Vertex Standard VXA-710 Spirit Air Band Transceiver
More than the typical handheld backup for your voice radio, the Vertex VX-710 offers coverage of the entire VHF aircraft band including both NAV and COMM frequencies. It also receives FM broadcast band, U.S. broadband radio service (BRS)—with Continuous Tone-Coded Squelch System (CTCSS) and Digital-Coded Squelch (DCS) functionality—and NOAA weather radio transmissions. All this functionality comes in a rugged magnesium case designed to survive after 30 minutes submerged in three feet of water. Suggested price is $550, but you should shop around for a better deal.
Contact: www.vertexstandard.com, (714) 827-7600.
Stenbock & Everson ChartCase Pro
Pilots of older airplanes with “steam gauge” panels can carry-on a complete portable glass cockpit with ChartCase Pro software from Stenbock & Everson. When used with a GPS and WxWorx satellite weather receiver, the software turns a tablet PC into a class-1 electronic flight bag (EFB), including in-cockpit weather (both NEXRAD and satellite) and digital charting (all U.S. sectional, WAC, low/high en route charts, approach plates and taxi diagrams). All charts are geo-referenced and provide full moving-map functionality. Suggested price is $395 for software only, and $2,500 for the complete system bundled with a Samsung Q1 Tablet PC, Bluetooth/WAAS-enabled GPS, WxWorx Weather Receivers and power devices. A subscription is required for chart revisions.
Contact: www.flightprep.com, (503) 678-4360.
RMS Technology Flitesoft Express
Pilots who carry Pocket PC devices based on the Microsoft Windows Mobile operating system will find many uses for Flitesoft Express—software that offers flight planning, weather, weight and balance, moving map and even an emergency attitude indicator function based on GPS input. It’s compatible with saved routes and pilot files from Flitesoft’s desktop flight-planning product and can also present XM Satellite Weather data. The $149 price tag is for software, and is only available to existing Flitesoft customers.
Contact: www.rmstek.com, (800) 533-3211.
Mercury Computer Systems VistaNav 2.0
Mercury Computer Systems calls their VistaNav “the first portable MFD with 3-D synthetic vision.” Hosted on a Motion Computing tablet PC, VistaNav software generates a synthetic 3-D view of terrain, “providing a cockpit-like view regardless of external conditions,” in addition to a conventional moving-map display. The software also provides flight-planning features and can display weather data (including NEXRAD imagery) from a satellite radio receiver. Prices start at $4,299.
Contact: www.vistanav.com, (866) 627-1671.
Hilton Software LLC WingX 2.0
WingX 2.0 premier edition offers a range of features including weight and balance for hundreds of aircraft, NACO charts (including airport diagrams and approach procedures), route planning (including automatic optimization for best cruise altitude), weather (including NEXRAD radar and satellite imagery), access to airport/facility directory information and GPS-enabled E6B functionality. A SmartTaxi feature not only shows your location on an airport, but also indicates which runway you’re on and how much space is available ahead. Suggested price is $129.95.
Contact: www.hiltonsoftware.com, (866) 429-4649.