Pilot Journal
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.
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Tech GuideCO Guardian
This line of self-contained carbon monoxide detectors warns of dangerous levels of the deadly gas. Starting at $149, all models produce loud warnings when the cabin approaches unacceptable levels of the tasteless, odorless gas. Moving up the product line, CO Guardians add gas-level information for concentrations below the basic 50 ppm trigger point. Some also integrate with many popular MFDs, including the Garmin G1000, and can furnish OAT and cabin pressure. (Low cabin pressure can make you more susceptible to the effects of CO.) The most basic units fit in your car and charge in your cigarette lighter outlet. Learn more at www.coguardian.com.

Tech GuideForward.Vision EVS-100
Forward.Vision’s EVS-100 long-wave infrared (LWIR) system keeps evolving and improving to the point where, during a recent demo, praise for the “new screen” was deflected by the true explanation: “That’s the same screen; the improvement you see is all in the optics.” Still considered a “budget” system, it functions in darkness and haze, and even works as a daytime heat-source locator (traffic, anyone?), providing an extra “sense” for the pilot—a good thing when regular eyes can’t do the job. Maule Aircraft announced that the EVS-100 will be offered as an option across its line of airplanes, and the 1.2-pound system is retrofittable to just about any suitable aircraft. The EVS-100 is also being accommodated on many MFD platforms. Learn more at www.forward-vision.net.

Read about an Aviat Husky with EVS-100 technology in “Aviat Husky A-1C” (
Plane & Pilot July 2008), available on newsstands or at planeandpilotmag.com/aircraft.

Tech GuideInsight G3 Graphic Engine Monitor (GEM)
In addition to serving as a full-function, color graphic engine monitor, this high-tech instrument serves as a data logger that tracks not only your engine’s EGT, CHT, TIT and fuel flow, but also the aircraft’s complete flight history—time, temperatures, GPS data, vibration analysis, G-forces, even prop balance and phase. Hundreds of data hours are stored on a PC-compatible SD card to aid in analysis, diagnostics or development. The instrument mounts in a standard panel hole and looks unassuming, until you scroll through its many screens and appreciate its myriad functions, all displayed in bright colors on a brilliant LCD screen. The starting price is $3,200; upgrading from an older GEM runs $2,500. Learn more at www.insightavionics.com.

Tech GuideGarmin G1000 Synthetic Vision Technology (SVT)
Possibly the most heralded STC of Sun ’n Fun 2008 was Garmin’s Synthetic Vision Technology (SVT), ready to go on the Diamond DA40. Announcements from Cessna (Mustang, Caravan and piston singles) and others immediately followed. SVT presents a computer-generated GPS “perfect” image of what’s outside the aircraft, and Garmin’s system overlays that on the PFD. TAWS-B audio warnings come through enabled systems. Traffic, elevation-on-horizon data, mapped obstacles, a 3D moving map—all are displayed, allowing the pilot to fly the actual airplane on HITS, as though flying a high-tech video game. It’s a retrofit to MFD and PFD software, so expect to see a lot of installations as soon as the paperwork becomes available. Touted as a huge safety enhancer, the dual-screen Diamond DA40 option was announced at $9,995. Learn more at www.garmin.com.

For a complete review of this product, read “Tech Talk: Garmin SVT” (Plane & Pilot July 2008), available on newsstands or at planeandpilotmag.com/products/tech-talk.

Tech GuideJeppesen Mobile
This is an integrated suite of more than a dozen aviation applications for touch-screen or non-touch-screen smartphones running Windows Mobile. You can check weight and balance, view METARs, TAFs and TFRs, get DUATS WX briefings with animated WX graphics, airport directories, runway diagrams and Jeppesen’s FARs Explained series. You can even create and file your flight plan directly from your phone. If you still carry a PDA, it works on most of those as well. Pricing is $169 per year (renewals are $129). Jeppesen is offering a free demo download at www.jeppesen.com/mobile.

Tech GuideXerion Avionix AuRACLE CRM2120
Xerion’s CRM series of glass engine monitors for piston singles is now augmented by the new AuRACLE CRM2120 cockpit resource management system for twin-engine aircraft. Its human-factors design replaces virtually all standard engine instruments and allows a quicker, more-accurate scan, reducing pilot workload. The CRM2120 system is a fully redundant, full-time double system that has two safety failure modes: flip-flopping from one engine’s information to the other, and a “reversionary mode” that provides both engines’ information on a single screen, albeit in more compact form. It’s STC’d for popular piston singles; twins are coming on line this year, for around $13,000. Learn more at www.xerionavionix.com.

Tech GuideZaon PCAS XRX
Zaon Flight Systems offers a low-cost solution for collision avoidance in its portable PCAS XRX system, which warns you of traffic. The $1,795 XRX tells you from what direction the traffic is approaching, unique to this portable collision-alert system. The XRX helps focus the pilot; it uses logic to identify the three most important targets, confining its scan to a range of up to six miles and altitudes within 1,500 feet, while prioritizing threats based on the aircraft’s relative altitude and range. Using a built-in antenna array that gathers other aircrafts’ transponder signals, the “top-of-dashboard” units are immediately portable and removable. Learn more at www.zaon.aero.

For a complete review of this product, read “Tech Talk: Zaon PCAS XRX” (Plane & Pilot February 2008).


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