Wednesday, April 8, 2009
Avidyne’s new Entegra makes glass perfectly clear
|A flight down Florida’s east coast is replete with tropical playground panoramas, but the million-dollar view isn’t enough at the moment to pry my eyes from the dual IFDs (Integrated Flight Displays) of Avidyne’s new Entegra Release 9, installed in the company’s Cirrus SR22.|
“We spent a lot of time with pilots doing evaluations, and put them through different scenarios,” Ingram said as he introduced me to the new Entegra in a simulator on the ground. “We noticed where they fumbled, and what knobs they grabbed when they wanted to do certain things.”
As I was seeing on my flight with Keirnan, the overall result is an easy-to-learn, intuitive glass-panel system that anticipates what the pilot is going to do and significantly reduces IFR workload. Much of the credit goes to the FMS900w, the brains behind Release 9. The system is “context-sensitive”; it knows where you are, and nominates frequencies, waypoints and routes when flight planning or flying. Thus, often all that’s required to input data is a click to confirm a selection the Entegra has suggested.
The system has five primary function modes: Primary Flight Display (PFD), Flight Management System (FMS), Maps (MAP), Engine and Flight Systems (SYS) and Checklists (CHKL). Each mode is selected from a corresponding key on an array across the bottom of the bezel. The mode pages, in turn, have associated “tabs” on the bottom of the display, each representing an alternate or split-screen view of the mode. The same keys that select the modes also operate as left and right toggles to cycle through on-screen tabs. Tabs on the PFD page, for example, enable flight plan, maps or system information to be displayed on a split screen along with PFD information. Two dual-concentric push-button knobs (DCKs), located at the bottom corners of the bezel, can be used to input data or scroll down and select menu options.
Avidyne introduced the glass cockpit to GA in 2003 and has added new features and offered several new releases for its Entegra system since then, but Release 9, nearing FAA certification, represents a major advance.
We had created a flight plan from Melbourne International (KMLB) to Palm Beach International (KPBI). The system already knew where the flight was originating from, and as soon as I input “KP” on the keypad, the system suggested KPBI as the waypoint I had in mind, thanks to Release 9’s “GeoFill” function, which anticipates what you’re inputting based on proximity and direction of flight. As soon as I confirmed KPBI as the selection, GeoFill populated the flight plan with all the fixes in between and also suggested a waypoint for joining V3, the airway along Florida’s east coast, from our departure point. The FMS also displays the individual legs of the flight plan along with information for each, including course, distance, ETE and crossing altitudes where applicable.
The top half of the pilot’s IFD always displays the PFD view, showing power setting, airspeed, attitude, altitude and vertical speed. (The PFD presents a generic exterior view, but after initial certification, Avidyne plans to add both synthetic- and enhanced-vision display capability to this mode.) On the right screen we had MAP mode displayed, giving a full-screen view of the land below and the flight route we had in the FMS. A simple toggle click split the right screen so we could see the map and the flight plan legs side by side. (The active leg in the flight plan is always magenta, helping direct the eyes to the most important data.) The high-resolution, 1,024x768-pixel, backlit LED display is exceptionally crisp and vivid, even in bright Florida sunshine.
The IFD5000 display also has six line select keys (LSKs) on each side of the bezel that control fields or functions appearing on-screen beside the LSKs, depending on the page and tab being viewed. For example, LSKs are used to select radios, turn the weather overlay on or off, or arm an approach. Though individual LSKs are dormant in many mode views, whenever an LSK is active, it’s illuminated, making it easy to see what to pay attention to and what can be ignored.
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