Plane & Pilot
Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Top 12 Tech


With aviation and technology merged forever, we take a look at what’s coming to a cockpit near you


So much has changed in aviation in the last 15 years. Never mind the fact that LSA and the sport pilot category have instigated innovation rivaled only by the “golden age” of aviation in the ’40s. The last decade and a half have given general aviation pilots more technological advances than all the previous years combined. Want to follow a little magenta line on a bright, colorful display that will lead you to within 30 feet of any point on earth? You got it. Want to listen to your entire collection of 1,200 CDs in stereo, through headphones that block out virtually all unwanted noise? You bet. Need to fly around mountainous terrain on a pitch-black night? No sweat, just turn on the infrared display.

Technological advance has been the theme of the ’90s, the ’00s and now the ’10s. Of course, these leaps forward in aviation simply parallel what’s happening in all areas of our electronic world. Just when you thought you had your cell phone mastered, out came smartphones. As soon as you settled into your DVD collection, you got introduced to Blu-ray. It seems that progress comes faster and faster every year.

It’s no news that, today, general aviation is at a point where it has more capability than many airliners. “Situational awareness” almost is a given, since there are so many ways of maintaining it. Lack of that awareness isn’t a valid excuse any more. From nongyro attitude instruments to terrain-mapping displays and traffic alerts, pilots have to work hard to make the same situational mistakes that pilots made in the first eight decades of flight. So what’s next?

At P&P, we have our eye on some new goodies. Some of these are revolutionary, and some are innovative improvements on existing products. All of these top offerings merit a closer look. We’ve listed our selections in alphabetical order.

Anywhere Map Quadra
Anywhere Map’s new Quadra portable GPS has a bright 4.3-inch screen and touch interface. Quadra’s unique features put it squarely on the “cool” map. First, there’s integrated Wi-Fi capability that allows pilots to download aviation weather, file flight plans and get database updates. The Cones of Safety system draws circles on the display map, showing exactly what locations are within gliding range of your plane. Glide data is preconfigured and then calculated in real time based on existing conditions. Other goodies include an integrated airport directory with 100LL.com fuel prices, airport taxi diagrams and visual/audio reminders for performing various tasks (like switching fuel tanks). Quadra can do just about everything. Price: $595. Visit www.anywheremap.com.

Aspen Avionics EFD1000 Pilot PFD
In the past, if you had limited panel space and an older airplane, the glass-cockpit world was out of reach, both in terms of practicality and price. With Aspen’s introduction of the EFD1000, however, you can replace analog gauges with a compact, bright and reliable glass-cockpit display. The EFD1000 shows full-function GPS information above a compass rose display. The built-in air-data computer gives wind speed and direction, and constantly calculates true airspeed. The unit comes standard with a battery backup, altitude alerts, a slaved gyro (you’ll never have to set it again), a wind-corrected heading bug and an integrated ADAHRS. The EFD1000 slides into a single three-inch instrument hole, making installation simple and inexpensive. The modular platform allows expansion of capabilities and display area. Price: $5,995. Contact: www.aspenavionics.com.





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