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

JP Instruments EDM-930
JPI’s latest EDM-930 digital engine monitor/display is like a personal flight engineer. The unit monitors and displays enough performance information to keep even the biggest numbers-geek happy. The bottom line is increased performance, fuel economy and engine life, which contributes to cheaper maintenance and more peace of mind about your engine. Useful features include LeanFind mode, which identifies the first cylinder to reach peak EGT; nine dedicated 12-segment bar graphs that display everything happening in your engine; an integrated Hobbs meter; and a history mode showing any extreme values from previous flights. A three-section display keeps it all straight. Price: $4,910. Contact:

Max Viz EVS-100 Enhanced Vision System
When the Klingon cloaking device made the sinister ship invisible to the crew of the Enterprise, the EVS-100 is what Captain Kirk should have had. In essence, the system enhances the pilot’s vision so that terrain, obstacles, runway environment and other important features become clear and visible during periods of poor or no visibility. The unit turns night into day. A special infrared detector picks up thermal radiation from the scene in front of the sensor (mounted on the aircraft and weighing less than two pounds) regardless of available light. Software converts that scene to video output, which the pilot views from the cockpit. Price: $15,000. Contact:

PS Engineering PMA8000BT
PS Engineering brings flexibility and functionality to audio selector panels. The company’s just-announced PMA8000BT adds Bluetooth capability to a list of features that covers every option a pilot could want in an intercom/audio panel. Pilot-configurable audio distribution allows a wide variety of listening options for crew and passengers. A front-panel jack lets you connect MP3 players, cell phones, recorders, cameras and other devices. The unit’s Monitor Mode allows automatic muting of the nonprimary radio, while a dedicated music volume control on the front panel allows different settings for audio and music. The new Bluetooth capability allows pilots with smartphones to connect to the audio panel and stream music or cellular calls, all without any clumsy wires. Anyone connected to the intercom can make cell calls through the unit, wirelessly. The unit has a very cool recorder feature to capture communications with ATC, includes a “karaoke” music mode, which we’d love to try, and is plug-and-play compatible with the Garmin GMA 340. Price: $2,095. Contact:

SolidFX FX8
SolidFX makes the only digital readers for Jeppesen terminal charts. The new FX8, coupled with SolidFX’s robust FXView software (included), is something of an aviation information manager. It functions as a chart reader, notepad (checklists, trip journals, navigation notes), document library and overall cockpit organizer. Most important, it renders paper obsolete. This baby allows the pilot to zoom, pan and annotate charts (with the included stylus), and write down ATIS, clearances, frequencies and other data—all while organizing everything in a virtual space. The eight-inch unit even allows wireless connection to electronic bookstores. Price: $1,195. Contact:

Tomorrow Today

Electronic circuit breakers are headed to your cockpit

Vertical Power VP-50
The next wave of technological innovation in aviation is likely to be electronic circuit breakers (ECBs). They’re a virtual replacement for the typical button-like breakers we’re all used to. The VP-50 from Vertical Power replaces switches, circuit breakers, indicators, voltage alarms, trim relays, shunts, voltage converters and a host of other products, and instead provides advanced electrical capabilities that make a pilot’s life easier. The VP-50 installs in your instrument panel and provides eight digital switches to control the avionics and other systems. It can be configured for each aircraft; Vertical Power makes several units for different aircraft sizes. For now, experimental and amateur-built LSA can use it, and Vertical Power is working on a product for LSA OEMs that’s expected to be available later this year. At less than $1,500, the VP-50 will revolutionize the way we handle electrical systems, the same way digital engine monitors and FADEC have changed how we handle performance. Price: $1,495. Contact:

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