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Aircraft Accessories

What are pilots saying about the latest aircraft accessories? Our flight accessory and electronics reviews shed light on some of the latest electronics for pilots.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Beyerdynamic HS 600 DANR Headset


Advanced noise reduction from Germany



Beyerdynamic HS 600 DANR HeadsetThere still are a few older pilots who fly without headsets—and most have hearing damage as a direct result.
Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Qref Books & Checklists


Quick reference for your GPS



Qref Books & ChecklistsFor most general aviation pilots today, a GPS is standard equipment, whether it’s in the panel, on a yoke mount or in a flight bag as a backup device.
Tuesday, July 7, 2009

VirtualHUD


Low-cost HUD–coming to a propeller near you



VirtualHUDWilliam Steele was working on developing a low-cost HUD (Heads Up Display) product when a eureka moment transpired
Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Avidyne Entegra Release 9 Integrated Flight Deck


The next-gen glass cockpit arrives



tech talkFor all their dazzling screen displays and computational wizardry, glass cockpits can be complex to learn and challenging to operate. Avidyne, which introduced the glass cockpit to general aviation in 2003, aims to change all that with its Entegra Release 9 Integrated Flight Deck, which is now nearing FAA certification.
Tuesday, April 7, 2009

The New Peltor 9500 Digital Headset


Peltor’s new headset aims for the cockpit



The New Peltor 9500 Digital HeadsetHeadsets are funny things. Even though there are scores of them on the market and their job is essentially the same, each headset has its own “personality” and unique feel. Among professional headsets, I’ve found that the “right” one is different for each individual wearer and is a matter of personal preference. It was with that fact in mind that I opened the package containing the brand-new Peltor ANR 9500 digital headset.
Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Honeywell Bendix/King AV8OR


GPS and weather in your hands



Honeywell Bendix/King AV8ORBy now, almost every pilot has had some experience with a portable GPS unit, and the AV8OR does everything that you’ve come to expect from these devices, and more. Bendix/King’s new MFD integrates GPS, navigation database, graphical terrain and XM weather into a single portable device. The affordable unit’s list price is $799, and the XM WxWorx weather receiver add-on is available for an additional $523 (though, through the end of 2009, the AV8OR includes a $200 rebate coupon for the receiver). The AV8OR has a beautiful, bright 4.3-inch diagonal display with 480x272-pixel resolution. The touch-screen interface is easy to use and provides excellent tap and double-tap access to information.
Tuesday, February 10, 2009

JH Audio Aerous VX-Series Headsets


In-the-ear sound for audiophile aviators



tech talkFor most pilots, aviation headsets are a necessary evil. They protect your hearing from long-term damage due to engine noise and make it easier to hear passengers, other pilots and ATC on the radio. But most do so by clamping down hard over your ears to block out sound; if worn for more than a few hours, they can give you a headache. I started with the generic passive headsets sold at my flight school, and when I started making long cross-country flights (up to 10 hours in a day), I upgraded to somewhat lighter and more comfortable automatic noise reduction (ANR) models. With those, the clamping pressure is less, the background noise is cut down, and it takes longer for me to get a headache—but I still get it.
Saturday, November 1, 2008

Tech Talk: Spot Satellite Personal Tracker


It could save your life



tech talkMy first exposure to the Spot Satellite Messenger came on a rainy March afternoon when air show pilot Gene Soucy arrived at the NAS Meridian Air Show in Meridian, Miss., where we were both performing. Gene got out of his Showcat biplane, shook my hand and said, “hello,” then pulled a little orange device out of his pocket and hit a button. He explained that he had just checked in with his coperformer, Theresa Stokes, by sending her a message that he had arrived safely. I asked the obvious question, and he said, “It’s a Spot, man, you need to get a Spot.”
Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Tech Talk: Garmin G600 Glass Panel


Retrofit glass for steam-gauge six-packs



tech talkJust a few years ago, state-of-the-art instrument panels for GA aircraft included a traditional “six-pack” of flight instruments connected to a panel-mounted moving-map GPS. Those panels look dated in comparison to modern glass panels, which replace all flight instruments with a single primary flight display (PFD), and provide moving-map and other functions on a companion multi-function display (MFD).
Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Control Vision Anywhere Map XP & ATC


Portable moving maps with weather



For years now, Control Vision has offered GPS moving-map software on portable devices based on assorted versions of Microsoft Windows. When I first looked at Anywhere Map, it ran on a Pocket PC and required cable connection to an external GPS; the result was a nice (but small) color moving-map display.
Monday, September 1, 2008

X-Plane 9.0 Flight Simulator


Better airplanes and scenery for your home computer



tech talkYou may view a home flight simulator as akin to a game. True, simulators can be fun to play with, but X-Plane is much more than a game. Twelve years ago, I bought X-Plane 1.0, the work of one pilot, aeronautical engineer and programmer, Austin Meyer.
Thursday, June 19, 2008

Apex Edge Series KSN 770


Bendix/King strikes back with its Integrated Communication Navigation Display



tech talkFor many years, Bendix/King (a division of Honeywell) had a virtual lock on avionics in general aviation (GA). Get in a 20-year-old airplane with a panel that hasn’t been upgraded and you’ll probably find at least one Bendix/King NAV/COM, ADF, transponder or audio panel (on many airplanes, you’ll find a complete Bendix/King radio stack). Even today, many used airplane ads list “King panel” or “King radios” among their selling points.
Sunday, June 1, 2008

Flying the G1000 IFR Like the Pros!


Advanced training for Garmin's glass panel



tech talkFlying the G1000 IFR Like the Pros! by J. Robert Moss, a Master CFI, offers a truly advanced course in IFR operations. Furthermore, many topics covered in this “ground school” apply regardless of the avionics installed in your airplane. It’s advertised as containing more than four hours of material, and if anything, that’s an underestimate. It took me about seven hours to get through both CDs, even t­­­­­hough I skipped over some parts!
Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Tech Talk: Garmin’s Synthetic Vision Technology


It replicates what you see outside the cockpit on a clear day



tech talk­If there ever was a cross between a computer game and the real world, it was laid out on the panel before me. I was at the 2008 Sun ’n Fun Fly-In in Lakeland, Fla., flying what was, at the time, the world’s only general aviation synthetic vision system installed in an airplane. This one was part of a Garmin G1000 flat-panel display mounted in a Diamond DA40 Star. Garmin’s Synthetic Vision Technology (SVT) was recently granted an STC to integrate with the G1000’s PFD. Because Diamond was the launch customer on the initial G1000 avionics suite offering five years ago, it’s perhaps appropriate that the first unit was installed in a Diamond Star.
Thursday, May 1, 2008

Aspen Evolution EFD1000 Pilot/Pro PFD


Low-cost glass for steam-gauge panels



tech talkOwners and pilots of airplanes with traditional “steam-gauge” instrument panels will shortly be able to upgrade to a modern glass panel without the need for an expensive custom instrument panel. The Evolution EFD1000 primary flight display (PFD) from Aspen Avionics will be initially available in two versions. The EFD1000 Pilot, with a $5,995 MSRP, is aimed at VFR pilots. It functionally replaces the attitude indicator, airspeed indicator, altimeter, rate-of-climb indicator and directional gyro, but doesn’t provide autopilot support or interfaces for navigation instruments.
Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Lightspeed Zulu


So comfortable and quiet, you’ll want to experience it beyond the airplane



tech-talkI first learned about the Lightspeed Zulu from a friend at the Reno Air Races last September. He was as pleased as he could be, enough so that he seemed like a walking advertisement for the product. I was a little skeptical about the durability of a Lightspeed headset in my aerobatic Edge 540, but he insisted it was truly great and described a change that had occurred within the company. Lightspeed has always focused on providing a good value headset with great comfort and outstanding customer service, but now they have such a high-quality piece of equipment that there’s little need to use their world-class service department. The active noise-reduction (ANR) headset includes features such as Bluetooth wireless capability, an audio-in jack for MP3 players and leather ear seals.
Saturday, March 1, 2008

Flight Guide Online


So much for so little



tech-talkFlight Guide Online, by Airguide Publications Inc., offers pilots a vast amount of information with their subscriptions. It’s also low in cost and physically small (it resides on your laptop, as if it were paper, but it’s not paper, it’s more convenient and has a lot more features).
Friday, February 1, 2008

Zaon PCAS XRX


Portable collision avoidance with direction



zaonZaon’s PCAS (portable collision-avoidance system) XRX is “the first ever portable, passive, stand-alone collision-avoidance system for general aviation to offer direction from within the cockpit.” After flight-testing one at four busy airports one recent Sunday afternoon, I can confirm that it does exactly what Zaon claims.
Friday, December 1, 2006

Mercury Computer Systems VistaNav


Glass-panel functionality comes in a portable package



If you’re like me—a pilot who mainly flies airplanes with “steam gauge” instruments that look increasingly out of date—you probably salivate over the glass flight decks that are common in new airplanes. Even the latest (smallest) singles from Cessna and Piper have them. And while it’s possible to retrofit similar hardware in older airplanes, for most of us, the cost (in the high tens of thousands of dollars) is prohibitive.

Monday, May 1, 2006

Jeppesen NavSuite


IFR flight planning, electronic charts and moving map all in one package



In the fall of 2004, I closed a review of Jeppesen’s JeppView/FliteDeck 3 with a complaint about the lack of serious flight-planning functions in Jeppesen’s flagship electronic charting products. A Jeppesen representative responded: “At some point, we hope to offer a single solution.” He must have been serious because that single solution now exists.