Plane & Pilot
Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Aspen Avionics EFD1000 VFR PFD

Aspen launches IFR capability for VFR pilots

The VFR PFD is modular and slides into existing three-inch instrument holes in any instrument panel.
Though glass cockpit technology has brought the general aviation piloting experience closer to what's available on airliners, VFR pilots haven't been taking advantage of glass in huge numbers. IFR pilots were the first to reallyembrace glass technology, and anybody who has flown IFR using round "steam gauges" and then transitioned to something like a G1000 can precisely place the "aha!" moment when the advantages of a glass panel became more than obvious. However, VFR-only pilots have been slower to embrace glass cockpit technology for a variety of reasons. Aspen Avionics is changing that.

The company announced the industry's first-ever certified, VFR-only, glass panel primary flight display called the EFD1000 VFR PFD. John Uczekaj, President and CEO of Aspen, gave us a sneak peek into this ingenious retrofit PFD targeted at VFR pilots.

"Our business has a real culture of trying to build products that are affordable," said Uczekaj. "And we noticed that VFR pilots were not taking advantage of glass technology. So we put our engineers to work to determine what type of product—and at what price point—would attract VFR pilots to the advantages of glass." Uczekaj said that the driving force behind the decision to create a VFR product was safety and not market share. "We want to contribute to the safety of the VFR pilot by enticing them to take advantage of the benefits of glass technology."

Aspen has created an elegant, useful and very affordable solution here. The VFR PFD uses the same single-unit footprint as the popular Evolution 1000 Pilot. In fact, it's the same unit but has been software "limited" to VFR-only capabilities. It allows VFR pilots the convenient option of upgrading to a full-blown EFD1000 PRO (with full IFR capability) only if and when they expand into instrument flying. The upgrade to the IFR-capable PRO model is a simple task, requiring only a software update. Just that easily the VFR PFD becomes a fully capable IFR PFD.

Uczekaj tells us that VFR pilots frequently cite cost as the limiting factor for upgrading to glass. To answer that, Aspen created this unit so it's inexpensive (in the avionics world) and easy to install. Priced at $4,995, the VFR PFD opens up the glass world to VFR pilots in a realistic way. Like all of Aspen's Evolution flight displays, the VFR PFD is modular and slides into two existing three-inch instrument holes in any instrument panel. This retrofit technology delivers substantially lower installation costs than other glass solutions. For under $5,000, the VFR pilot gets all the advantages of glass with the capability to upgrade as their skills grow.


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