Tuesday, February 24, 2009
Honeywell Bendix/King AV8OR
GPS and weather in your hands
By 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.
Once you get to know the AV8OR’s interface, it feels intuitive to use. Still, it’s worth taking the time to sit down and become familiar with it before zooming through complex airspace like that over the Los Angeles Basin. Included in the AV8OR’s package is a CD with a user’s manual detailing every operation.
The AV8OR is great in the air. The feature I like best, which differentiates it from other GPS units, is its virtual keyboard. You type in your selection instead of using a cursor to cycle through letters. Above the title bar, the SmartProfile display shows the vertical profile of the flight path along the route of flight. A cross section of the terrain for the flight is shown on the vertical profile, and a dashed line represents the altitude of the flight path. I fly across the Sierras and the Rockies on a regular basis, and this would be a great aid in managing these flights.
The moving map is easy to cycle through Topographical, No-Topographical and Relative Terrain views with a virtual button. The map’s data fields can be configured to suit your taste in information. Creating a set of stored routes and activating one of them is straightforward and, again, fast and convenient using the AV8OR’s virtual keyboard interface.
Nobody should have to fly around without access to weather information, and the AV8OR coupled with the XM WxWorx receiver provides everything you need. The large LCD screen gives a clear depiction of current weather, and the ability to pan the map display by touching and dragging across the screen is helpful.
Although the WxWorx receiver is large and requires DC power from the airplane, an optional Bluetooth interface to the AV8OR allows the box to be put out of the way. A mess of wires goes along with this system, but it provides you with essential weather information, including NEXRAD, Satellite Mosaic, graphical METARs/TAFs (and Canadian METARs/TAFs), severe Wx storm tracking, lightning, AIRMETs, SIGMETs and convective SIGMETs. Once the AV8OR is in weather mode, you tap the Choose Product virtual key and then select from the currently available data sets. I liked the graphical METAR map and appreciated the ability to double-tap the display and immediately access the detailed text.
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