Plane & Pilot
Tuesday, February 23, 2010

SolidFX FX10

Portable aviation information manager

For years, U.S. instrument pilots have had a choice between charts from the FAA’s National Aeronautical Charting Office (NACO) and from Jeppesen, the overwhelming choice among commercial pilots. When it comes to electronic charts, though, NACO leads the competition: Its charts are available in electronic form and can be viewed on several third-party devices. Until recently, the only way to get electronic Jeppesen charts was with a Windows-based application called JeppView that runs on notebook and tablet PCs and EFBs. There was no option to get Jeppesen charts on other portable devices—until now.

SolidFX LLC has licensed Jeppesen’s charts for display on an e-book viewer. The resulting FX10 portable aviation information manager is the first e-book viewer to display Jeppesen’s charts. Because those charts are available for worldwide airports, it’s also the first e-book viewer usable on international flights.

The FX10’s 10.2-inch display is high contrast and nearly glare-free. It’s controlled using capacitive sensor buttons and an electronic stylus. SolidFX has configured its FXview software to be controlled with the stylus, so you only use a sensor to turn the unit on. The stylus is fine in smooth air, but can be problematic in turbulence.

FXview’s user interface is simple. All charts are associated with airports. If you know the ICAO identifier, pick the letters from a large on-screen keyboard. There’s also a search function that uses the airport name or city. Once an airport is selected, charts can be chosen from an on-screen menu. Selected charts from within each airport can be added to the virtual clipboard (similar to removing pages from your Airway Manual for a flight).

Area and en route charts aren’t provided on the FX10, though SolidFX told me it’s in discussion with Jeppesen about providing those charts electronically. For now, you’ll have to use paper, which is included in the Jeppesen subscription service for the FX10.

I tested the FX10 on a volunteer flight for Liga International from Modesto, Calif., to El Fuerte, Mexico. The airport-based charts on the FX10 had identical information to those on equivalent paper-based charts. The demo FX10 came preloaded with worldwide charts, but lacked the text that makes up the first half of typical Jeppesen binders, including chart legends, NOTAMs, etc. Subscribers are provided with this material in an electronic form.


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