For 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.
The system’s backlit, high-resolution LED screens are certainly dazzling. And the FMS900w Flight Management System is certainly brainy—it can seamlessly calculate and fly a curved transition with wind-corrected roll commands from the en route phase to an ILS intercept, for example. What sets Entegra Release 9 apart, however, is the ease of operation. And then there’s the optional Flight Deck Controller (FDC) with a full QWERTY keyboard that makes data input even easier and gives the panel a big iron look…
The 10-inch screens and bezels are similar in appearance to the Entegra displays in current factory-equipped Cirrus and Piper aircraft and previous aftermarket and OEM installations. The familiar façade fronts a metal chassis with slots for plug-in blades that control the Entegra’s suite of functions. These line-replaceable units (LRUs) can quickly be pulled out and replaced for repairs or upgrades. The blades drive the Integrated Flight Displays (IFDs), as Avidyne calls the screens; any display on one screen can be called up on the other, erasing the distinction between the PFD and the MFD. Another major change: Previous Entegra iterations relied on Garmin’s GNS 430 GPS/NAV/COM to drive the system. Entegra Release 9 utilizes Avidyne’s own WAAS-capable GPS receiver and digital VHF COM/VLOC receiver, enhancing integration and freeing engineers to rethink the user interface (UI) as they developed the upgrade. Throughout the design process, Avidyne brought in pilots and observed their interactions with the work in progress, learning what pilots wanted to do at various phases of flight and how they instinctively expected a system to operate.
Entegra Release 9 has five primary function modes: Primary Flight Display (PFD), Flight Management System (FMS), Maps (MAP), Engine and Flight Systems (SYS) and Checklists (CHKL). Each mode is selected from a corresponding key from an array across the bottom of the bezel. The mode pages, in turn, have associated “tabs” on the bottom of the screen, each representing an alternate or split-screen view of the mode. The mode-select keys also operate as left and right toggles to cycle through the tab views.
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