Plane & Pilot
Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Great New Products!

A selection of gadgets and gear from Aviation’s Spring Break 2011: Sun ’N Fun

The Right Touch
Garmin’s new GTN 650 and GTN 750 are aviation’s first certified touchscreen devices, but Garmin points out other innovative features, like larger screen area (allows viewing entire Garmin FliteCharts and ChartView pages), integrated audio/intercom, higher-resolution displays than earlier GNS 430W and 530W units, and a computer-like, intuitive desktop interface with big-button menus, audio/visual feedback, and animation to tell pilots which module responded to touch. Traditional button and knob entry is also enabled.

A key design feature: Pilots are seldom more than two finger taps from all primary pages and functions—no more head-in-cockpit deep-menu cycling on bumpy days. Graphical flight planning includes “rubber-band” dragging of course lines to new waypoints, Victor airways and jet routes overlaid on moving maps, and awesome IFR tracking capability. Check P&P’s website for our full video rundown. Contact:

Honda-Based LSA Engine
For aircraft owners seeking aftermarket, automobile-fuel power plants, Viking Aircraft Engines takes a Honda 1.5 liter engine block—same basic engine that the Fit car, marine outboard and Sports Car Club of America Formula F race cars use—and builds it up into the HF-110 as a power choice for Light Sport and other light plane kit builders. More than 50 Zenith models alone have Viking HF-110 engines installed. Sonex, RV-12, Searey, Just Highlander, Savannah, Jabiru, Storch and other builders also use the engine.

The HF-110 cranks out 110 hp at 5,800 rpm (prop rpm, through an integral, Viking-built geared prop-speed reduction unit, is 2,500 rpm). Interesting note: The engine can push out 117 hp at the 6,600 rpm redline for “extreme situations.”

TBO (Time Between Overhaul) is 2,000 hrs. Weight, size and performance are comparable to Rotax 912 and Jabiru 3300 engines. Price (considerably less) is another story. Contact:

AOA Is Where It’s At!
The Wright brothers, carrier jets and the Space Shuttle used it, so why not the rest of us? We’re talking angle-of-attack (AOA) indicators. AOA refers to the angle that the relative wind meets the airfoil. It’s a consistently accurate method of divining the critical near-stall condition because stall, as our instructors taught us, can occur at any flight speed. By measuring AOA, we’ll always know when we’re close to stall. We’ll also have more accurate best climb, glide and approach speed indications, too.

Alpha Systems gauges sense pressure changes at the wing, and give precise AOA readouts with digital and/or audible voice warnings of stall. Installation takes an A&P six to eight hours. In-flight calibration is needed since, although any fixed-wing aircraft always stalls at the same critical angle of attack (CAA), different wing designs stall at different angles.

The company makes several flavors of AOA devices. Sensor probes typically install in wing-inspection cover holes in undisturbed air. Contact:

Global Emergency Alert
Kannad Aviation has two compact units that will let anyone know exactly where you and/or your airplane are in an emergency. The Integra 406 GPS ELT is a small, lightweight reworking of the basic emergency locator transmitter with several attractive features. There’s GPS signal alert with .03 square-mile accuracy, 406 MHz internal antenna (no external needed) and portability for postcrash relocation.

Kannad’s XS-4 PLB takes personal-location beacon technology another step by providing search-and-rescue alerts through its subscription-free international satellite system. It broadcasts on two frequencies: the 121.5 “mayday” band and 406 MHz. The XS-4 has a pop-up antenna, fits in a shirt pocket, has a five-year battery, can operate for a minimum of 24 hours, and even has an SOS Morse Code LED flashlight. Both devices communicate with the Cospas-Sarsat global search-and-rescue system, which is operational 24/7 anywhere in the world. Contact:

Top Gun-Cool
RA Vision makes titanium-frame wraparound sunglasses that are so light, you hardly know they’re on, and so thin they won’t press a groove into your cranium when you’re wearing headsets. The flexible frame hugs your head, so well you can wear them under helmets, too. The triangle design of the temples adds strength, and each temple is cut from a single sheet of titanium: no welds to fail or screws to fall out.

Lenses are made of Trivex, a plastic similar in optical quality to glass, but lighter and more scratch resistant than polycarbonate, yet also impervious to UVA and UVB rays. They block out light from the side very well, and are nonpolarized so they won’t turn modern digital cockpit displays dark, or hide slick spots or standing water on taxiing surfaces. Contact:

Pocket-Size Wonders
Matchbox Aeronautical Systems makes a diminutive, featherweight line of handy devices to reduce in-flight monitoring workload at an affordable price, with a high degree of accuracy. The FC-1 Flight Companion measures just 1.5 x 2.5 inches, about the size of a matchbox. Designed and engineered “by pilots, for pilots,” the FC-1 combines a number of features in such a tiny package: sophisticated audio interface system accepts external MP3, GPS and cell phone products; digital Altitude Alert System; digital Tank Timer for fuel management; and power management system to maximize onboard 9V alkaline battery life to 25 hours continuous use.

The altitude alert keeps the pilot within 100 feet of set cruise. If you diverge, a blue LED and high-frequency tone let you know. The tank-timer function alerts the pilot every 30 minutes of run time to switch tanks. There’s also an ATC Auto Mute function. Contact:

Fly Your Own Airliner!
A new flight simulator company lets customers build authentic cockpits to their own specifications. CockpitSonic USA sims serve up a ton of real-world feel, features and details from Big Iron cockpits and other famous aircraft. Made in Germany, the new line offers comprehensive multiwindow visual displays, and realistic throttle levers and other cockpit controls. The first model, recreating the Boeing 737, debuted at Sun ’n Fun and was mobbed by visitors. The company says it will soon be followed by Airbus 340, Boeing 747-400, Cessna 172 and Robertson R22 chopper versions. And maybe a P-51 cockpit, too!

Complete flight decks can be built to simulate the entire range of pilot cockpit workflow. The simulator’s software engine is based on either Microsoft Flight Simulator or X-Plane. Additional software suites such as glass cockpit software, can be screened up to complete the sense of realism sufficient for airline refresher or ATP training. Contact:


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