Plane & Pilot
Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Upgrading Your Instrument Panel

Panel-mount retrofit buyer’s guide

The majority of airplanes in the general- aviation fleet were built before glass panels and digital displays became standard equipment. If you own one of those older "steam-gauge" airplanes, it's possible to add significant new capability (and improve reliability) by replacing older instruments and radios with new equipment.

Aerosonic's OASIS is an integrated electronic standby instrument intended to replace the typical analog attitude, altitude, airspeed and heading instruments used as backup to the PFD in glass panels. It offers a 3.5-inch display with built-in battery backup power. Contact:

Alcor offers a wide range of analog engine instruments including cylinder head temperature (CHT), exhaust gas temperature (EGT), turbine inlet temperature (TIT) and combinations for single- and twin-engine aircraft. Contact:

Aspen Avionics has added new features to its popular Evolution line of primary and multifunction flight displays, including optional 3D synthetic vision and a connected panel that wirelessly communicates between the PFD/MFD and handheld devices such as an iPad. These are in addition to the basic capabilities of the Evolution series, which provide full glass-panel PFD/MFD functionality in one or two 2.6-pound, 3.5x7-inch bezels backed by 4.2-inch cylindrical "cans" that fit in standard three-inch instrument panel holes. The $9,995 EFD-1000 Pro PFD functionally replaces the attitude indicator, airspeed indicator, altimeter and rate-of-climb indicator, and offers HSI and RMI functions along with an autopilot interface that supports GPS steering. Contact:

Avidyne's new IFD540 is an integrated GPS/NAV/COM with a touch-screen interface that allows pilots to edit flight plans with the tip of their fingers. It's part of a full line of upgrades designed as plug-in replacements for older avionics (in this case, Garmin 530/530W navigators), fitting into the same trays and using existing wiring and antennas. Other Avidyne upgrade products are designed to replace older audio panels, transponders and auto-pilots. IFD540 pricing starts at $16,995. Contact:


Aspen Avionics


Bendix-King KFD-840

Bendix-King's KFD-840 is a digital PFD that replaces a standard "six pack" of steam-gauge instruments in a single 8.4-inch bezel with a full-width simulated horizon, integrated attitude and heading reference, vertical altitude and airspeed tapes, separate course and heading knobs and menu-driven "hybrid keys." Beyond conventional PFD functions, it adds additional features, including on-screen weight-and-balance computation, customizable preflight checklist and optional battery backup. It's designed to interface with a wide range of existing avionics. Pricing starts at $11,995. Contact:


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