Aspen Introduces Low-cost VFR Glass Panel

 - March 13, 2014, 10:00 AM
The new Aspen Avionics VFR 1000 PFD retails for $4,995 and replaces the standard six flight instruments without panel modifications.

Aspen Avionics is extending its reach further into the general aviation market with a new VFR version of its primary flight display (PFD) glass panel retrofit product. Retailing for $4,995 (plus installation), the VFR 1000 PFD offers owners of older aircraft a way to add a single glass panel that replaces the traditional six-pack instruments, then later add more capabilities, which are available as software upgrades. “This is tailored for the VFR pilot,” said John Uczekaj, Aspen president and CEO. “What we’ve prided ourselves on is trying to find ways to bring glass-panel technology and safety into the market that can be affordable for people down to small certified aircraft.”

Aspen’s full-function EFD 1000 Pro sells for $10,187 and includes an HSI and other features that can be added with upgrades to the VFR PFD. Aspen also offers the basic 1000 Pilot PFD for $6,180, but this is not upgradeable to the full EFD 1000 capability.

The VFR PFD, like all the Aspen glass panels, fits into standard instrument panel cutouts so no modification of the panel is needed. One Aspen panel replaces two instruments, so one VFR PFD would replace the attitude indicator and heading indicator. Remaining instruments can be used as backups. Multiple Aspen displays can be installed, too, including Aspen’s multifunction displays.

Functionality of the VFR PFD is comprehensive and the unit includes an internal air-data computer and attitude heading reference system, backup battery, emergency GPS, flight plan overlay, navigation display with 360-degree or arc-mode compass and display of winds aloft, outside temperature, true airspeed and ground speed.

Upgrading the VFR PFD to the Pro configuration for $4,690 adds glideslope and localizer, minimums display, flight director, HSI functionality in 360-degree and arc modes and dual bearing pointers. With the Pro configuration, Aspen’s synthetic vision can also be added for $2,995, something that isn’t available for the VFR PFD. Other options for the VFR PFD include an analog converter unit for autopilot GPS steering, ADS-B OUT and IN and Evolution Hazard Awareness, which allows Stormscope, Sirius XM WX Nexrad and traffic information to be displayed on the navigation display.

An advantage of starting with the VFR PFD is that it contains no databases that need regular updating, something that aircraft owners will appreciate. “In surveys we found that database costs and the number of databases [needing updating] was an annoyance for pilots,” said Uczekaj. “I have four different databases in my airplane, and it gets to be ridiculous.”

Aspen is also announcing a special promotion to drive interest in its synthetic vision upgrade for the EFD 1000 Pro. “We think that’s such a big safety enhancer,” Uczekai said, “and for every EFD1000 Pro owner, we’re going to give 10 hours of free synthetic vision so they can try it. We just believe strongly that if you’re flying anywhere out west and have a glass cockpit, it’s almost mandatory to have it. We believe a lot of people once they fly it will come to the same conclusion.”