What began as a clever idea by two former Eclipse Aviation engineers culminated last month with TSO approval for Aspen Avionics’ Evolution Pilot and Pro primary flight displays. Shipments of the EFD1000 Pilot product started on March 31, and will be followed this month by the market introduction of the Pro version.
Two things make the Evolution avionics unique: modular design and low price. The LCD screens are designed to slide neatly into the instrument panel holes formerly occupied by electromechanical instruments. With starting prices of around $6,000 per display unit, Evolution will give thousands of owners of light piston airplanes an affordable upgrade path to modern glass, the company said.
The $9,995 EFD1000 Pro display was developed to give professional pilots additional cockpit capabilities, including an electronic HSI with integrated CDI pointer slaved to the compass rose, and bearing pointers for VOR or GPS. Both versions of the display include integral ADAHRS, backup battery, emergency GPS receiver and an altitude alerter. The EFD1000 Pro display is an impressive piece of hardware, and perhaps for good reason. Aspen CEO John Uczekaj is the former executive vice president and general manager of Honeywell’s avionics business, where he was responsible for the Primus Epic avionics program.
Eclipse Aviation CEO Vern Raburn was so impressed with Aspen’s ideas that he sued company founders Jeff Bethel and Peter Lyons, arguing they developed their AT300 hazard awareness display while they worked for Eclipse and therefore Eclipse could claim ownership to the design. The parties eventually settled the lawsuit in a deal that gave Eclipse 1 percent ownership of Aspen.
Additional Evolution products will follow soon, including the EFD500 and EFD1000 multifunction dis- plays and a version of the EFD1000 PFD that adds features and has a bigger display. The basic displays for GA applications measure 3.5 inches wide, 7 inches tall and are 4.14 inches deep. Three displays can be installed side by side to occupy the entire instrument six-pack area.
Aspen next will seek an approved model list STC covering more than 600 Class 1 and 2 airplanes below 6,000 pounds mtow. The level C software in the EFD products limits their use to smaller airplanes, although a spokes-man said Aspen has a plan to address the turbine market.