Pilots who are tired of carrying around kilos of paper terminal charts might want visit Jeppesen (Booth No. 336) and SolidFX (Booth No. 898) here at EBACE to check out the SolidFX FX8 and FX10 digital chart readers. The FX8 and wireless connectable FX8-G are the newest paperless-cockpit devices from SolidFX that store and display Jeppesen IFR terminal charts, eliminating the need to carry paper charts.
The larger FX10 ($1,595) with a 10.2-inch display was the first SolidFX unit to market, but now the 8.1-inch FX8 ($1,195) offers similar capability at a lower cost and lighter weight. The FX8 comes in two equally priced versions, the FX8-G with wireless connectivity and FX8 without.
All the SolidFX units display PDF files clearly, including e-books in PDF format and
FAA publications, such as the Instrument Flying Handbook and Aeronautical Information Manual. Adding new PDF-based documents to the FX8 and FX10 is as easy as plugging the unit into a computer’s USB port and dragging and dropping files onto the FX8’s or -10’s personal documents folder.
The SolidFX display uses e-ink technology, which is found on most dedicated e-book reader devices and provides plenty of contrast and readability that improves in direct sunlight. There is no backlight, however, so external lighting is needed for night operations. Battery life on the 20.1-ounce FX10 is about 10 hours, while the 12.6-ounce FX8 lasts about 24 hours per charge.
The FX8 and -10 do not have GPS receivers and do not display any position information on the charts. For now, Jeppesen does not offer en route charts on
the SolidFX, but these will be available later. The displays use touch-screen technology, which enables unique features for digital chart readers, including the ability to pan a chart to look at a specific area or to zoom in by drawing a box around an area with the stylus.
The displays also have a note function, allowing the user to write notes on a chart with a stylus, for example drawing an arrow on an approach plate pointing to the final approach fix or writing an important number on a blank area. Another useful feature of the drawing capability is highlighting the pathway of an ATC taxi clearance on an airport diagram. A notepad function includes pre-formatted pages, including blank flight-plan and clearance forms, VOR test log and en route notes, which the user fills out using the stylus. These can be saved. A customizable notepad will be added in the future.
The larger FX10 shows approach charts in full size, while the FX8 either shrinks them down slightly (in full-chart view mode) or allows the user to view part of the chart on the screen. In this case, the user can switch between top and bottom views to see all of the information on the chart.
For subscribers to Jeppesen’s JeppView program (for example, on a cockpit multifunction display), adding the FX8 or -10 subscription is reasonably priced at $55 more for the continental U.S. and an additional $770 for a worldwide subscription.