The new breed of very light jets (VLJs) now under development could turn out to be the biggest catalyst for business aviation growth since Bill Lear’s halcyon days in Wichita. But with cost, reliability and ease of use foremost in the minds of VLJ developers, the digital cockpit systems in these pintsize business jets of tomorrow will be unlike anything most pilots have seen.
Reflecting on a “tough year” for Innovative Solutions & Support, company officials nonetheless said they are confident that the Avio NG cockpit for the Eclipse 500 will be certified before year-end. An ongoing software development delay quashed any hopes of the Exton, Pa. company receiving payments from Eclipse for flat-panel displays and other Avio NG hardware this fiscal year, resulting in revenue targets falling short of expectations.
Wall Street analysts now say the proposed merger between XM Satellite Radio and Sirius should have little difficulty winning approval from the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and Department of Justice. That could spell trouble for buyers of aviation weather datalink gear.
When I was shopping for an affordable (that means “old”) Bonanza, one of the mods that I really wanted was a “center stack” panel. V-tails of my vintage came from the factory with 1950s automobile-style panels. All the heading, attitude, airspeed and altitude data was there, but you had to hunt for it and then pull it all together in your mind’s eye.
Following the same successful road map that has served the company since its founding in 1989, Garmin International has secured a milestone contract to supply the integrated avionics system aboard Cessna’s newest business twinjet, the $2.3 million Citation Mustang.
The annual avionics trade show hosted by the Aircraft Electronics Association is a good place to get the lowdown on emerging industry trends and try out the latest cockpit and cabin gear from an array of manufacturers and suppliers.
For any pilot who’s ever sat glued to the Weather Channel or logged onto a weather Web site to keep a watchful eye on a powerful cold front or line of thunderstorms sweeping across the country, the term airborne datalink could soon take on special significance.
For most pilots, the attention-grabbing feature of the newest entries in the small-aircraft general aviation market, such as the Cirrus SR22, is probably their large-format cockpit displays. They’re colorful, bold and big, and they offer capabilities undreamed of in this class of aircraft even two or three years ago.
Bringing datalink weather information into the cockpit has never been easier or more affordable. A variety of newly available low-cost terrestrial and satellite uplink services are allowing buyers of relatively inexpensive cockpit multifunction displays to add special receivers and antennas and gain access to continuously updated terminal reports, forecasts, winds aloft, sigmets, airmets and Nexrad radar images.
Rockwell Collins has demonstrated its VHF-920A data transceiver and CMU-900 communication management unit, the key pieces of the Cedar Rapids, Iowa avionics manufacturer’s Nexcom VDL Mode 3 radio package. The demonstration occurred at the FAA’s William J. Hughes Technical Center in Atlantic City, N.J., where pilots broadcast messages using simultaneous VDL Mode 3 digital voice and data, as well as enhanced voice features of Mode 3.