Oshkosh 2011: Aspen connects to iPads with AvConnect interface

 - July 27, 2011, 5:18 AM

Aspen Avionics and AvConnect demonstrated a new way of entering flight data into and extracting information from avionics systems at the EAA AirVenture show in Oshkosh, Wis. AvConnect (an AvFusion company) partnered with Aspen to launch “Connected Panel” technology, which will allow pilots to use mobile devices to communicate with avionics systems. 

The new system’s hardware consists of the CG100 Connected Panel unit, which will be mounted behind the instrument panel. The CG100 has USB ports and Bluetooth connectivity and flash memory storage. Aspen and AvConnect are inviting third-party companies to develop hardware and software applications that work with the Connected Panel technology.

The first application is Aspen’s Connected Pilot, which sells for less than $2,500 and includes the CG100 box and the Aircraft Manager iPad app from AvConnect. App maker ForeFlight will release a new ForeFlight Mobile version for Connected Pilot, which pilots can use to synchronize flight plans between the iPad and the Honeywell Bendix/King KSN 770, wirelessly. When looking up airport information on ForeFlight with the iPad, pilots will also be able to populate that airport’s frequencies into the KSN 770 radio’s standby frequency window. Aspen and Honeywell are jointly bringing the KSN 770 to market.

AvConnect’s Aircraft Manager app will be able to download flight hours and aircraft performance data. “[Users’] complete aircraft performance and all their pilot-related records are instantly uploaded,” said AvConnect CEO Erik Murrey. The data could also be sent directly to fleet or service managers. Connected Panel will also support other GPS navigators that are able to share data. The Connected Panel is intended to be an open system, for which other companies can develop products. Some that have committed to building Connected Panel-enabled products include Avidyne, Jeppesen, JP Instruments, Parrot, Pinnacle Aerospace, PS Engineering, Seattle Avionics and Sporty’s Pilot Shop. Connected Panel is also designed to work with mobile devices using the Android operating system. “The key is having partners willing to develop applications,” said John Uczekaj, Aspen president and CEO. And these partners will help Aspen expand its portfolio, he added. “The more partners building products that are Connected Panel-enabled, the more integrated options we can provide to the GA market.”

Aspen was hoping to have its new synthetic vision software certified by AirVenture, but vice president of marketing Brad Hayden said, “the development and certification process has taken longer than we anticipated.” Certification is imminent, and the synthetic vision for the Aspen Evolution displays will sell for $2,995, “the lowest-priced certified synthetic vision,” he said. Some of its features include Jeppesen 3-arc-second terrain data, predictive terrain warning and toggleable field of view. Synthetic vision is a field upgrade that can be done by Aspen dealers.

Aspen did receive FAA TSO and STC certification on July 25 for Version 2.3.1 of the Evolution display software. The new software is free for Aspen PFD and MFD owners, but dealers will have to do the installation. Features added in 2.3.1 include improved display of taxi diagrams, approach charts, metars and TAFs, knob functionality improvements, one-button reversionary PFD setup, user setting retention improvements and a feature that will make Aspen displays more appealing to turbine aircraft operators, support for Vmo and Mmo redline and Mach number display.

Aspen also introduced a new analog converter unit, the ACU2, which supports flight directors for common Honeywell and Rockwell Collins autopilots, dual ADF sensor input and bearing pointer display, radio altitude height above ground display and decision height annunciation, heading synchro bootstrap output and optional conventional external OAT probe inputs.