Two Compelling Panel Choices Now Available For OEMs and
E-I-C Note: Sorry
that the last of the these evals (the very best of them, no less)
dragged out so long, but the holidays were shorter than we expected
in terms of available work time and the workload has only
accelerated since then. Thankfully, the end of the tunnel is in
sight, there is no train whistle attached and we are pleased to
complete this carefully-thought-out series this week.
Our congrats to all those who impressed us... and 'for
shame' on all those that didn't... -- Jim Campbell,
ANN's Overworked Editor-In-Chief.
As previously noted, we don't have to tell you that aviation is
a constantly changing industry... and nowhere is that as evident as
in the panels that guide us each and every flight. The technology
now available to us is truly astounding and the manner in which two
manufacturers have tackled such primary concerns as usability and
affordability makes them both eligible for bragging rights as the
very best panels available to GA for 2009.
We had originally planned to award the title of "Best Panel" to
a single manufacturer... but after flying the best offerings from
both Avidyne and Aspen, we simply had to make two awards... for
stunningly different reasons.
In terms of usability and innovation, nothing beats the Avidyne
Entegra Release 9 glass panel system... nothing. And in terms of
affordability and innovation, the Aspen Evolution system is simply
Best Panel (Usability and Innovation): Avidyne R9
We've written SO much about R9... though we honestly feel
that we've barely covered the important aspects of the revolution
undertaken by Avidyne with their release of the most usable and
(ultimately) most capable Glass Panel system in GA today.
Obviously, we think well of the system... as it will have
cost us well over $100K by the time our full installation is
completed in the coming year with the addition of the much-awaited
DFC100 digital autopilot, as well as Avidyne's version of Synthetic
Vision, in addition to numerous other features in the offing.
As expensive as it sounds, the additional usability of our aircraft
is startling and the comfort we have found in tackling the most
complex single-pilot IFR environments so compelling that we're
beginning to think we got off cheap. The system is spectacluarly
easy to use, swift in operation and without peer in overall
Developed to eliminate complexity and reduce head-down time,
Avidyne’s Entegra 9 includes high-resolution IFD5000 displays
designed with fully redundant architecture. Instead of being
“daisy-chained,” each display has its own set of
computational modules allowing for peer-to-peer data exchange and
comparison without unfamiliar or limited reversionary modes.
Features also include dual Air Data and Attitude Heading Reference
Systems (ADAHRS), next-generation digital 16-watt VHF NAV/COM
radios, and dual WAAS/RNP-capable GPS receivers.
In addition, Avidyne’s Entegra Release 9 features
dual-redundant FMS900w systems with QWERTY keypads. Designed
to be fully integrated with the all-digital WAAS Gamma 3 CNS suite,
the FMS900w premieres two new technologies. The first technology,
termed “GeoFill,” provides intuitive selection for
creating, editing, or loading flight plan data.
Instead of displaying choices in alphabetical order within the
database, “GeoFill” predicts the next leg or waypoint
based on proximity to the aircraft’s current location. In
addition, the FMS900w includes an intuitive FMS Vectors feature.
Unlike previous generation navigators, the FMS900w calculates any
transition from the en route GPS phase of flight to an ILS
intercept without the need to suspend or interrupt guidance to the
Unlike so many other products in aviation, we have found that R9
not only delivers on Avidyne's promises... but
exceeds them. This system has our very
Best Panel (Affordability and Innovation): Aspen
If someone had told me, just a few years ago, that a
true leading-edge Three Screen Glass Panel could be bought for
about $20K and change, I'd turn them over to the Flight Surgeon,
because I would think they'd surely be under the influence of
But, believe it or not, the reality is that you can buy a
seriously capable Aspen Evolution "Triple Threat" glass panel
system for WELL under $30K... and I find that amazing... and even
more so now that we've flown it and found out that not only is it
affordable, but that it takes NO PRISONERS int he capability
department. This is a bad-ass system, folks -- it does it all, it
does it well and it doesn't cost as much as a small house to have
one for yourself.
Aspen’s amazing retrofit glass cockpit system
is both easily upgradeable and substantially cheaper to
install in any general aviation aircraft. The system features
Evolution’s EFD1000 Pro PFD, the EFD1000 MFD, and the EFD500
MFD. The EFD1000 Pro PFD provides professional-grade EFIS
primary flight instruments, including a full-featured electronic
HSI and moving map capabilities.
The EFD1000 MFD not only doubles the display area, it provides
full PFD instrument backup; by using the same hardware and software
configurations in both units, the total Evolution system provides
dual independent AHRS, Air Data Computers, compass systems, HSIs,
and more to provide full redundancy of critical systems and
The Evolution Flight Display’s consistent software
platform also allows the system to be highly flexible to a
pilot’s changing needs and budgetary allowances. The EFDs are
fully upgradeable via software updates so additional components,
such as the newly announced Version 2.0, can be added without
removing the display from the aircraft’s
panel. Introduced during the 2009 AOPA Summit, the Version 2.0
Evolution software upgrade is available for immediate installation
at any authorized Aspen dealer.
With the Version 2.0 upgrade, Aspen PFD owners are now able to
add Evolution Hazard Awareness (EHA), integrating datalink weather,
lightning detection, and traffic into the navigation display.
In addition, new enhancements include improved EFD1000
functionality and interfaces, altitude trend vector display, and
supporting interface with the EWR50 Evolution Weather Receiver.
We were not just impressed with the price but the
capabilities... unless money is no object, this remains the best
value in glass panel retrofits in all of GA. Bar none. ANN
recommends it highly.