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Mon, Oct 31, 2005

Aero-News Alert: Columbia Announces G1000-Equipped Columbias With 'Ready Pad'

Columbia Buyers May Choose From Garmin and Avidyne PFD/MFDs

It's been tough keeping a secret for the last few days, but ANN can now tell you that Columbia Aircraft Manufacturing Corporation (CAM) will be using the occasion of the annual AOPA Expo this week to unveil their new Garmin G1000-equipped Columbia 350 and 400 with the new READY Pad  (Remote Access Data Entry) alpha-numeric key pad.

The G1000 panel integrates all flight and navigation instruments into two 10.4" high resolution landscape format screens separated by a slim audio panel. This newest version of the G1000 eliminates the traditional radio rack and incorporates the GPS/NAV/COMM, autopilot, transponder and Flight Director into one easy-to-use package on the instrument panel.

With the G1000, dual IFR GPS/NAV/COMM, transponder, and autopilot functions are now fully-integrated into the system. Consequently, Columbia pilots also get a dramatic, redesigned instrument panel and center console. Due to the PFD/MFD landscape orientation, the panel bolster has been raised to create additional leg room. The new center console, sans radio rack is also home to a unique feature currently available only on Columbia aircraft, the READY Pad. READY Pad is the first alpha-numeric key pad control for an integrated instrument panel ever offered on a personal aircraft. Columbia pilots can access PFD/MFD functionality at their fingertips and no longer need to twist knobs to enter numeric or alphabetic data – it can simply be punched in.

According to CAM Vice President of Marketing and Sales Randy S. Bolinger, "Integration has been a buzz word since the advent of glass cockpits in personal transportation. But there is a simple exercise anyone can do to determine just how integrated their cockpit really is. Sit in any aircraft and count the number of boxes in the radio rack, rocker switches and bezels for trim indication, oxygen level and so on. Chances are you'll find countless combinations of stand alone GPS, transponders, autopilot control heads and more – then come fly a Columbia and let us demonstrate how true integration works and how intuitive the flight planning can be with a keypad."

The G1000 installation in Columbia 350s and 400s features Garmin's newly certified digital flight control system. The heart of the system is the Garmin GFC700 autopilot, which provides AHRS-based situational reference and dual-channel, self-monitoring safety features previously found only on high-end business jets. The system uses prestored data from the Columbia's flight manual to optimize performance over the entire airspeed regime. Like most glass cockpits, the G1000 provides precise lateral and vertical navigation guidance for all phases of flight. However, the G1000 system in Columbia aircraft also provides features like the ability to maintain airspeed in climbs and descents, VNAV profiles, vertical speed reference and automated go-around procedures. Also standard on the G1000 suite is E-Prox Terrain Awareness, EMonitor Engine and Systems Management, SatWX Weather Datalink and SatRadio Entertainment.

"Garmin's new digital flight control system is a significant advance for pilots of personal aircraft," Bolinger said. "It provides performance and safety features that, until now, you could only find on multi-million dollar business jets. This is a fantastic system."

While the G1000 is the latest offering from Columbia Aircraft, it's only one of two glass cockpit, integrated flight decks the company offers. Columbia buyers may still select the award-winning Avidyne Entegra avionics suite, available exclusively in Columbia aircraft in portrait format, if they prefer.

"We're excited to have been selected as the manufacturer to bring the G1000 with READY Pad to our segment of general aviation and offering customers the choice of avionics suites with two very unique attributes [landscape and portrait format] is what people expect from a premier aviation company," Bolinger said. "Certainly other manufacturers will follow our lead with the alpha-numeric user interface because it helps make flying a modern aircraft even more intuitive and safe."

The G1000 panel is now available on all Columbia 350 and 400i, SL and SLX models.

ANN was honored to get the first press viewing of the new G1000 equipped Columbias earlier this morning, and will be filing a flight report on the new system shortly... Don't miss it!

Columbia Aircraft manufactures two certified aircraft types. The Columbia 350, 350i, 350SL and 350SLX are normally aspirated, four-place aircraft with a cruise speed of 191 knots. The Columbia 400, 400i, 400SL and 400SLX are intercooled, twin-turbocharged, four-place aircraft certified to FL250 with a cruise speed of 235 knots.

FMI: www.flycolumbia.com

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