Avionics Report

September 2008 Issue

L3’s SmartDeck: First-Class Glass

SmartDeck is arguably the best glass cockpit yet for light aircraft. But it still has a few kinks to fix—and an OEM to woo—before it can claim any titles.

The first thing we noticed about the SmartDeck is that its just looks great. Our flight tests proved that this beauty was more than skin deep. Subtle shading and thoughtful grouping of information meant we were rarely searching for something on the screen. This is not the case with other, more widely used integrated cockpits. That attention to detail and the pilot interface is, perhaps, both SmartDeck’s greatest attribute and its greatest flaw. L3 took its time putting this thing together—perhaps too much time. The current SmartDeck began as a clean-sheet design in 2003. It was certified for the Cirrus in May of 2008, and an improved version with synthetic vision and full, datalink weather will be released this fall. Highway-in-the-sky (HITS) and other improvements are in the works but have no committed timeline.

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