Avionics Report

April 2009 Issue

LSA E FIS Shootout: Dynon Sets the Standard

TruTrak’s EFIS is easier to fly than Dynon’s D-100, but it requires changing the way you think about your flight instruments and it costs significantly more.

One of the benefits of a light sport aircraft is that you can install non-certified equipment. All you need is the part, a willing shop and a letter from the aircraft manufacturer authorizing the installation. With this freedom there comes the risk that you’ll add some whiz-bang item that’s about as reliable as that ’73 Fiat Spider you once fell for. Luckily, there are several reliable vendors when it comes to flight instruments. Even Garmin is stepping in with announced plans for the G3X, a derivative of the G300 display they developed for the Cessna Skycatcher. Rather than look at all systems, we took the runaway leader in LSA EFIS, the Dynon D-100/D-120 combination, and did a fly-off against one of the most radically different EFIS systems out there, the TruTrak EFIS. We flew nearly identical Remos GX airplanes with both systems thanks to Tommy Lee of Adventure Flight, in Springdale, Arkansas, and Frank Maslakow of Sierra Foxtrot Aviation in Fort Smith, Arkansas. Unfortunately, there was no clear winner. Dynon broke new ground on homebuilt/experimental scene in 2004 with a truly affordable, big-screen EFIS. There have been several software improvements since then, which Dynon offers free to its customers. Dynon’s pricing and reputation has made them the default choice for an EFIS display in LSAs. We put the D-100 through its paces on a turbulent day and found it easily up to the task. The response rate is quick and graphics scroll cleanly, although less smoothly than a G1000 system that costs 30 times as much. Much of the performance in low-cost EFIS comes from how the system adjusts the data coming from the rate sensors, or digital gyros as they are sometimes called. Dynon relies heavily on airspeed for this, but we couldn’t get the system to misbehave in slips, aggressive maneuvers, low-airspeed gyration or momentary control deflections—except for sudden rudder deflection where it overcompensated.

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