Avionics Report

June 2009 Issue

Aspen Owners Survey: An Overall Thumbs Up

After some growing pains, this retrofit is performing well. Use an experienced shop and expect an initial shake-down period.

When Aspen Avionics announced its retrofit PFD system in 2007, we were impressed with the designís ingenuity and its workable price point. A year later, they were shipping and the field results were mixed: Capable technology but the installations werenít going as smoothly as hoped and there was a higher-than-expected failure rate. New technology always takes some time to shake out the bugs, so now that there are hundreds of units out there in the field, we surveyed users to see if the reality is living up to the marketing copy. The short answer is: The Aspen Evolution system is generally performing as advertised. There are notable exceptions, but they seem to be clustered in the earlier installs, which is the trend we want to see. As we expected when we reviewed the Evolution system a year ago, the EFD1000 Pro version is the market favorite, with 95 percent of the respondents choosing that system. The EFD1000 Pro and supporting hardware is $9995. Thatís $4000 more than the entry-level EFD1000 Pilot, but the Pilot canít interface with navigation radios or GPS. Price was the decider two to one over the next most popular reason for choosing the Aspen system. The system is approved for over 650 aircraft, but we saw the vast majority in medium- to high-performance piston singles. In several cases, part of the motivator was the cost of the alternative. As one Bonanza owner put it, "It just made sense. My Bendix/King HSI was giving me problems. The cost to overhaul and reinstall the 25-year-old HSI system was probably half of what this new system was going to be, with hoped-for increases in reliability and duplication of attitude information."

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