September 2009 Issue
All-Digital Horizons: Kelly Works on a Budget
There are only two choices for totally digital attitude indicators. L-3 rolls out an impressive mini-PFD while Kelly/RC Allen offers an affordable AI.
Several years ago, the most popular add-on during major avionics upgrades was an electric attitude gyro. Paranoid owners who dreaded vacuum failure bet their lives—or at least a couple of grand—on electrically-driven steam gauge horizons for backup. But in a full-glass suite like the G1000 or Entegra, a steam gauge seems so old school. The mini glass backup instruments you see in transport-category aircraft are trickling down to Part 23 aircraft. Currently, two manufacturers have approved products: L-3 Avionics with the pricey Trilogy Electronic Standby Instrument system, and Kelly Manufacturing with the RC Allen with the more basic, and cheaper, 2600 electronic horizon. These units are opposite ends of the market. L-3 Avionics (and former BF Good-rich) boasts a proven track record for extremely reliable electric, analog instruments. You find them in high-end business jets and in airliners, too. The ESI-1000 integrated standby system follows in high-end L-3 tradition. It’s an impressive instrument with an impressive price of $15,000. Despite the heavy price tag, Trilogy is generating lots of intrigue among glass cockpit owners. Trilogy can back up a big-screen PFD or old-school steam gauges, and has multiple TSO approvals applicable to various flight-instrument functionality including Airspeed, Attitude, Altimetry, Heading and Multi Purpose Display.
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