May 2018

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Subscribers Only - The smart leadership at Aspen Avionics understands this fully and has already started to change the way it certifies some of its products. As we go to press, the company announced the Evolution 5 primary flight display pictured here. The E5 hardware might look identical to the Evolution display the company has been selling for years (it does have a brighter display and faster processing power), but the instrument is really the poster child for the next generation of certified avionics.

The End Of The Road For High-Priced Avionics

That’s my prediction for the coming years and we can all thank the FAA. That’s because the agency has a welcomed shift in mentality when it comes to certifying avionics, which of course has a direct effect on pricing. The reality check is that avionics technology has changed since the bad old days of analog equipment, and the long drawn out TSO pathway to certification is finally coming to an end.

Letters From Readers: May 2018

After reading about three-blade prop upgrades in the April 2018 Aviation Consumer, I thought I would share my upgrade experience. After converting my elliptical prop tips to square tips by touching a runway at speed, I decided to change to a three-blade prop for my Mooney 231—not for the looks—but to have less noise and vibration without a performance penalty.

Electroair’s Electronic Ignition: Performance

Magnetos have been around so long that one can’t help but wonder if Benjamin Franklin went directly from his supposed kite-into-a-thunderstorm electricity experiment to his basement where he built the first one.

Garmin’s Portable WX: ADS-B, SXM Or Both

Subscribers Only - The new devices are completely redesigned and all three portable models (GDL50/51/52) share the same chassis. They stand 4.9 by 1.3 by 3.4 inches, weigh .75 pounds and have built-in antennas, but have inputs for external antennas. The receivers have an anti-skid base to keep them from sliding around when on the glareshield and Garmin has a securing base mounting bracket and a suction cup mount for the cable.

Vashon Ranger: LSA V2.0

A favorite topic of post-flight barroom chatter is anguish over the price of new airplanes and the heartfelt conviction the industry could build a $40,000 airplane if it adopted automotive manufacturing methods. If you’re a believer in that, your ship has arrived in the new Vashon Ranger LSA. But it doesn’t cost $40,000, it’s $100,000 and it may be a push to deliver on that. Against the limits of low volume, the Ranger at that price is still a high-value proposition and the company—an offshoot of Dynon Avionics—sees the Ranger as potentially nothing less than a modern iteration of the Cessna 150, with a dash of modest adventure flyer thrown in.

Insurance Market Scan: Overcapacity, Still Soft

Every few years we take a close look at the U.S. general aviation insurance market. During the research we speak with underwriters and brokers to get a feeling for what changes they see, what problems they are having and what they anticipate coming down the track for those of us who write premium checks.  …

Pilot Sunglasses: Flying Eyes, Oakley Faves

Subscribers Only - You don’t have to look far into any aviation retailer’s catalogue to find sunglasses that cater to pilots. Yes, we know there are plenty of cheaper brands you can find at Sunglass Hut and other non-aviation retailers, and we also know that selecting glasses is as personal as selecting clothing. A cheap pair of drugstore shades may suit you just fine.

ADS-B Flight Tests: Ground Check It First

Subscribers Only - The final stages of an avionics installation can be the most critical because that’s when the configuration and final testing occur. Unfortunately, it’s when a shop can be rushed to the point where you—the aircraft owner—are left holding the bag to test newly installed gear, which includes critical ADS-B equipment. The good news: Shops that do the most ADS-B retrofits will own the specialized test gear to make sure the system is programmed and properly tested before you fly the aircraft away. The better shops will fly it with you for a final check. But for shops that are less equipped, you’ll have to fly it off yourself and eyeball the data on the Public ADS-B Performance Report, or PAPR. Link to this automated tool at It can tell a shop a lot about the system’s performance should they have to troubleshoot it. When the government was paying out rebate checks for ADS-B upgrades, it required specific flight testing and a validation report for conformity. That’s no longer the case, but you might follow similar guidance when validating a new install. The FAA’s advisory circular 20-165B provides guidance for ADS-B Out system installations and airworthiness approvals. In it you’ll find the recommended flight profiles and maneuvers to perform on the flight test. Worth mentioning is that a typical FAR 91.413 transponder test won’t check a 1090ES transponder’s ADS-B data output.

Cessna 206 Stationair

Subscribers Only - The Cessna 206 Stationair is one of those airplanes that you can dress up with a classy paint scheme and a stylish leather interior to fly business associates in style. Or, put one on floats and jump in with a wet swimsuit. Got stuff to haul? Load as much as you can fit through the big cargo door. Indeed, any vintage of the Stationair can wear a lot of hats.