By now almost everyone in aviation has heard of Garmin’s Emergency Autoland concept. If you missed the flight trial video over on sister publication AVweb it’s worth a look. Generally jaded by new avionics tech, you’ll tell by my expressions in the footage that Garmin’s Autoland is undeniably a remarkably well-executed third layer in what the company calls the Autonomi suite of background automation. More than seven years in the making by a team of hundreds of talented people, after flying with Autoland it’s impossible not to respect Garmin’s achievement, although if anyone can do it, I’d expect Garmin to, given its record for dishing out new products almost daily. But let’s tamp this announcement down some and look beyond the shock, awe and the sappy product advertising clips, shall we? There’s a bigger story that’s getting lost in the celebration—from aircraft sales to insurance matters.
Chances are youve flown with a David Clark headset at least once, and you might even own a set or two or three. As my short attention span flashed back to 1986, or so, it seemed fitting to try David Clarks latest Pro-X2 model for the field report we ran in the October 2019 Aviation Consumer. When the article (and the video chaser) hit, some wrote in saying they were happy the company was still selling headsets because like me, David Clark was the first headset they bought-and the set still works.
One of the biggest gotchas with major upgrades-and it doesn't matter if it's avionics retrofits or airframe and engine mods-is not keeping the system current with the latest software and hardware mods. These may come in the way of service bulletins, software bulletins and service letters. At the least, you may not be taking advantage of a system or its interface to its fullest, but more serious is doing nothing, potentially leaving you vulnerable to an inflight failure. That's what FAA ADs are for, of course, but they (sometimes, not always) don't always occur until something crashes or comes close to crashing.
These are often first-time vendors invited to set up shop in the AirVenture Innovations Showcase building at Oshkosh. I like spending time there because its a good place to shoot. The lighting is good, its relatively cool and its the launching ground for products that are a little different than the ones around Boeing Plaza. Some make only one appearance at the show, but others have enough momentum to come back for more. That was the case with Opener Aero, which was the attention getter last year with its BlackFly ultralight.
Youve got the airplane partly configured for landing on a long final and the tower hasnt yet cleared you to land, but says to continue at best speed. To make the airplane go faster, you retract the landing gear and clean up the flaps. Then youre instructed to do a present-position 360 because the sequencing just isnt working out and a Falcon is beating you to the runway. Halfway through your circle, the tower clears you to land, you tuck in on final, put in some flaps and come over the numbers kind of hot. Something definitely isnt right in last two seconds of the flare because the tires arent touching.
You can skirt the airspace, of course, but for many that won't be practical. For these operators the FAA has a new "statement of policy for authorizations to operators of aircraft that are not equipped with ADS-B Out equipment." More on that in a minute. I can see the panic building, even with new products that make for easier compliance. As an example a reader recently asked for my advice for fitting avionics in his recently purchased Archer. Since the airplane needed an IFR GPS, a transponder and an ADS-B Out upgrade to satisfy the mandate (six months away, as I type), we concluded that Garmin's new GTX375 is a logical choice. As we reported in the May 2019 issue of Aviation Consumer, this latest all-in-one navigator makes sense for federated panels because it works with a good variety of third-party accessories. In this Archer, the 375 can drive the existing King HSI, it can connect to the existing autopilot, plus it has a built-in 1090ES ADS-B transponder to replace the King KT76A, and most important-it satisfies the mandate. Although hardly a slap and go, the installation won't require lots of radio stack rejiggering because it's nearly the same height as the King KLN-series GPS that it will replace. Doing some back-of-the-napkin math, also figuring some other work that needed to be done, I sent him to a few well-respected avionics shops for proposals to compare with my notes. He came back with bad news: None of the shops could touch the installation for at least six months or more.
Wanna know something? After processing the flights with all of these systems, I cant honestly pick a favorite. The significance to that is I couldnt suggest one over another because all of these retrofit systems, in their most tricked-out form, do what most buyers expect them to do. First, they offer relief from vacuum systems. Get rid of it-all of it.
In the product warranty article in the April 2019 Aviation Consumer we described reader Joel Rosenlichts experience with the Rolls-Royce 250-B17F turboprop engine in his Silver Eagle-converted Cessna P210.
Cessna's first post-World War II twin-engine airplane, the venerable 310 is a logical consideration for anyone looking to step into the world of piston twins. While it doesn't come without some quirks, it's roomy, stable and has cruise speeds that top 200 MPH.
The $1395 GTR200B (the B is for Bluetooth) picks up where the first-gen $1199 GTR200 (still available) left off and sports the same chassis and overall footprint. Weighing just shy of two pounds, the radio measures 1.35 inches high by 6.25 inches wide and 9.39 inches deep with the interface connectors in place. That chassis is fairly deep and can pose a challenge for some panels, but it's slim enough to save space on the face of the panel.
Its bad enough to shell out two grand for a force-fed government mandate, and it would be worse if the product became orphaned should the courts rule in Garmins favor. Weve seen it before. Recall the contentious losing battle ADS-B maker NavWorx had with the FAA when the agency ultimately pulled the plug on its products after determining they didnt meet some of the stringent certification specs.
The WingBug pod creates concurrent point-to-point Wi-Fi connections to multiple tablets or smartphones at once. But consider when multiple Wi-Fi devices like ADS-B receivers, satellite hotspots and action cameras are fighting to connect to the pilot's tablet in a point-to-point peer connection.