Spend even a short time on the floor of a National Business Aviation Association convention and you better forget everything you know about the cost of owning, upgrading and operating a small piston. Yes, the jet world is a major step up in the ownership experience and aviation's high end is elegantly and seriously represented at NBAA gatherings, and the high regulatory standards of the FAA's Part 25 are very much in place. Frankly, I think the regulatory stronghold is stifling innovation.
Youve probably heard that the FAA, through its datalink weather service and support contractor Harris Corporation, is adding new weather products to the subscription-free FIS-B ADS-B data thats broadcast to UAT/978 MHz ADS-B receivers. Since the rollout was scheduled for June 2018, like others I cranked up my portable ADS-B receiver and tablet app, but didnt see the new lightning, turbulence, icing, cloud tops, G-AIRMETs and center weather advisories that are part of the new ADS-B In data. Without sampling the new weather products yet-including the planned new radar data that will replace the current Nexrad-its not fair to say the second-gen FIS-B stream will be a SiriusXM subscription killer, but based on the lineup of expected data its quite possible. Turns out implementing the new weather products isnt as easy as I thought it might be, but it will likely be worth the wait.
When we evaluated the Iridium-based Airtext cabin router in the April 2018 Aviation Consumer, overall we found it to be a good performer with rugged hardware, reliable Bluetooth and a useful suite of smartphone apps.
When evaluating products, we spend a lot of effort wringing out features and functions, but we dont report enough about the manufacturers support quality that runs in the background. Im vowing to change that because getting efficient help when something isnt right can be the difference between loving the brand or telling your neighbors not to buy it. So when I had a Bluetooth connection problem with the Garmin inReach Mini portable satcomm communicator that we cover in this issue, I tried out Garmins telephone support. Its especially relevant to our review because the inReachproducts are reasonably new to Garmin after acquiring the tech from DeLorme. Growing and supporting the adopted product line can be tricky because the in- Reach straddles multiple markets. Needing legit help, I put on my consumer hat and dialed up the 800-800-1020 support line.
There are no free passes under the STC process because when it comes to hardware, manufacturers still need to prove that a product will reliably perform in a wide variety of temperature and other environmental conditions.
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.
Theres nothing quite like fetching your bird from the shop after a high-quality engine overhaul. Done right, it should perform like it did when the aircraft came off the factory floor. In the world of aircraft ownership, thats a beautiful thing. But done wrong, you could be in for the time-consuming hassles of dealing with warranty work-or worse should the engine fail, despite it running great before handing it over to an overhaul shop. After all, engine overhauls are supposed to increase your confidence, not
With all the new avionics we reported on over the past year, readers have asked for my market predictions for the new year. Before looking into the crystal ball for 2018, its worth a look at last years performance of the avionics sector for clues. Im cautiously optimistic looking ahead because buyers bought lots of avionics in 2017-$1.73 billion worth during the first nine months.
No matter how you feel about Garmins market domination, you cant argue that the company maintains the poll position by enthusiastically pumping out a steady stream of fresh products almost on a monthly basis. But Garmin also knows how to get the most mileage from its major systems and the G600/500 retrofit PFD/MFD was getting stale.
In the early 2000s Cirrus learned that equipping an airplane with a parachute and gee-whiz avionics doesnt necessarily make it safe. As was proven more recently, favorable accident stats come from focused training. But as one Cirrus sales pro put it, its the Wild West when it comes to the market of used SR20s and SR22s because some buyers either get the wrong training or in some cases, no transition training at all. A get-in-and-go approach doesnt work well in a Cirrus.
The Gold Wing in the main photo was shot at Honda Aircraft Companys massive headquarters in Greensboro, North Carolina. Its the first thing you see when entering the main lobby, and presumably its there as an important reminder of Hondas heritage. In 1946, Soichiro Honda established the Honda Technical Research Institute to develop machine tools and engines. In 2017, the brand name is delivering an ultramodern jet. For motorheads and curious consumers alike, the Honda timeline of milestones is an interesting read.
With some new flagship piston singles flirting with the $1 million mark, its logical that qualified buyers are eyeballing the entry-level turboprop single market. That could give Texas-based Evolution Aircraft (previously Lancair, before it was sold last summer) more opportunity to sell its Evolution Turboprop experimental airplane kits. If you think the average new Cirrus, Cessna TTx or Mooney owner doesnt have time to build an airplane, you may be right. But building an Evolution isnt like building a typical homebuilt in the garage.