|The Avidyne IFD540 combination GPS navigator.
Avidyne’s first plug-and-play replacement/upgrade was the DFC90 series of autopilots that replace the existing autopilot computers in Cirrus aircraft. The DFC90 brought so much new capability for such a small installation cost and hassle that Cirrus owners have made the switch in big numbers. On Monday at AirVenture Avidyne announced it will soon do the same with its new IFD540 combination GPS navigator, VHF comm, and VHF nav designed to plug-and-play replace Garmin’s extremely popular Garmin GNS 530s.
Avidyne has taken note of how anxious airplane owners are to avoid the cost, complexity, and downtime of an all-new avionics installation and has announced a series of new technology equipment that plugs into the tray of the most popular existing panel-mounted avionics.
Avidyne’s first plug-and-play replacement/upgrade was the DFC90 series of autopilots that replace the existing autopilot computers in Cirrus aircraft. The DFC90 brought so much new capability for such a small installation cost and hassle that Cirrus owners have made the switch in big numbers.
On Monday at AirVenture Avidyne announced it will soon do the same with its new IFD540 combination GPS navigator, VHF comm, and VHF nav designed to plug-and-play replace Garmin’s extremely popular Garmin GNS 530s.
Avidyne also announced a new Mode S transponder that is a direct replacement for the Bendix/King KT76/78 units along with a new audio panel that slides into the mounting tray of a Garmin GMA 340 or PS Engineering PMA8000.
The new IFD540 provides the same functions and features as Avidyne’s R9 flight management system but is sized to fit into the radio stack.
New for the IFD540 and Avidyne is touch-screen technology that combines with familiar dedicated buttons. Avidyne believes that the basic operation of the IFD540 is so familiar that pilots accustomed to the Garmin 530 will be able to operate it with no additional training.
But with its touch-screen controls the IFD540 offers greatly expanded capability so in a short time pilots probably won’t use the bezel buttons and knobs very often.
Like the R9 system, the new IFD540 has the ability to anticipate what you will need to do next when flying in the IFR system.
For example, a touch of the “freq” button brings up the most likely frequency you will need next based on your position and route. When entering a route the most likely next fix is nominated, or appears as you enter the first character or two. And with the touch screen you can make a graphical flight plan by touching fixes on the display.
You can also drag the displayed route with your finger. This “rubber band” function allows you to easily enter a route around weather, for example, or around restricted airspace.
You can use the familiar concentric knobs on the IFD540 to enter waypoints, but you can also use a pop-up QWERTY style keyboard to touch in the data. When you modify a route the proposed change will appear in cyan on the map so you can check to be sure the route is what you intend.
And all airways are stored in the database. Simply select the airway originating at a fix and then the fixes along the airway appear so you can pick the change or exit point on the airway.
Avidyne has included its FMS Vectors display in the IFD540. The system uses the GPS to project your actual course over the ground on the moving map when you are flying in heading mode. With this feature you can see on the map where your heading—corrected for wind—will take you. FMS Vectors is particularly useful when you are being vectored for an approach because the dotted magenta line of FMS Vectors shows where you will intercept the final approach course.
Radio tuning simplified
If you choose to key in a new comm frequency instead of selecting from the most likely frequencies that are automatically nominated, you need to touch in only the minimum of numbers on the screen. For example, to enter 123.40 MHz you would touch only 234 and the full frequency would appear because the leading 1 and trailing zero are assumed.
The IFD540 GPS navigator is WAAS-enabled so it can fly the precision LPV approaches and qualifies for other required navigation performance (RNP) procedures.
The system is compatible with all of the same traffic and weather data equipment that operate with the GNS 530. The IFD540 includes a terrain awareness function and can be upgraded to the TAWS-B function that is required in most turbine airplanes.
It can also be the ADS-B position source for Mode S transponders with extended squitter (ES).
Avidyne expects the IFD540 to be certified and available in the second half of 2012 with a full retail price of $16,995. However, Avidyne is offering introductory pricing now for deposited orders that cuts the cost of the IFD540 substantially.
Even though the IFD540 slides directly into the GNS 530 mounting tray and connector, it still must be installed by a qualified radio shop because the configuration of the system must be set to match other equipment in the airplane.
There is also a logbook entry required. And if the IFD540 replaces a GNS 530 that is not WAAS enabled, you will need to change the antenna to use the WAAS capability.
Plus-and-play ADS-B compatibility
Avidyne’s new Mode S AXP340 plus-and-play transponder with extended squitter (ES) is expected to be available early in 2012 with a list price of $5,995.
When connected to an approved position source such as a WAAS capable GPS or other sensor the AXP340 will meet the ADS-B “out” rule for flight in the system after 2020.
The Avidyne TAS600A traffic advisory system will be capable of receiving ADS-B “in” traffic information and is expected to be available in early 2012. Existing TAS600 traffic systems can be upgraded to ADS-B “in” capability, and you can lock in a not-to-exceed upgrade price of $2,000 now.
Avidyne has the new equipment on display and operating at its exhibit in Hangar B here at AirVenture.