|Avidyne’s IFD540 touch-screen navigation-communication system.
Garmin started it more than a year ago when it unveiled its G3000 flat glass avionics system with touch-screen control pads.
Now every major avionics company is developing systems that you can tap and swipe to control.
Garmin followed that announcement with introduction and delivery this spring of its GTN 750/650 combined GPS navigators and flight management systems with first-ever touch-screen control.
The GTN 750 has the largest display for a panel-mounted GPS so far. The GTN 750 can control a new transponder and audio system that are mounted behind the instrument panel so there is room in the radio stack to mount the larger display.
The Return of Cedar Rapids
One of the biggest surprises was a touch-screen primary flight display (PFD) and multifunction display (MFD) announced at the start of AirVenture by Rockwell Collins.
Unveiling the new technology displays marked the return of Rockwell Collins to AirVenture as an exhibitor and sponsor in a very big way.
Collins is one of the oldest companies in the avionics business and has many firsts to its credit, including the first modern transceivers for airborne use, the first horizontal situation indicator that is part of every avionics display, and the first V-bar flight director.
And every astronaut’s voice ever sent from the moon back to earth was transmitted and received using Collins equipment.
The touch-screen PFD and MFD are part of the new Collins Fusion avionics system that is now flying in the ultra long range Bombardier Global Express and has been selected for installation in a number of other business jets now in development.
Part of Fusion is a new head-up guidance (HUD) system that Collins has developed for smaller airplanes.
The new HGS-3500 can project the images for the HUD from the top of the glass without the need for the large and powerful overhead projector that has kept HUDs out of smaller cockpits.
Plug ’n’ Play Performers
Avidyne also announced development of a new touch-screen navigation-communication system based on its R9 technology.
Avidyne took direct aim at the very popular Garmin GNS 530 and designed its new IFD540 to be an exact plug-in replacement for the GNS 530 so installation cost will be very minimal.
In addition to touch-screen control, the IFD540 has a “smart” operating system that anticipates your most likely next move.
So, when entering a flight plan the IFD540 will “nominate” the most likely next fix along your route.
Most of the time the fix will be the one you want, but if not, entering the first letter or two of the fix name will be enough to call up the one you want.
The IFD540 is also able to anticipate the next frequency you will use.
And the IFD540 has all of the display modes you expect such as synthetic vision, charts, satellite weather display, traffic alerts, and so on. Avidyne expects to deliver the first IFD540 in about one year.
The Avidyne IFD540 combined with the new AXP340 Mode S transponder—a plug-and-play replacement for existing KT76A/KT78A transponders—the company also announced will meet the requirements for ADS-B “out” broadcast of position and velocity data.
Avidyne has a new version of its traffic system, the TAS6000A that can receive the ADS-B “in” display of nearby traffic, so installation of the full system makes an airplane ready for the 2020 ADS-B mandate.
Aspen & Honeywell teamwork
Honeywell and Aspen announced that they are converting the GTN 770 GPS navigator to touch-screen control.
The 770 has been in development by the Bendix/King division of Honeywell for several years, but earlier this year Aspen announced that it would team with Honeywell to use its expertise in certification to move the project along.
Aspen also revealed a new connectivity hub that will link personal electronic devices such as the iPad or smartphones directly into an installed avionics system.
Aspen’s flat glass PFDs will be the “hub” for the ethernet connection and will direct data to and from the navigation system or other installed avionics.
Jepp on iPad
Jeppesen has made great strides in storing and displaying en route charts electronically with a new Mobile FliteDeck app for the iPad.
The key to successfully displaying en route charts electronically for Jepp is use of a vector graphic system.
Most electronic chart displays are really stored images of a chart, and when you zoom in or out the resolution of that image changes.
With Jepp FliteDeck on the iPad a new chart display is created at every range, preserving the sharpness of the letters, numbers, and symbols at any zoom level—keeping them very easy to read.
Jepp FliteDeck combines the en route and area charts into the same electronic subscription that includes the approach and airport charts.
Jepp has created a new division dedicated to serving general aviation pilots better, and part of that effort is offering smaller regional subscriptions for pilots who do not frequently make long trips and don’t need to pay for coverage they don’t use.
The Jepp Mobile FliteDeck app is available through the iPad store and can be downloaded just like any other app.
A number of jet operators, both airline and business jets, have received approval to use the iPad and the Jepp app to eliminate the need to carry paper charts and manuals in the cockpit.
The FliteDeck app will need no specific approval to replace paper charts in light airplanes, but certainly qualifies as a method to banish paper from the cockpit.