Starting on Page 22, you’ll find our brief “Gear in Review” feature, which highlights some of the more intriguing products we saw through the year, primarily at Oshkosh this summer. For electronics geeks, the pickings were bountiful; even on the semi-moribund side of the aisle, having to do with bread-and-butter nav/com and GPS radios, good news issued forth from Honeywell (Bendix/King) about new product to come in, oh, about a couple of years. Better late than never, I say.
Among the new releases, one caught my eye: PS Engineerings new PMA9000EX audio panel. Ill disclose that I have a PMA8000 in my airplane, probably overkill considering that I have but one nav/com, but useful for integrating multiple external audio inputs-altitude alerter from the EFIS, terrain warning from the GPS-as well as dispensing different music channels to the passengers. My pre-teen daughter gets mighty tired of Fred on XM, while I cant quite stomach three hours of U-Pop.
But everything the 8000 does the 9000EX seems to go one better. For example, there’s now an LCD panel to show the various modes-and there are many-for aux inputs and music distribution. With the 8000, you navigate through button-press combinations, annunciated (of sorts) by a clever verbal indication of the mode; it works, but I suspect plain text will be better.
In addition to the rear-panel connections for two independent stereo entertainment inputs-expected to be hard-wired to music devices or “jacked out” so you can run your own iPod into the mix-there’s a front-panel jack that can be fed stereo audio or a cell phone headset input/output. Moreover, that jack has been changed from a 2.5mm item to accept a more common 3.5mm (0.125-inch) plug. But there’s a hidden trick to that jack; it acts as a front-panel USB port that allows you to upload MP3 music files right into the audio panel. Total music memory is a relatively slim 512 megabytes-call it 100 songs, depending upon how aggressively they’re compressed. In addition, the 9000EX has Bluetooth capability, so you can use your cell phone wirelessly-on the ground, of course. PS Engineering also, wisely I think, kept the pinouts the same as the 8000-and the same as the Garmin GMA 340-so upgrades are more a matter of money than wrestling with Tefzel demons. Speaking of coin, the 9000EX retails for $2395, a $400 hike over the 8000B (which now ships with the Internal Recording System standard, as it is in the 9000).
What We Didnt See
Oshkosh was perhaps the best in many years for electronics, but it was fairly quiet on the engine front. The heavy-fuel engine promised by Lycoming was a no-show, as was the parallel-valve O-540 that Engine Components said it would have ready. More than anything, these delays underscore the difficulty of developing engines, either essentially
from scratch-though the Lycoming program has been around awhile-or from known components. When will we see these engines, or even that intriguing three-cylinder Powerplant Developments Gemini LSA engine? No bets here, as anything can happen in either the engineering or accounting departments. Remember, for the engine guys, its
Marc Cook has been in aviation journalism for 19 years and in magazine work for 25.
He is a 3900-hour instrument-rated, multi-engine pilot with experience in nearly 150 types. Hes completed two kit aircraft, an Aero Designs Pulsar XP and a Glastar Sportsman 2+2.