One of the most important contributions to safe and efficient communications in the cockpit has been the addition of Bluetooth communication between avionics components. Bose and Lightspeed led the way with high performance Bluetooth headsets designed to communicate with panel mounted avionics. Now, ICOM has pushed the bar even higher with two Bluetooth handheld comm radios designed to make communication clearer, safer and much less cluttered.
Replacing the stalwart A14, ICOM has now produces the IC-A16, which is smaller, but much more powerful than the A14. This little powerhouse generates 6 watts of transmit power, more than everyone else’s 5 watts. The audio is crisp and clear, putting out a whopping 1500 mW, compared to 350 mW for other models. Best of all, this little handheld is Bluetooth equipped, capable of cord-free communication with any compatible headset or portable intercom. The detachable rubber ducky antenna performs well, but those who want the ultimate in cockpit comm backup will wire in a connection to the aircraft external antenna for truly stellar performance.
For the ultimate in backup, ICOM offers the IC-A25N, which combines Bluetooth communication, along with a built in GPS receiver a VOR receiver and 2.3 inch “high visibility” LCD screen. In the event that everything in your cockpit takes a poop, you can pull this out of your flight bag, navigate home, and call the FBO to let them know to pull the car around when you land. For something with so many features that is only slightly larger than a pack of cigarettes (remember those?) this rig has a surprisingly intuitive interface. That would certainly come in handy if and when the aforementioned poop takes place while airborne.
The folks at the ICOM booth in Hangar D are knowledgeable, informative and friendly. Both David McLain and Jon Paul Beauchamp could not have been more helpful.