Old-Timer, New Ideas
I would like to offer a comment on Stein Bruch’s article “All About Avionics,” which appeared in the August 2011 issue of your magazine.
As an old-timer homebuilder I am following the progress of technology in different areas of our industry. I totally agree with the author that electronic flight instrument systems (EFISes) have come a long way in the past few years. With the advance of this technology, availability of reliable systems is improved, and their price and footprint make these systems a viable solution for even the smallest homebuilt.
I own a RANS S-6S, built as a second project of mine in 2001. Besides the fun this airplane provides me when I’m flying it, I enjoy the never-ending little projects of improvements, modifications and maintaining the plane. The next project in line is rebuilding the instrument panel, so it’s no wonder I read this article with lots of interest.
As an old-timer, my hesitation to move from “steam gauges” to digital was, and still is, there. On the other hand, the digital systems have so much to offer and at such a (relatively) low price….
With my technical background in the area of data communication, it is easy for me to see that for companies such as Dynon, Advanced Flight Systems and others, it is only one short step to develop another line of products. Consider the following: an LCD screen shaped like a traditional instrument panel where “steam gauges” are displayed on it “electronically.” Or how about discrete instruments-altimeters, airspeed indicators,
attitude indicators, and directional gyros (heading indicators)-operating in the same mode, i.e., digital display of steam gauges while the data to drive these devices comes from the same source as the digital systems?
My question is very simple: Am I the only intuitive old-timer who sees the need for such a line of products? The question is directed to the readers and to the companies involved with these technologies.
Nati Niv, EAA 749796
Indeed, you are not the only one who has asked this question and are not the only one who would like to see this sort of layout. In fact, even some major airlines have used this type of layout. Southwest Airlines has used a similar layout on its EFIS displays, where standard round gauges are represented on digital displays. Additionally, and recently, Advanced Flight Systems saw the benefit of a similar layout and has implemented it on the company’s new larger screens with terrific results. The AFS version is extremely nice when you see it in person.
I think as time progresses you’ll see more and more options that allow pilots who are familiar with older-generation systems as well as new-generation systems to utilize technology in whichever way works best for their own preferences. As with many things in this business, other companies are likely to follow Advanced Flight Systems’ lead at some point (as various companies have borrowed from each other in the past).
Thanks so much for reading my article, and thanks for the excellent question!
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