Mastering the Navigator

Well, perhaps "mastering" is too strong a word, but the second and final day of the Avidyne 440/540 class certainly worked to develop our skill with the units where flying them in IFR conditions is within the scope of our capability. It's not like the old days where all you needed to be able to do was tune in the correct VOR frequency and diddle the OBS to center the needle – along with the great capability of such navigators (whether from Avidyne or Garmin) comes the responsibility to learn the many complexities to avoid getting caught at the dead end of a logic path while bumping around in the clouds.

The class, provided by Avidyne’s national training partner, Gary Reeves of Pilotsafety.org, was mostly scenario-based, using demo units mounted with power supplies as well as the iPad simulator which faithfully duplicates the operating system of the actual device. The iPad app is good enough to be able to follow everything that the real box can do, greatly enhancing the training opportunities of pilots trying to learn and stay current on the box. The scenarios involved planning a flight that included departure, enroute, arrival, and approach segments, then letting the simulator go and throwing in alterations and diversions along the way. Everyone got a chance to use the units “hands on” as well as following along on their iPads and watching other students as they worked the problems. This really exposed us all to the capabilities and potential pitfalls of operating a full FMS and keeping track of what was happening, and what was going to happen next.

In addition to the scenarios, we walked through all of the various menus for operating the Comms and Navs, the setup menus (so that we could discuss all of the options available), and the ways in which an iPad can be interfaced with the installed boxes to provide command and display functions to and from the unit. The Avidyne boxes work well with a new custom-designed Avidyne App that duplicates the panel mounted unit and give the pilot a much larger screen – and they also play well with Foreflight (and potentially other iPad charting apps that are becoming popular).

Now its on to Lakeland to begin getting ready for Sun ‘n Fun – keep checking back here at Kitplanes for day-by-day coverage of what’s new, what’s still out there – and whatever we might find to tickle your fancy. Its our goal to give everyone a taste of what’s going about the grounds of the first major fly-in of the season – whether you can join us in Florida or not!

Paul Dye

Paul Dye, Kitplanes® Editor in Chief, retired as a Lead Flight Director for NASA’s Human Space Flight program, with 40 years of aerospace experience on everything from Cubs to the space shuttle. An avid homebuilder, he began flying and working on airplanes as a teen, and has experience with a wide range of construction techniques and materials. He flies an RV-8 that he built, an RV-3 that he built with his pilot wife, as well as a Dream Tundra they completed. Currently, they are building a Xenos motorglider. A commercially licensed pilot, he has logged over 5000 hours in many different types of aircraft and is an A&P, EAA Tech Counselor, and Flight Advisor, as well as a member of the Homebuilder’s Council. He consults and collaborates in aerospace operations and flight-testing projects across the country.

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