UAV Produces Touch EFIS

UAV Navigation typically builds sophisticated avionics for aerial drones and military aircraft, but has recently branched out to create a touchscreen and/or joystick controlled EFIS suitable for experimental and light sport aircraft.

The EFIS, which has been tested under Red Bull Race conditions (+9gs and +230 kts), has an extremely sensitive AHRS unit depicting attitude, airspeed, altitude, side-slip, trajectory vector, heading and roll rate. The HSI screen shows a standard two needle complete navigation solution, including distance to waypoints, current position, TAS, groundspeed, and wind, all computed from an internal 12-channel GPS. The EFIS also doubles as a complete flight logging instrument, recording parameters such as lat/long and gs pulled, all of which can be downloaded with a standard SD flashcard.

The EFIS fits in a standard 3.125-inch instrument panel hole, making it a good candidate for a "glass" upgrade to an analog experimental aircraft panel. UAV has priced the units at $4,000, with an additional $1,200 for an engine monitoring component that can handle the sensors for most four and six-cylinder engines.

Zodiac CH 650 Surprise Introduction

Drafting behind the more widely publicized STOL CH 750, Zenith Aircraft’s second debut at AirVenture was the new Zodiac CH 650. Available as a kit, plans-built plane or factory-built SLSA by AMD, the CH 650 is based on the Zodiac CH 601 XL model. Developed in response to builder feedback, the 650 has a larger cabin than the 601.

A major improvement is the larger canopy with increased headroom. Staff engineer Caleb Gebhardt noted, “We changed the latching system so it’s simpler and easier to build. The lighter canopy is easier to control in windy conditions, and when you’re sitting on the ramp, it won’t pop up on you.” The 601 XL latch is in the canopy frame, and the studs are on the fuselage. On the new system, the latch is built into the fuselage so you keep the heavy pieces of the system on the fuselage; the studs are built into the framework. It also offers rollover protection in the canopy system using vertical tubes.

Gebhardt adds, “The 650 is a combination of the XLs in different markets: the European XL, the AMD factory-built plane and the kit-built XL. We took what we liked best about all three and put them into one aircraft. We think it’s a major improvement.”

Well, what about the 601 XL you’ve completed (or are still completing)? No worries. Gebhardt told us, “We worked hard to make sure that the major portions that we changed were retrofittable for the XL. The rudder has been swept back for greater efficiency and a cleaner look. We changed a lot of little things to make it easier to build that aren’t necessarily obvious. They’ll reduce build time, and will remove confusion in reading the plans or looking at parts. It’s more streamlined and more clear.”

The CH 650’s takeoff roll and landing distance are booked at 500 feet, with a 1000 fpm climb. Using a 110-hp Jabiru 3300 as an example engine choice, max cruise at 75% power is 138 mph, with a stall speed of 44 mph with flaps, and 51 mph without. With an empty weight of 695 pounds and a gross weight of 1320 pounds, the 650 allows a useful load of 625 pounds; fuel capacity is 24 gallons. Of course, your personal engine choice and the resulting performance figures may vary.

The introductory rudder kit (tools not included) runs $375, a good way to get the feel of Zodiac construction before you commit to the kit. The detailed blueprints and manual, including the serial number, are available for $495 if you want to build from scratch or examine the design and construction prior to building a kit. The airframe kit is $14,275, and the finishing kit (including spring gear, wheels with brakes, canopy, seat belts and more) is an additional $4225. If you prefer to pay as you build, separate component kits are available from the factory.

Want a fly-away factory-built 650? You can buy the American-made factory-assembled and certified Zodiac CH 650 LS Light Sport Aircraft from AMD. An IFR certified model is also available; check with AMD for pricing. The IFR-equipped CH650 LSi on display, with a 100-hp Continental O-200 engine, featured a show special price of $114,900.

JPI Rolls Out Four New Instruments

J.P. Instruments announced three new displays for twin-engine aircraft, as well as a fuel quantity instrument—all will be available in January 2009.

JPI's Ottis Cameron gave us the rundown of each display, starting with the 6.5 x 5-inch single display Twin EDM-960. Expected to sell for about $15,000 for a six-cylinder display, including all probes and leads, the all-in-one instrument displays the manifold pressure and rpm for both engines in a conventional arced display with a dual needle. In addition to the graphical display, both MP and rpm readings are displayed in a large blue box with the digital readout.

Vertical bars with dual needles display your oil temp, oil pressure, fuel pressure, volts, fuel flow and fuel quantity on the right-hand side of the display. The screen is laid out in a logical, uncluttered fashion—the arcs are clustered together, as are the bars.

The display is bright, crisp and has good contrast; in a busy cockpit, it doesn’t seem as if it would take extra brain power to integrate the information. EGT and CHT information for every cylinder is depicted graphically and numerically in the lower left quadrant of the screen, accompanied by the OAT digital readout. A USB port is installed in the instrument, allowing you to download the data in the plane without hauling your laptop out.

The flat panel EDM-760 for twin-engine planes features a bright new color 3.25 x 4-inch LCD, a real improvement over the traditional displays. Priced at about $5000 when it becomes available, the EDM-760 displays the CHT and EGT for each cylinder full-time in large, bright white digits; the appropriate cylinder number being read is highlighted in white as well. Other features include lean find, shock cooling, and long-term memory with USB downloading incorporated.

JPI’s new twin fuel flow instrument, the 3.125-inch Fuel Scan 450M, will retail for $1695 when available. It features a larger LED format readout for the flow rate, as well as total fuel numbers. It has the same format as original 450, displaying the calculation in the lower window, including total fuel used for the left or right engine, fuel remaining and time remaining.

The FQ-400 is a 2.25-inch dual fuel level capacitance instrument, showing left and right tank fuel quantity. The price point hasn’t been finalized yet, and it’s intended to be a modern replacement for the older aircraft capacitive sensors.

Aveo's RockRack Streamlines Panels

Settled quietly next to the dazzling display of AveoFlash LED aircraft lights, AveoEngineering’s selection of aircraft cockpit rocker switches demonstrated their own brand of brilliance. Called RockRack, this innovative modular system allows you to set up your dash as you wish. The sleek curved modules lock together with a dovetail design, and are backlit with LEDs to enhance readability in both bright and overcast conditions.

Available since July 27, RockRack offers 21 different backlit icons, including master switches, each lighting circuit, fuel pump, alternator and weather. Each switch takes 20 amps, is available in 12 or 24 volts, and includes integrated resistors. They have a mechanical life of 150,000 cycles, so rock away.

A pack of eight switches goes for about $286 from Aircraft Spruce, and can also be installed in certified aircraft.

WomenVenture Success

Ten-thirty a.m. August 1, in AeroShell Square at EAA's AirVenture 2008—anyone there found their way blocked by a sea of pink-shirted women that covered the concrete from the KC 135 Tanker to the Ford TriMotor to the DC-3s. An estimated 1,000 women pilots turned up to be seen and photographed in an effort to set a record as being the largest gathering of women pilots in one place at one time, ever.

"This idea, spawned by EAA consultant Patricia Luebke, has taken off," said Elissa Lines, V.P. of Development for EAA. "We hope that the sheer number of us gathered here today on AeroShell Square will inspire other women and girls to take a chance on aviation, or even just to try out flying for fun, or more."

[sc:ad180 ] So, who was there? Patty Wagstaff, Julie Clark, Debbie Rihn-Harvey, Jill Long, Jackie Warda - all air show greats, stood shoulder to shoulder with Women Airforce Service Pilots who ferried WWII aircraft and trained cadets in the 1940s, as well as engineers such as Anna Mracek Dietrich (Terrafugia) and educators, including Dr. Peggy Chabrian, President of Women in Aviation, International. Mary Grady, from AvWeb, and this reporter, despite her feelings about pink, made the trek to the square, too.

Where did they come from? All over the U.S., and abroad, too. Michelle Bassenesi, a flight instructor, flew in from Rome, Italy, where she teaches, just to be counted. Another flew her 1996 Pulsar (which she built and has flown for 1,000 hours) from Oregon, to be at this show. Two more teamed up and arrived for the first time on their own in a Cessna 172. Denise Waters, an A&P; mechanic and constant presence in the EAA KidVenture tent during the show, came to honor the spirit that drove her to build a Wheeler Express with her father.

And what did they prove? That women who fly (and several who build) do come to EAA AirVenture, and in numbers that can influence the next generation of general aviation pilots, who might just be women, too.

Still Here After 22 Years, Jerry's One Man Band

Sure, just uttering the word "Oshkosh" among a bunch of pilots brings expressions of contemplative bliss to most of their faces. I'm no different, I've made the annual pilgrimage over 20 times myself. Yeah, the aircraft and aviation products are a huge draw, but I always get a smile on my face when near a certain out of the way corner between the exhibition hangars and a long line of Porta-Potties. You just can't help but get a little spring in your step when passing by, because there's no avoiding the constant serenade from Jerry Sleger, of Jerry's One Man Band.

Part accordion virtuoso, part garage sale, and flavored with a bunch of Rube Goldberg, Sleger has been occupying his spot at AirVenture for the last 22 years. And for those of us who sometimes feel that this world is moving way too fast for us to keep up, one steadfast constant is Jerry Sleger, who tirelessly dispenses toe-tapping polkas and waltzes year after year. After year. And I'll even admit it's not just the music - I'm a sucker for the mechanical monkey and hula-girl who keep time to Sleger's offerings.

OK, Sleger has made some concessions to modern technology. Since 2002, he's been offering CDs as well as cassette tapes of his music, if you're so inclined. But for a measly fin, you can still get a cassette. A CD will set you back four bucks more. In an environment where expensive aviation goodies and expensiver airplanes abound, Sleger's music is an absolute steal (although some would argue that accordions are incapable of producing 'music' at all).

Whatever. I just bought all three CDs, and I fully intend to share them (quite liberally) with my friends while were driving the rental back to the airport in Chicago (they can thank me later). But I'm already looking forward to our next AirVenture visit next year, and not just because of all the neat airplane stuff. There's a little musical oasis here, as constant as the sun, where one can sit on a bench in the shade and experience a simpler time. And it won't cost you a dime.