Aspen Avionics EFD 1000 Pro: Installation and Flight

Aspen Avionics, the little EFIS company that has taken aviation by storm with its modular PFD/MFD designed for a low cost retrofit in aircraft with traditional analog instruments, announced the availability of a NEXRAD weather enhancement for its products.

The EFD 1000 Pro is currently shipping and has been installed in Experimental aircraft as large as a P-51 Mustang, to date. Pascal Gosselin, of Aero Teknic, in St. Cyhu, Quebec, an aircraft maintenance and installation shop, was the first to receive and install an EFD 1000 Pro in Canada, and handled the installation himself.

"We did encounter a few challenges in the beginning. We could not get it to calibrate," he says. A change-out of some washers from ordinary to stainless steel resolved the problem, and the unit worked fine. "We also did a burn in of the unit on the bench before putting it in the airplane, and we discovered that it required a supplementary avionics fan to keep the unit adequately cooled," he says. "Also, currently the interface between the Garmin 430/530 and the Aspen products is being reverse engineered, so the Aspen does not talk well to the Garmin, even though the Garmin information does flow fine to the Aspen EFD."

Gosselin says that should not be a big problem, however, because the Aspen EFD 1000 Pro is primarily a software driven unit, which is what makes it so affordable. That software is constantly being upgraded and refined, and the company has been good about sending these revisions to the shop, which can install them into the units for the customer.

KITPLANES flew the EFD 1000 Pro that Gosselin installed in a Cessna 182RG during the EAA AirVenture 2008 show. The unit boots up in 20 seconds, with all of its functions available within 40 seconds. The screen is brilliant and easily sunlight readable, even from the co-pilot's seat, and even with morning sun pouring through the windscreen. Its "knobology" is simple, and one button-push brings up the soft keys, which allow the pilot to select from numerous map or PFD presentations. The unit slaved effortlessly to the Garmin 530 in the panel and picked up its flight plan and displayed it.

Inflight the EFD 1000 Pro updated smoothly, giving the pilot a realistic depiction during even steep turns. It coupled with the autopilot/GPS, even though this airplane does not yet have the software update installed to facilitate this. All in all, it was a strong performer from one of the first 25 customer installations in the field.

For more information, visit Aspen Avionics.

AirGizmos Portable Antenna Package Debuts

Air Gizmos has introduced a premium beanbag XM antenna package, designed for easy switching of your Garmin GPSMAP396 or 496 antenna between an airplane and another vehicle. Having one antenna saves on service subscriptions and alleviates the need for the purchase of additional equipment. (Use of the product requires that you first purchase the XM antenna dock.)

The antenna dock package weighs 10 ounces, and measures about 7 by 1.5 inches. The beanbag base allows you to place the dock on a glareshield or auto dashboard, and the design tames antenna cables. The package includes the base, cradle, beanbag assembly and two cables. The price is $99.95.

For more information, call 972/671-8001, or visit AirGizmos.

Hangar D, Booths 4104, 4105.

ElectraFlyer-C Concept Airplane Flying

Randall Fishman, the principal of Electraflyer, manufacturer of the Electraflyer Trike ($18,385 complete), a legal ultralight sporting a battery-powered electric engine is currently flight testing an electric airplane from a highly modified Moni motorglider fuselage and wing base.

"The main landing gear and tailwheel have been lengthened to raise the fuselage and enhance ground control," says Fishman, who built the Moni in the 1990s with a gasoline engine, and decided, after the success of his Electraflyer Trike, to modify it for an electric engine. The original two-stroke gasoline engine and propeller were completely removed and replaced with an 18 hp DC electric motor with a controller and regenerative drive attached to a composite, ground adjustable two-blade propeller. The new motor, at cruise, is 90% efficient.

The controller is managed by a throttle, and the pilot reads volts and amperes to manage the discharge rate of the batteries. When the propeller is windmilling it can, through the regenerative drive, recharge the battery. Typical takeoff power is 200 amps, which produces a climb rate of 500 fpm. Cruise power is at 33% and produces 70 mph.

Powering the machine are two custom lithium polymer 5.6 kilowatt battery packs, weighing 78 lbs. One pack sits in front of the firewall and the other is located in the tunnel that formally held the gasoline engine's exhaust.

When asked about potential heat issues, Fishman said, "Lithium-polymer batteries, when discharged properly, do not heat up." Just to be extra cautious there is fireproof material surrounding the batteries.

Electraflyer-C's test pilot Joe Benis has seen one powered flight last 5 hours, but typical flights on one 6 hour charge is currently one to two hours. The cost of the electricity to fully charge the batteries? Seventy-five cents, U.S.

AveoFlash LED Aircraft Lighting Dazzles

It's not often that I see a product that just stops me in my tracks, but upon entering Hangar B, I was like a deer caught in the headlights (literally). The AveoFlash LED lighting system from AveoEngineering shows just what can be done when high-intensity LEDs meet seasoned engineers who are given free rein to design "what pilots really want," according to John Rossall of BAE Systems (that's right, as in British Aerospace). The resulting AveoFlash line of airframe lighting leaves absolutely no doubt that Edison's single-filament incandescent lamp, as good as it is, has finally seen better days.

The AveoEngineering booth was hard to miss, with the multiple high-intensity strobe bursts lighting up the entire row of vendors. Among the products on display was a combination wingtip position and strobe unit that was happily flashing away on a single, 9-volt transistor radio battery. This elegant unit is sealed in high-impact clear acrylic, contains everything including the strobe power supply, and directly replaces the traditional position/strobe assembly found on most wingtips. Gone are the separate strobe power supplies, delicate flash tubes and glass lenses, and high current drains. A pair of AveoFlash units draws only 250 milliamps, a small fraction of the power needed for traditional position and strobe lighting.

Available now for Experimentals, a red and green pair will set you back $600, will easily outlast the airframe, and may well be the only external airframe lighting units required when properly aligned on each wingtip. Each unit also contains rear-facing white LEDs, in addition to the side and rear strobes, and the front and side facing colored position lighting. There are only four wires to connect: ground, strobe power, nav power and a single blue wire that provides a sync pulse to any other Aveo strobes in use. Already certified in Europe, AveoEngineering anticipates U.S. STC approval in September of 2008.

For more information, visit AveoEngineering.

Dunham Makes the Most of AirVenture

It’s hard to say who was having more fun at comedian/ventriloquist Jeff Dunham’s show at AirVenture's Theater in the Woods on Wednesday night: Dunham or the overflow audience. Dunham, builder and pilot of several RotorWay helicopters, spent a few days at the show having a bunch of fun in the air.

He had a +8/-3 G session with aerobatic pilot and instructor Eric Tucker on Tuesday, and on Wednesday morning, he rode back seat in a P-51D Mustang piloted by Ed Bowlin during a multi-ship photo shoot. While waiting for the other planes in the formation to finish their photo sessions, he told the audience that he actually managed to catch a 45-minute nap in that classic warbird. “I call it the All-American nap. It was the greatest nap ever.”

Dunham was able to depart from his usual performance by playing to the EAA crowd, drawing laughs as the arm fell off one of his puppets, Achmed the Dead Terrorist. The puppet snapped back at him, “You’ve got duct tape, don’t you? You’re building a freaking helicopter!”

Dunham is the builder and pilot of a 1987 Exec 162, American Might, which is on display outside the RotorWay tent. The arresting paint scheme, designed by Scottsdale, Arizona’s Larry Vela of Dreamcatcher and Primal Fear prominence, depicts Army camo pulled back to reveal a rippling American flag. (The stabilizer features a campaign ad supporting grumpy Walter for President.)

Fascinated by helicopters since childhood, Dunham was hit hard by the building (and flying) bug: He announced to the audience that his next project will be RotorWay International’s new helicopter, the A600 Talon, which debuted at AirVenture 2007. The Talon is a comprehensive redesign of the previous models, incorporating requests from customers such as an all-glass cockpit and a backup FADEC system. The 162’s primary drive chain has been replaced by a heavy-duty cog belt to improve maintenance access and component longevity.

According to RotorWay staff, Dunham is a dedicated craftsman, determined to be the only builder of his new Talon, no matter how long it takes. The holder of the Repairman Certificate for his aircraft, he included his flying experiences in the pre-show video presentation: “You’re going 90 miles an hour 600 feet in the air—there is nothing better than this. When I’m flying, I like to go low. You can see the world passing by you—you can see everything. There’s nothing more fun than this.”

For more information, call 480/961-1001, or visit RotorWay International.

Small Wonders at the Seaplane Base

It's Thursday at AirVenture and the weather is great so, with feet worn out through hiking the booths and flight lines, I took the bus out to the seaplane base. Out of the way, yes, but well worth the ride.

Wandering around I spotted a very small aircraft that had drawn a few folks and just listened in for a while. If airplane people are drawn together by a common interest, seaplane folks are more so, and in no time I was sitting at John Knapp's motorhome, cool drink in hand while he explained his plansbuilt Mini-Mong. Now, with John standing on the float you can see that it's a small airplane. But when you calibrate to John's 5-foot-2 height you appreciate this little wonder a bit more.

John built it from plans in a mere 700 hours with its Rotax engine. "I suspended it from bungee cords to figure out the float position, and when it looked about right I called it good," he joked. A bit more went into it, but he's built several other seaplanes, so it wasn't quite the the shoot-from-the-hip it would seem.

Size, though unusual, is trumped by the addition of a centrifugal clutch on the prop. Normally, a seaplane starts moving when the engine is started. With John's airplane the engine runs, but nothing else moves. Hit the gas for taxi speed and the prop comes into play. He jokes that he's tempted to ask the unwary to "prop it" sometime just for the laugh.

If you visit the Seaplane base, be aware you may be approached by a little guy with a big smile.