Aspen Avionics has recently come out with some new products and product features that continue to add to the allure of its ingenious Evolution Flight Display (EFD), a compact, easy-to-install retrofit (mostly) PFD that the company launched several years ago. The product has proved popular with owners of all kinds of aircraft, from light singles through larger twins, in part because it offers a lot of capability for less. Aspen has delivered nearly 5,000 displays around the world.
Over the past couple of years, however, the big question for Aspen has been how to grow the business. Those who know the company’s history won’t be surprised to learn that it has come up with some unconventional and intriguing ideas on the subject, including a way to link your iPad or tablet computer to your panel-mount system and an autopilot interface that allows owners to upgrade their autopilot and have it play nicely with the Aspen PFD. Aspen announced both initiatives at AirVenture Oshkosh last year. We had a chance to check out the products installed and flying at Sun ’n Fun.
As has been the case with all of Aspen’s products to date, Connected Panel and the autopilot interface are both ways to create value for existing or would-be Aspen customers while making the company’s core offering, the Evolution Flight Display, a more versatile and therefore more enticing product.
When Aspen Avionics introduced its Evolution Flight Display, a primary flight display (PFD) that was designed from the start to be an easy add-on for thousands of existing airplanes, the company was staking its claim to an important part of the panel. The EFD, which is inexpensive and has an integrated ADAHRS and air data computer, along with GPS/WAAS and more, was designed to also work with the components customers already had in their panels, including the Garmin GNS 430 and GNS 530 navigators, which are installed in the panels of around 100,000 airplanes worldwide.
The Aspen Approach
The magic behind the Aspen PFD is that it doesn’t require any surgery to the existing panel in order to install the display. The guts and brains of it reside in the space behind the round hole vacated by the former electromechanical instruments. The former round gauges are redistributed to serve as standby instruments, so no additional expense is needed there either. The biggest expense typically is installing the proprietary antenna for the system. Still, the costs associated with getting a PFD in the panel of a former steam gauge airplane are lower than ever.