Vertical Power took the wraps off an intriguing backup EFIS at Sun ‘n Fun that the company claims can fly your airplane safely all the way to the threshold of the best appropriate runway in an emergency. Press one button, and the unit will calculate the best airport you can safely glide to, taking into account wind, terrain and obstacles. The VP-400 EFIS will then present highway-in-the-sky type guidance cues on the display to guide you to the ground, and even fly the path, including S turns if necessary, using the autopilot.
Developed for the experimental market in conjunction with Laminar Research, the company behind the X-Plane flight simulation PC software, the VP-400 integrates several technologies that together make the airport guidance possible. One of the enabling technologies is “runway seeker,” which constantly calculates, in real time, the glide path to every runway within gliding range. It takes into account terrain, obstacles, winds (provided you have an optional ADS-B transceiver with weather capability), runway length, facilities at the airport and a variety of other factors to determine the best runway.
Besides flying the airplane, the VP-400 can also control the flaps to manage aircraft energy during an emergency descent. By using a combination of pitch and roll control via the autopilot and deploying the flaps automatically via Vertical Power’s electronic circuit breaker system, the runway seeker can ensure the aircraft arrives at the runway precisely on heading, airspeed and altitude.
The EFIS, priced at $8,000, also includes a built-in WAAS GPS receiver. The product is expected to be available for shipping in the second quarter.