Cockpit Technologies Take Center Stage at AOPA Summit

Avionics and app makers lead product charge.

Gray and rainy skies kept some pilots from flying to Hartford, Connecticut, in time for the start of AOPA Summit on Thursday, but those who filed IFR, flew by airline or drove were greeted by a busy agenda, a packed aircraft static display and an exhibit hall brimming with new aviation technologies.

Garmin drew a steady stream of visitors to its booth, where the company was showing off the new Aera 796 portable touchscreen navigator ($2,499 list price), featuring moving map, XM weather, terrain alerting, 3D synthetic vision and electronic charts and maps. The Garmin unit is intended to counter the inroads being made by Apple’s iPad, a pilot favorite for viewing charts, maps, checklists and just about anything else that previously was printed on paper. Judging by the sheer number of iPads and related apps we spotted at AOPA Summit, it will be a heated battle.

Hilton Software, maker of the popular WingX Pro7 iPad app, announced at AOPA Summit that it’s now supporting connectivity with the XRX PCAS Traffic System from Zaon Flight Systems. The app connects wirelessly to the portable XRX traffic system to provide real-time display of traffic threats on its moving map. WingX Pro7 is compatible with both new and existing Zaon XRX systems. A small Wi-Fi unit costing less than $100 is required for connectivity, the company said.

FreeFlight Systems showed off an ADS-B technology that can enable beaming of real-time traffic targets and Nexrad weather images to an iPad as well as a cockpit MFD. The company says it is in talks with app makers about embedding the technology in their software. The FreeFlight package includes a remote-mounted ADS-B receiver, GPS receiver and Wi-Fi unit and is projected to sell for around $3,500. The installation, said the company, will provide full compliance with the FAA’s 2020 ADS-B equipment mandate.

Aspen Avionics, meanwhile, announced that Evolution Synthetic Vision (ESV) is now shipping to owners of Evolution 1500, 2000 or 2500 flight displays. Evolution Synthetic Vision display on the company’s Level B PFD is expected to hit the market next year. Aspen says Evolution Synthetic Vision is available with software Version 2.4.1 and later as a field-loadable upgrade through its authorized dealer network. Price for the upgrade is $2,995.


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