Aspen Option for Robinson

Robinson exploring Aspen PFDs in its helicopters.

Aspen R44

Aspen R44

Robinson Helicopter is looking at making the Aspen Evolution Flight Display (EFD) a factory installed option, Robinson head Kurt Robinson said at Heli-Expo. During his remarks, Robinson praised the compact form factor and low cost of the Aspen option, while stopping short of giving any firm promises or timetables for availability as, he explained, the company is busy with a number of ongoing certification programs, including for the R66 with Transport Canada and EASA. Aspen is hoping for the EFD to be available as a factory option beginning sometime later this year.

The Aspen option is a tempting one for Robinson and for its customers, not just for the R44, the four-place piston powered helicopter that has been Robinson's bread-and-butter product for the past two decades now. The product is a perfect fit, Aspen's Brad Hayden told Flying, for all of the Robinson models, from two-seat piston powered R22 to the turbine powered R66. "Though it's a big part of it, it's not just the size," Hayden explained, going on to say that the ease of installation, weight reduction and greatly enhanced safety features all add to the allure. The Aspen display boasts all the features of a full-fledged digital PFD plus digital AHRS, GPS flight plan display, and the ability to interface with a number of other navigation and safety systems.

Aspen founder and product guru Peter Lyons told Flying that the EFD has been enhanced in a number of ways to make it more robust, a must for helicopter flying. Changes include Level-B software, a vibration isolating mount and high intensity radiated fields (HIRF) testing, something that's more critical for helicopters than fixed-wing aircraft, as helicopters as a type spend an inordinate amount of time around high tension lines and other high-energy sources.

An STC for installation of the EFD has already been earned with Transport Canada, and Hayden told Flying that FAA authorization for that approval is expected within the coming months. He added that a number of other STC programs are under way both in the United States and overseas.