At the close of each year, the editors of Flying convene to consider the positive attributes of the best aviation products to emerge in the preceding 12 months. Our annual Editors' Choice Awards are as much about honoring the innovative ideas behind exceptional new products as celebrating the hard work of the people in aviation who create extraordinary things. To be eligible for the award, however, a company cannot merely announce a new product; the recipient must cross the certification finish line and introduce the product to the market — in aviation, sometimes a high bar indeed.

Last year, we upped the ante by introducing a new prize, the Flying Innovation Award, presented to one outstanding winner from among our Editors' Choice recipients as the top overall product of the year. It was a tight competition, but the first-ever Flying Innovation Award trophy ultimately went to Honda Aircraft and the team that created the landmark HondaJet, an airplane that embodies the type of extraordinary thinking we endeavor to acknowledge with this accolade.

This year's list of Editors' Choice Award recipients is no less impressive, with two groundbreaking general aviation airplanes and a number of innovative products making the grade. Now, these victors vie for the Innovation prize, which we'll present at Oshkosh at the annual Flying party on July 23. We'd love to hear your thoughts on which Editors' Choice recipient you think deserves to be crowned the winner. Drop us a note by email or on Facebook to cast your vote.

—Stephen Pope, Editor-in-Chief

Garmin G1000 NXi

Garmin G1000 NXi
Garmin G1000 NXiGarmin

Garmin’s G1000 NXi avionics system isn’t just a step up from the original, it is a quantum leap beyond the G1000 system many pilots have grown up with over the past 14 years. Much faster computer processors and a boost in memory mean G1000 NXi is lightning-fast and can do so much more. We’ve come to appreciate NXi’s geographic map overlay on the HSI after initially wondering if we’d even turn it on, while features such as animated Nexrad graphics and visual approach guidance make life that much easier. Cirrus was the first to introduce the NXi system, in the 2017 Generation 6 SR22. Since then, most manufacturers have followed suit or will add the capability soon. Just as G1000 became a de facto standard for avionics years ago, G1000 NXi is positioned to carry that legacy for years to come.

Lightspeed Zulu 3

Lightspeed Zulu 3
Lightspeed Zulu 3Lightspeed

Lightspeed has introduced some exceptional aviation headsets over the years, but none as good as the Zulu 3. Sound quality is improved, comfort is notably better and durability should be a strong point as well. Lightspeed has succeeded in bringing to the market an active noise-canceling headset with premium features (such as a Kevlar-braided audio cable, Bluetooth capability and FlightLink app compatibility) at a retail price of $850, which is about $250 below top-tier headsets. Sound and comfort improvements come in part from newly designed ear seals that have 20 percent more surface area. We just know they sound and feel great. Lightspeed is so confident in the Zulu 3’s build quality that the company offers an industry-leading seven-year warranty.

ForeFlight Scout

ForeFlight Scout
ForeFlight ScoutForeFlight

ForeFlight’s Scout ADS-B receiver is the type of innovative and affordable product we’re delighted to see embraced by the general aviation market. Scout takes simplicity in design to levels unheard of in aviation by combining a compact unit that’s about the size of a USB thumb drive with the ease of use of the best in new consumer electronics. Simply open up the box, connect Scout to a power source and pair it with your iPad. The unit then automatically provides subscription-free ADS-B weather and traffic information in flight integrated with the ForeFlight Mobile app. A handy suction cup allows you to stick Scout to a window and forget about it. The exceptional inflight weather and information resources integrated within ForeFlight Mobile, such as graphical TFRs, PIREPs, and METARs, work flawlessly with Scout, and the Nexrad weather overlays we’ve seen seem every bit as good as those offered by subscription services. Best of all, the Scout unit, produced for ForeFlight by uAvionix, is priced at only $200, making it affordable to anyone.

Cirrus SF50 Vision Jet

Cirrus SF50 Vision Jet
The Cirrus SF50 Vision JetCirrus Aircraft

To put it succinctly, there has never been an airplane like the Vision Jet from Cirrus Aircraft. From the single Williams turbofan engine mounted atop the fuselage to the computer-stabilized V-tail, the spacious passenger compartment, the huge cabin windows, the full-airframe parachute (a first for a jet) and finally to the cockpit, which is designed to make pilots moving up from a Cirrus SR22 feel right at home, the SF50 Vision defies convention and rewrites the rules for what a game-changing general aviation airplane can achieve. When we flew the Vision for our pilot report last spring, everything we hoped it would be was confirmed, and then some. Cirrus has done a masterful job bringing to the market an airplane that many thought improbable: the world’s first single-engine personal jet.

Mooney M20U Ovation Ultra

Mooney M20U
Mooney M20U Ovation UltraMooney International

Mooney’s M20U Ovation Ultra high-performance single truly confirms that the legendary Kerrville, Texas, manufacturer is back. After flying the Ovation Ultra for our December cover story, we were left in awe by just what a great job the new owners of the company have done, not only with this remarkable airplane, but with the factory in Kerrville as well (they’ve spent $500,000 upgrading the factory lighting alone). The additions to the Ovation Ultra of a pilot-side door, cutting-edge avionics, a gorgeous interior and a long list of smart design improvements add up to a product that can run with the best airplanes in its class, and thanks to its impressive cruise speed, easily outrun them as well.