AEA Convention an Oasis of Optimism

Everyone's hoping for signs of a turnaround, and last week's Aviation Electronics Association trade show in Dallas looks like it was just the ticket. The prevailing wisdom seemed to be that, while sales of big-ticket new aircraft may be stalled, owners of older airplanes could be having their day. Glass avionics suites finally trickled down from jets to light aircraft with the advent of Avidyne and Garmin integrated systems-but until recently they were essentially confined to new airplanes. The retrofit versions-by economics or by design-were slow in coming. But now they are hitting the market, and buyers are stepping up. No doubt, the mad dash to convert to glass would be all the madder if many pilots' portfolios hadn't taken such a hit. But the news from AEA is bullish, nevertheless. Specifically, the aforementioned Garmin and Avidyne report selling "aggressively" into the aftermarket. Meanwhile, relative newcomer Aspen Avionics reports sales improving steadily last month, with more than 1,000 of its low-cost Evolution glass primary flight display units sold so far. Deliveries of its companion multifunction displays are due to start sometime this summer.