2013 Flying Editors' Choice Awards

Check out the five innovations that topped our list this year.

Every year, the editors at Flying get together to select a small group of new products that have had an impact on the world of aviation during the previous calendar year. The airplanes that made the cut this time around were unusual choices for us. One of them, the Citation M2, recently received certification. Cessna has built hundreds of CitationJets, the model on which the M2 is based, so the basic airframe is proven. The features that make it new — the Garmin G3000 avionics suite and a great new interior ­— are low-risk propositions as well. The second airplane in our award-winning lineup is the Van's RV-12, a light-sport aircraft with an impressive heritage. Created by Dick VanGrunsven, the founder of the most successful kit airplane maker in history, the RV-12 has been flying in kit form for a couple of years, but in 2013, Van's introduced a factory-built version.

While we recognize a couple of airplanes here, we also celebrate innovation on a much smaller scale. Three of our award-winning products, the new Stratus 2 automatic dependent surveillance-broadcast receiver and AHRS sensor, the David Clark Pro DC-X noise-canceling headset and the Garmin VIRB action cam, will fit and happily coexist in your flight bag and the cockpit of your airplane. So congratulations to the winners of this year's Flying Editors' Choice Awards on advancing innovation by bringing out great new aviation products.

Citation M2
Taking the CitationJet to a New Level

In reworking the CitationJet into the M2, Cessna took an already great model and made it better. The new airplane is more modern, with Garmin G3000 avionics; more comfortable, with a beautifully appointed interior done by Cessna's own design house; substantially faster, with cruise speeds of up to 400 knots; and priced competitively, at around $4 million. The model was intended to help bridge the gap between the entry-level Mustang, which features a suite based on the Garmin G1000 avionics platform, and the CJ1+, which Cessna discontinued earlier last year. The message Mustang buyers gave Cessna was that they loved their little jets but wanted something faster and roomier that still retained the pilot-friendly cockpit of the Mustang. Mission accomplished.

Stratus 2
Repeat for Stratus Team

For the second year in a row, we present an Editors' Choice Award to Appareo, ForeFlight and Sporty's for a product called "Stratus." This year, the hardware goes to the Stratus 2, the latest update. When we flew Stratus last year, we liked it but wanted more features. The team behind the receiver listened and created Stratus 2, an automatic dependent surveillance-broadcast receiver with a highly accurate WAAS sensor that now adds a remarkably accurate AHRS. The AHRS information is displayed on a separate app, provided free by Appareo, that looks like a primary flight display but is for advisory or emergency use only. As with Stratus, the follow-on product is the result of collaboration among Appareo (the hardware manufacturer), ForeFlight (which brilliantly integrates the ADS-B data into its leading app) and Sporty's (which helped conceive, manage and market Status 2).

David Clark DC Pro-X Headset
Compact ANR Model Is a Hit

When David Clark rolled out its latest headset, the compact DC Pro-X, it looked like a departure from its traditional product lineup. But it turns out the DC Pro-X is in every way a David Clark headset — rugged, reliable and of exceptional quality; it's just designed for different kinds of missions. Because it's smaller with on-ear instead of over-the-ear cups, the DC Pro-X can't provide the kind of passive noise attenuation as other, larger David Clark models, but thanks to smart design and excellent automatic noise reduction, it does provide noise cancellation that is very good for such a lightweight and comfortable headset, and it does it at a cost that's very attractive. And because it's a TSO'd headset, it can be used in the cockpit of turbine aircraft with operators that require one. While the DC Pro-X is great in jets, it's adequate for many piston or turboprop missions too — when pilots want lightweight but good noise cancellation.

Garmin VIRB
Action Cam for High Fliers

It's not often that we award a Flying Editors' Choice Award to a product we learned about in the fourth quarter of the year, but this year, we make an exception for the Garmin VIRB, an action cam that's tailor-made for aviation. The VIRB hit stores in October and quickly attracted customers, with everyone from big chain retailers to aviation catalog outlets placing large orders. The reason was simple. The VIRB beat the industry-leading GoPro in just about every regard, with more attractive design, much better battery life, easier set up, and remote-control and menu operation, while offering the same kind of stunning high-definition video as the competition. Look for a full report on the VIRB soon. To top it off, Garmin had the foresight to provide great remote-control capability in its new D2 aviation watch, which can control up to 10 remote VIRB cameras at once.

Van's RV-12
Certified LSA Shines

This Flying Editors' Choice award goes to the RV-12, an airplane that has been around for a while but was delivered in completed form for the first time in 2013. With the RV-12, Van's Aircraft, known for its fast and slippery two-seaters and a popular four-place low-winger (the RV-10), created a light-sport aircraft that hit a sweet spot in the market while earning high marks from owners/builders. The only problem was that many buyers wanted one but didn't have the time to build it, so Van's decided to produce an S-LSA version of the airplane that pilots could simply buy and fly. In a market where most LSAs are slow sellers, Van's hit the mark with the RV-12, delivering a model true to the company's kit-built DNA while bridging the gap between the homebuilt and certified world.

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