To me value means getting more for the same or less money. With two new products from Aspen and Bendix/King we actually have capabilities that just weren’t available for most personal airplanes before. And the price is what makes them a great value.
For airplane owners who fly VFR only–which is by far the majority–you can now get an Aspen flat glass PFD priced for the way you fly. And Bendix/King has introduced the AeroWave 100 satellite communications transceiver that will keep you wired to the internet and email world in flight.
The Aspen 1000 VFR flat glass PFD is the same size as the company’s other systems so that it fits into the space occupied by the attitude and directional gyros in the panel.
The VFR display uses the same non-spinning electronic gyros to show attitude and slaved heading, along with an electronic air data computer to calculate airspeed and altitude. The system also has Aspen’s internal backup battery that will keep it functioning for at least 30 minutes if ship’s power is lost. With the Aspen you can toss the vacuum pump and still have precise and reliable attitude and heading.
The difference is the VFR unit doesn’t have exactly the same software as the 1000 Pro series so it shows a compass card instead of an HSI, and there aren’t glideslope pointers and some other details IFR pilots need. But the VFR unit costs only $4,995, around half of the IFR system.
The great news is that the Aspen VFR system has the same hardware as the IFR unit so it can be upgraded to IFR capability at anytime by purchasing the IFR qualified software. You can also add Aspen’s synthetic vision to see the terrain ahead and under you. And most all of Aspen’s other options are also available.
What Aspen did is keep all of the TSO qualification and other requirements so the VFR system can be installed in a standard category airplane without charging you for capability you are not likely to want flying VFR. Installing the Aspen unit will be as inexpensive as possible because it fits with essentially no instrument panel modifications.
Satcom systems have been flying in large business jets for several years, but the Bendix/King AeroWave system is sized and priced for just about any size airplane, including piston singles.
The complete AeroWave system weighs less than 15 pounds, and the antenna is only about twice the size of a standard GPS antenna. But the real magic of the AeroWave is the price of $19,999. Any other satcom system I’m familiar with costs more than $100,000 and is too big to fit on typical personal airplanes.
Part of the AeroWave advance is Bendix/King technology, but equally important are new more efficient satellites. Earlier satcom systems require very high gain antennas to communicate with the satellites. Often the antenna needs to be steered to point at the satellite as the airplane moves.
The AeroWave can use a low gain antenna with no moving parts and still deliver high speed data reception so you and your passengers remain in our normal “wired” world for the entire flight.
Bendix/King has not yet announced which satellite network AeroWave will use but did say the fee will be by the hour of connectivity, not by the amount of data received as many other systems do. The company says the data fees will be a fraction of existing satcom systems and, because the fee is based on time not amount of data, the cost will be predictable.
The AeroWave can be connected to a wireless router so all your personal electronic devices work in the airplane. Staying connected will be a huge advantage for passengers, and satcom could also be a critical safety link for pilots in an emergency.
Both the Aspen VFR flat glass and the Bendix/King AeroWave give us new and more capability in our airplanes for a whole lot less money. That’s value.