Pilot Products

June 1, 1997

BFGoodrich's Skywatch

The technology trickle-down from airliners to general aviation aircraft is very slow, but its eventual arrival is welcome. Such is the case with BFGoodrich Avionics Systems' Skywatch traffic advisory system.

Like the $200,000 traffic alert and collision avoidance systems (TCAS) used in today's airliners, Skywatch displays as many as 30 transponder-equipped aircraft within 6 miles of your aircraft's position. The simple and logical symbology is just like that used in airliners, which makes using the unit a simple affair.

By interrogating the transponders of nearby "intruder" aircraft, Skywatch displays traffic within 2 or 6 miles of your position, depending on the mode selected. Intruders are indicated relative to your position in the center by an open diamond if they are more than 30 seconds away. If the intruder aircraft has an altitude-reporting transponder, its altitude (relative to your altitude) will be displayed next to the icon with a + or a - symbol. For example, traffic shown with a +04 means that the intruder is 400 feet above your altitude. If the intruder is climbing or descending at 500 feet per minute or greater, a vertical-trend arrow will appear next to the icon indicating a climb or descent.

Once the intruder penetrates the 30-second veil around your aircraft (generally 2 miles or less) and is within 800 feet of your altitude, the open diamond becomes a closed circle and is now termed a traffic advisory. These ranges vary, depending upon whether your aircraft is equipped with a radar altimeter. A range control allows the user to step down to a 2-mile view for more accurate ranging. The major operational difference separating Skywatch from the high-buck TCAS II found in airliners is that Skywatch does not suggest a resolution plan to maneuver you away from the traffic.

If you recognize the unit's display in the photograph, it's because it is the same cathode-ray tube used by the WX-1000 Stormscope. If the pilot is viewing the Stormscope information and a traffic conflict arises, Skywatch will take priority and occupy the display. A manual override switch can toggle the display back to the Stormscope if desired.

The good news regarding the shared-display setup is that owners of the WX-1000 can take $5,000 off the price of Skywatch and not have to butcher a hole in the panel. The bad news is that they'll still have to cough up $19,980 for the remote-mounted transmitter receiver computer and the antenna. Also, the unit weighs about 20 pounds installed. The cost and weight will probably keep many light single owners out of the game, but heavy single, twin, and business jet operators will perhaps more easily buy into the capabilities Skywatch has to offer. For more information, contact BFGoodrich Aerospace Avionics Systems, 5353 52nd Street S.E., Grand Rapids, Michigan 49588; telephone 616/949-6600. — Peter A. Bedell

Stealth autopilot

S-Tec Corporation has introduced its System 20 and System 30 autopilots, with controls that are completely contained within the turn coordinator. Kitbuilders and owners of airplanes with little panel space will find this clever unit to be a simple way to shoehorn a thoroughly capable autopilot into a panel already stuffed with IFR gear.

The S-Tec System 20/30 are rate-based autopilots, meaning that they operate off the rate-of-turn information provided by the turn coordinator. Rate-based autopilots are generally smoother than attitude gyro-based autopilots, and they'll continue to work if the vacuum pump quits. All of the annunciators and controls are located within the confines of the turn coordinator in the System 20, which provides roll stabilization, turn command, heading hold and preselect, and nav tracking ability.

The System 30, a two-axis autopilot, adds altitude hold to the System 20. It uses a remote-mounted pitch computer and requires an on/off switch that can be located on the yoke. Out-of-trim annunciators are used in lieu of an automatic trim function. This requires the pilot to manually trim the aircraft for best efficiency.

The System 30 Alt is a stand-alone system in case you want an altitude-hold-only autopilot or have an existing single-axis (roll) autopilot that you'd like to upgrade to a two-axis.

S-Tec's System 20 lists for $4,295 and weighs about 5 pounds. The System 30 costs $6,795 and weighs 9 pounds, while the stand-alone System 30 Alt lists for $3,295 and weighs 4 pounds. For more information, contact S-Tec Corporation, One S-Tec Way, Municipal Airport, Mineral Wells, Texas 76067-9236; telephone 800/USA-STEC; ( www.s-tec.com). — PAB

II Morrow Apollo 360 Map

Are you succumbing to the pressure to buy a GPS moving map, only to be dissuaded by the cost of the products and/or the lack of space in your airplane's panel? II Morrow's Apollo 360 Map may prove to be your answer to the high-cost panel-mount GPS/moving map displays.

I recently took the opportunity to fly with a 360 Map in a 1966 Mooney, an airplane with notoriously little panel space. The owner did not have the room (or the money) for a standard panel-mount GPS and a separate map, so he opted for the 360 Map with the optional built-in GPS receiver. The unit fits into a standard 3-inch instrument hole and combines a six-channel GPS receiver with the 360's adequate mapping capabilities.

Several updates were made to the 360 last year to improve the unit's display. A new high-contrast black-and-white LCD is backlit for better readability and does not appear washed out in direct sunlight or at wide viewing angles, a complaint levied at earlier versions of the 360. Larger numbers also increase the unit's readability.

The unit displays the outer boundaries of special-use airspace to keep you away from prohibited and restricted areas, as well as outer boundaries of Class B and C airspace. For inner boundaries, chart consultation is still required. The map can be oriented to depict north up or track up and can be decluttered for use in dense areas. The database contains the basics: airports, VORs, NDBs, en route intersections, and user-defined waypoints.

The 360 Map is not trying to emulate high-dollar GPSs; it is strictly a VFR box. If this is your first GPS or you are replacing a loran unit, you'll find the Apollo 360 Map a vast improvement over past navigation boxes. And with a price of $1,695 for the map display and $2,490 for one with a built-in receiver, it won't break the bank of the average airplane owner. For more information, contact II Morrow, Inc., 2345 Turner Road Southeast, Salem, Oregon 97302; telephone 800/525-6726. — PAB

Briefly Noted

II Morrow introduced its Apollo GX55 panel-mount GPS/moving map at Sun 'n Fun in April. The GX55 has a high-resolution display that is sunlight readable and can be viewed at wide angles, says the company. Perhaps the most attractive feature of the GX55 is that it's a slide-in replacement for an existing Apollo loran or FlyBuddy GPS because the pins and trays are compatible. Even the GX55's GPS antenna is of the same footprint as that of the top-mounted loran antenna mount to minimize the installation hassle. The GX55 has an eight-channel parallel GPS receiver and a full database including public airports, VORs, NDBs, intersections, and special-use airspace. All can be depicted on the moving map, which can be decluttered by using so-called Smart Keys located underneath the display. A user-replaceable data card is located in the front of the unit for easy updates. The GX55 is IFR certifiable for en route and terminal use (not for approaches) and lists for $3,495. For more information, contact II Morrow at 800/525-6726. — PAB

Sporty's Pilot Shop recently introduced its JD-100 handheld civilian and military air band receiver. Ideal for tuning in the airshow frequency, ATIS, or just simply "deck flying" in your backyard, the JD-100 offers up a low-cost alternative to a handheld transceiver. Features include a 20-frequency memory, frequency priority, earphone mini jack, and many optional items. It is powered by four AA batteries. List price is $150. To order, call Sporty's at 800/SPORTYS. — PAB

King Schools has introduced Navigation from A to Z , the latest in the Take-Off Video series. The video takes the viewer through the basics of navigation from dead reckoning and pilotage through NDBs, VORs, loran, GPS, and complex flight management systems like those found in airliners. The 110-minute video explains the benefits, limitations, and traps of each navigation system and intends to allow the viewer to grasp onto the rapidly moving technology in the GPS arena. Navigation from A to Z costs $29 and is available by calling 800/854-1001. — PAB

Engine Components Inc., of San Antonio, Texas, has received parts manufacturer approval from the FAA to manufacture and sell replacement crankshafts for 360-series Lycoming engines. The cranks are direct replacements for either fixed- or variable-pitch propeller applications. According to ECI, the new crankshaft is plated with a special coating that prevents corrosion (like that listed in Lycoming service bulletin 505) from occurring, said Jimmy Tubbs, vice president of engineering at ECI. For more information, contact ECI at 800/ECI-2FLY. — PAB

Quick Reference Foldouts by Cavok International offer on one piece of paper all you need to know for that flight review. For $8.95, you get a sheet folded like a navigation chart containing need-to-know information about weather, flight planning, communications, navigation, airports, terminal operations, and regulations. Other Qrefs on additional topics such as weather are in preparation. Cavok can be found at Jeppesen dealers, on the Web ( www.cavokintl.com), or you may leave a voice mail message at 888/228-6565. — Alton K. Marsh

Do you want to take the mystery out of landings at unfamiliar airports? Paulo Santos has developed a Web site ( www.airnav.com) containing detailed information — right down to the condition of the asphalt or grass runway — for public and private airports. In addition, there is information on navaids and fixes. There is also a list of recent changes to airport information. Finally, there is a fuel stop planner. Provide the departure airport and destination and up comes a list of airports in between that meet your fuel reserve preferences. Santos said he maintains the database as a hobby. — AKM


Unless otherwise stated, products listed herein have not been evaluated by AOPA Pilot editors. AOPA assumes no responsibility for products or services listed or for claims or actions by manufacturers or vendors. However, members unable to get satisfaction regarding products listed should advise AOPA. To submit products for evaluation, contact: New Products Editor, AOPA Pilot, 421 Aviation Way, Frederick, Maryland 21701; telephone 301/695-2350.