September 1, 2002
Julie K. Boatman
Microvision, a company established in 1993 that specializes in precision optical scanning systems and related displays, has developed a portable head-up display (HUD) for use in general aviation aircraft.
The Nomad Personal Flight Display System centers a small transparent screen in front of the pilot's dominant eye, enabling electronic flight information system (EFIS) data to be projected directly onto the pilot's retina. The result is that the EFIS display appears to be on the screen, and the pilot is able to view attitude, course, and airspeed information while staying focused outside the cockpit.
Images on your retina? Sounds a little disconcerting, but Microvision has a good track record in the high-tech industry (Boeing, Ericsson, Saab Avionics, and Eurocontrol are just a few of the companies using Microvision systems) producing similar products for use by technicians. Nomad meets safety rules set forth by the International Electronic Committee. Display information comes from software run on a personal digital assistant (currently Microvision is working with PCFlightSystems' EFIS software) that can be stashed behind the pilot's seat. This saves you from dealing with a yoke-mounted system.
We flew with Nomad in a Cessna 172 on a local flight in the Frederick, Maryland, area. After some initial adjustment — it's hard to stop looking at the panel instruments when you've been doing so for 15 years — we found the display sharp and easy to interpret. The screen itself is a little bulky, making us feel at times the need to move to see traffic. Microvision has plans to streamline the setup further, which should reduce this problem.
The headband to which the display is attached adjusts to fit most heads. The combined weight of the headband and the passive headset worn during the tests wasn't bad, but it may get somewhat tiring after a long trip. Again, plans to reduce weight should address this. There was no apparent interference with the pilot's contact lenses; glasses can be worn under the headband as well.
The Nomad package currently retails for about $12,000, which includes the headband, display, Compaq iPaq PDA, GPS, battery charger, cables, and the PCFlightSystems attitude reference module (to provide gyroscopic information for the EFIS software). For those who own a compatible GPS and/or PDA, the cost is less. For more information, contact Microvision, 19910 North Creek Parkway, Bothell, Washington 98011; telephone 425/415-6656; fax 425/415-6603; or visit the Web site ( www.mvis.com).
Cleaning the belly of an airplane is one of the nastiest jobs in aviation. The underside of an airplane collects the most stubborn materials — especially oil and exhaust soot — and requires the most elbow grease and the nastiest chemicals to get the gunk off. Owners often ignore the belly for months — or years. Because the effluvia can be harmful to paint and corrosive to aluminum, it's a good idea to remove it periodically and coat the belly with wax to seal the nasty stuff out and make it easier to clean in the future (see " Putting It Into Practice: Ownership Lessons," August Pilot).
Corrosion Technologies Corporation of Dallas, makers of the CorrosionX anti-corrosion treatment, have created RejeX, a soil barrier that claims to protect aircraft finishes from belly filth and, just as important, make that filth much easier to remove during subsequent washings.
Last fall, after thoroughly cleaning the belly of the Beechcraft Baron that I fly, I followed with an application of RejeX behind the airplane's notoriously oilier right engine and applied an aviation-grade wax behind the left engine. I also put RejeX on the leading edge of the right engine nacelle to test the product's ability to keep bugs from sticking to the airplane. The product looks, feels, and applies just like a liquid wax. RejeX didn't bring out as brilliant a shine as the wax and required a little more work to buff away, but it left the surface slick to the touch. After about 50 hours of flying and six months on the calendar, it was time to pull out the hose and bucket and see the results.
Using diluted CarbonX aircraft cleaner, lots of water, and a few terry-cloth rags, I went to work. It was obvious that the right nacelle leading edge, the one treated with RejeX, cleaned up much easier than the rest of the leading edges — in a couple of swipes of a soapy rag.
As expected, the RejeX-coated underside behind the right engine had become far grimier than that behind the left engine. Always one to put off the worst, I started on the left side where the white belly was still mostly visible. Looks can be deceiving as I repeatedly soaped, scrubbed, and rinsed behind the left engine, eventually getting it clean after about 30 minutes.
After my experience on the waxed left side, I had serious doubts that RejeX would work. From the first swipe of my soapy rag, however, I knew it had held up its end of the deal. Despite being far grimier, the Baron's right side cleaned up much easier than the wax-treated side. The RejeX-treated belly was much brighter and cleaner than the left, which now looked comparably terrible. In fact, I had to do the left side again to make it look as good as the RejeX-treated side.
One RejeX application is claimed to last a minimum of four months even after numerous washings. Our airplane was not washed during the six-month test period. Now that washing the airplane is not such an ordeal, maybe we can test that claim too.
RejeX is available in 16-ounce or 1-gallon containers for $19.95 and $144.95, respectively. The product can be purchased through CorrosionX dealers or online ( www.corrosionx.com/rejex.html). For more information, contact Corrosion Technologies Corporation at 800/638-7361. — Peter A. Bedell
Stenbock & Everson Inc. now offers an online flight planner, FlightPrep, which features interactive control of flight plans, including many of the most popular features found on more expensive flight-planning software.
An active chart matrix allows pilots to manipulate a planned route through the use of rubber-banding (which allows the user to drag a portion of the route to include a new waypoint) or a route editor. Maps include terrain features in addition to geographical and navigational information in a unique, clean presentation. As the program refreshes each page when new information is logged or requested, it runs a little more slowly than one loaded on a host computer. We tested FlightPrep online over a T1 line and found that the pages loaded quickly enough not to be a distraction.
A direct link to DUATS online downloads weather into the flight planner. Users can choose standard aircraft from a list, or edit those aircraft to fit. The program is optimized to run on Internet Explorer on a Windows-based system, yet the program loses only its rubber-banding feature when run on a Netscape browser or a Mac.
Stenbock & Everson actively solicits feedback from users regarding desired features, and the company uses FAA nav data for cost savings. Several subscription levels are available on a month-to-month basis, ranging in price from $7.95 for AOPA members ($13.95 for nonmembers) for a VFR/IFR version with 100 editable aircraft to $33.95 for corporate versions offering custom aircraft and service. For more information, visit the Web site ( www.flightprep.com).
Ellis and Associates CADD/Technical Illustration, of Laguna Hills, California, has a new supplemental type certificate (STC) for the installation of a right-door window for Cessna single-engine airplanes. Originally offered as a factory option, this window in the copilot's door opens, as on later-model Cessnas. It is a desirable feature because it provides improved ventilation while on the ground and can be opened in flight for photography missions.
Before Ellis and Associates obtained the STC, the only option for Cessna owners who wanted the opening window was to buy and retrofit a used window-equipped door from a salvage yard. Cost for the STC is $1,500. According to co-owner Norm Ellis, the cost of the parts required to complete the installation is around $1,000. Labor is estimated at 20 to 25 hours. For information, contact Ellis and Associates CADD/Technical Illustration, 22355 Caminito Tecate, Laguna Hills, California 92653; telephone 949/830-0743; or e-mail ( email@example.com).
Flightcom, located in Portland, Oregon, now offers its Denali active noise reduction headset with a panel power option. It is compatible with 12- or 24-volt direct current aircraft systems. The cost of the headset with the panel power option is $625. For more information, contact Flightcom, 7340 Southwest Durham Road, Portland, Oregon 97224; telephone 800/432-4342 or 503/684-8229; fax 503/620-2943; or visit the Web site ( www.flightcom.net). — Alton K. Marsh
UPS Aviation Technologies has unveiled a new version of the MX20 multifunction display that allows users to display weather information from the Honeywell Bendix/King RDR 2000 digital color radar system. Called the MX20-IO, the new display is also capable of showing traffic targets from both Goodrich Skywatch and Ryan TCAD products. The new model has all the same features as the standard MX20. For more information, contact UPS Aviation Technologies, 2345 Turner Road Southeast, Salem, Oregon 97302; telephone 800/525-6726; fax 503/364-2138; or visit the Web site ( www.upsat.com). — AKM
Teledyne Continental Motors announced the availability of lightweight permanent magnet starters on all 360, 470, 520, and 550 CID engines. The new starters, which save more than seven pounds for each installation, are manufactured by Iskra. The starters come in 12-volt, 12-volt with relay, and 24-volt versions. For more information, contact Teledyne Continental Motors, Post Office Box 90, Mobile, Alabama 36601; telephone 251/438-3411; fax 251/432-7352; or visit the Web site ( www.tcmlink.com).
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. Links to all Web sites referenced in this issue can be found on AOPA Online ( www.aopa.org/pilot/links.shtml).
Safety and Education,
Pilot Training and Certification
The FAA on Feb. 23 issued a special airworthiness information bulletin recommending preflight inspection of Robinson R44 and R44 II main rotors.
The FAA has released an eight-minute video providing aviation medical examiners with guidance on the agency's new obstructive sleep apnea policy, which takes effect March 2.
New legislation in both houses of Congress would allow thousands of pilots to fly without a third class medical and offer new protections for GA pilots.
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