February 1, 2007
Julie K. Boatman
Aircraft owners and chief pilots of flight departments and flight schools want to spend their time flying airplanes instead of sitting in front of smudged and often-illegible flight records in the attempt to maintain pilot currency records, as well as those of maintenance components and service-bulletin and airworthiness-directive compliance. Now they can abandon their pencils in favor of a nifty solution called TimeTrac from P2 Aviation Technology in Eden Prairie, Minnesota.
P2 has obtained a supplemental type certificate for the TimeTrac system for installation in more than 700 airplane types. TimeTrac consists of two parts — a small (1.15 by 4.30 by 2.4 inches) computer that receives and records data from GPS and loran units, and powerful easy-to-use TimeTrac software. Airport identifiers for the takeoff and landing, aircraft power up, takeoff, landing and power down of each and every flight are automatically recorded. Data are then downloaded via serial port into a laptop. Computer memory is sufficient to save approximately 2,700 events, so downloading can be scheduled for convenience.
The software determines flight legs and then applies the times to the applicable mechanical component, pilot's flight record, and maintenance-schedule files for each airplane. In addition to the 8,000-plus airports that are contained in the database, options permit the addition of custom airports such as lakes or private landing strips. TimeTrac also permits the creation of custom reports. This product should streamline the workflow of companies maintaining computer-based records. TimeTrac was chosen for installation on the 2005 AOPA Sweepstakes Commander. — Steven W. Ells Price: $2,495 Contact: 888/921-8359; www.p2inc.com
The latest program from Hilton Software is WingX 2.0, an update of the company's flight-planning and in-flight calculation software for personal digital assistants (see " Pilot Products," July 2005 Pilot). The software features many new improvements. These include expanded weight-and-balance functions, with more than 480 predefined makes and models (you should use your airplane's pilot's operating handbook and specific weight-and-balance information for preflight) and a graphical envelope display; downloadable textual weather and radar imagery; airport/facility directory information and NACO approach charts (updated according to the government's cycles); and moving-map-style airport diagrams. The program also incorporates "SmartTaxi" technology to notify pilots of potential runway incursions, and a "Dynamic Flight Navigator" that steps the pilot through each flight segment. There's also a new multipage E6B calculator and a function to track important pilot currency dates. Grounded by weather — or stuck in an airline hub? The Premier version includes the ability to download aviation-related podcasts, as well as additional weather products and weight and balance features. Price: $79 for Pro version; $129 for the Premier version; subscription charges for various databases and podcasts vary but run between $39 and $99 annually. Contact: 866/429-4649; www.hiltonsoftware.com
With a new aircraft (and certain popular used models), it's relatively easy (although it can be expensive) to obtain service manuals and parts catalogs through the aircraft manufacturer. But with most used or classic aircraft, an excellent source is Essco Aircraft. The Ohio-based company keeps a large inventory of service manuals, parts catalogs, pilot's operating handbooks, and other aircraft documents in its files, and offers reprints of them for a reasonable cost.
We obtained a parts catalog from Essco in preparation for AOPA's 2007 Catch-A-Cardinal sweepstakes project (see " Catch-A-Cardinal Sweepstakes: A Family Project," page 93). The reprinted catalog retails for $38 and comes printed and bound in a manner that allows it to lie flat for reference during maintenance work or research. Other aircraft of greater vintage and broader range (from Aero Commanders to Varga Kachinas) are represented in Essco's comprehensive online listings. Price: varies by publication — $8 to $40 Contact: 877/318-1555; www.esscoaircraft.com
Seal-A-Plane, from Aircraft Door Seals, promises to protect and seal aircraft paint from damage caused by sun, exhaust corrosion, bugs, and other environments and substances, and to remove exhaust stains. The contents of the 16-ounce bottle can be used on most aircraft surfaces except leather and vinyl, and are applied to a clean, dry surface and buffed out to a shine. Price: $24.95 Contact: 405/470-3636; www.aircraftdoorseals.com
The Little Pilot Logbook, a keepsake journal designed by AOPA member Asavn Gupte, is an 8.75-by-5.75-inch spiral-bound book with flight-log pages. The logbook features places to record stories and display photos. Price: $24.95 Contact: www.babynebula.com
Unless otherwise stated, products listed 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.
Safety and Education,
The silence on the approach control frequency is broken as the controller speaks your N number and advises, “Traffic, two o’clock, westbound, type and altitude unknown.”
The FAA announces completion of the ADS-B ground radio network, but AOPA says there's a lot more to do before there are significant benefits for general aviation pilots.
Google buys Titan Aerospace, builder of high altitude solar-powered unmanned aerial systems.
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