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July 24, 2012
By Mike Collins
Aspen Avionics announced July 24 that Connected Pilot, the first in what will be a series of Connected Panel products—providing a wireless link between certified avionics in the aircraft panel and iPads or other portable smart electronic devices—has received technical standard order approval from the FAA.
“The STC is considered imminent,” said Brad Hayden, Aspen’s vice president of marketing. Because the supplemental type certificate (STC) approval is so near, the company has begun taking orders for Connected Pilot.
The product includes hardware—a small box, the CG100, that is mounted behind the panel—as well as software and application components. The CG100 contains the operating software, wireless connectivity, and flash memory storage. Connected Pilot lists for $2,499 and may be ordered through any authorized Aspen dealer.
Certification of Connected Pilot presented challenges, Hayden noted. “It’s one thing to extract data and send it from the panel to a handheld device.” But Connected Pilot is based on synchronized, two-way communications between mobile devices and certified avionics. “The FAA was skeptical at first. The burden was on us to demonstrate that the technological challenge was worth the risk.”
Aspen’s technology partners already were working on interfaces, and ForeFlight—which offers a more sophisticated route planning and editing capability, among other functions—was first to interface. “We used that platform as our base platform to demonstrate to the FAA that this made sense,” said John Uczekaj, Aspen’s president and CEO.
Commenting on the user flexibility offered by the Connected Panel platform, Uczekaj said, “For a very affordable price, you can carry multiple applications that offer you different capabilities as a pilot.”
Hilton Software’s WingX Pro7 offers one-tap radio tuning ability; Seattle Avionics and AOPA’s FlyQ also have joined Aspen’s Connected Panel community with enhanced route loading and AOPA Airports, Hayden said, adding that Jeppesen is adding Connected Panel to its Mobile FliteDeck 2.0. “We now have 20 hardware manufacturers, application developers, and software designers using the Connected Panel platform.”
Other Connected Panel partners include AvConnect, Digital Sectional, Bendix/King, and Sporty’s Pilot Shop. Aspen is demonstrating Connected Pilot this week at its EAA AirVenture booth and at the company’s North 40 hospitality tent.
Aspen also announced that the FAA has issued an STC for installation of Aspen’s H-series primary flight displays and multifunction flight displays in Robinson R44 and R44 II helicopters. The STC was issued to Western Avionics in Calgary, Hayden said. “The size of our units, combined with a robust AHARS and the screen resolution, make it a natural choice for these helicopters.”
Uczekaj said the company continues to see double-digit growth year over year. “We continue to grow at a pretty good pace,” he said. Aspen now employs 80 people, and its products are installed in 5,000 aircraft.
Mike Collins has worked for AOPA’s media network since 1994. He holds a private pilot certificate with an instrument rating.
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