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March 13, 2014
By Thomas B Haines
Anxious to convince VFR pilots to upgrade their legacy aircraft, Aspen Avionics introduced a new VFR primary flight display at the Aircraft Electronics Association convention. The new Evolution 1000 VFR PFD is a stripped-down version of the company’s popular Evolution 1000 Pro PFD. Focusing on features important to VFR pilots lowers the price from nearly $10,000 for the Pro model to $4,995 for the VFR package. The price for the certified system is similar to the glass cockpit systems offered by those serving the Experimental market.
The top half of the Evolution 1000 VFR features a familiar attitude indicator display with airspeed and altitude tapes as well as digital altitude readout and presentations of indicated, ground, and true airspeeds, along with temperature and wind direction and speed.
Instead of the horizontal situation indicator (HSI) presentation preferred by IFR pilots on the bottom, the VFR model features a basic course deviation indicator with heading bug and flight plan waypoint depictions. The CDI also includes digital course and heading presentations.
According to Aspen President and CEO John Uczekaj, the low price point of the VFR PFD makes it easy for VFR pilots to increase the life of their older airplanes, while increasing the reliability and safety thanks to the solid-state displays and 30-minute emergency back-up battery. As with other Evolution displays, the VFR model is designed to fit into the same panel holes as a conventional attitude indicator and directional gyro. The system interfaces with most existing aircraft systems, including older panel-mount GPSs. The display supports interfaces with hazard systems, such as traffic systems and satellite datalink weather. It is also designed to play with Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast (ADS-B) In and Out products to allow for the display of FIS-B and TIS-B weather and traffic delivered to ADS-B-equipped aircraft.
With the installation of the Evolution 1000 VFR, the owner can elect to remove all other mechanical instruments, except the attitude indicator.
A VFR pilot wanting to upgrade to an IFR system can do so with just a software upgrade for $4,690, making the system into an Evolution 1000 Pro.
The new panel allows a pilot “an incremental path to extend the life of your aircraft,” according to Uczekaj. “Every pilot has a different view of how his panel should be configured. We allow for that flexibility.”
AOPA Editor in Chief Tom Haines joined AOPA in 1988. He owns and flies a Beechcraft A36 Bonanza. Since soloing at 16 and earning a private pilot certificate at 17, he has flown more than 100 models of general aviation airplanes.
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