Here's a roundup of several 1990s general aviation innovations that go to show that what looks good in theory does not always hold up in reality.
Nothing identifies a member of a certain group like his use of jargon. And, in aviation, it's fluency in the aviationspeak of acronyms, initialisms, and abbreviations that separates the wheat from the chaff: You know the lingo, you're in the gang.
The use of acronyms - the most universally accepted term for abbreviations written as the initial letter or letters of words - is relatively new. The word acronym first appeared in the Oxford English Dictionary as late as 1943. Aha, 1943. Yes, acronyms to identify organizations, concepts, and plans began appearing during the World War II era, when the military and Franklin D. Roosevelt began coming up with many of the commonly used acronyms or initialisms used today: "Loran," or "long-range navigation," is an acronym and "FBI" is an initialism (you say "F-B-I" not "FEE'-bee").
In aviation, especially aviation technology, acronyms and initialisms are the language of those in the know. Here's a guide to technically savvy pilotspeak. If it's an acronym, the definition is followed by (A) and the pronunciation; an initialism is followed by (I). We want you to sound like a technology-lingo pro.
AHRS: air data attitude heading reference system (A - AH'-da-harz)
ADC: air data computer (I)
ADDS: Aviation Digital Data Service (I)
ADIZ: Air Defense Identification Zone (A - AY'-diz)
ADS-B: automatic dependent surveillance-broadcast (I)
AFSS: automated flight service station (I)
AI: attitude indicator (I)
airmet: airmen's meteorological information (A - EHR'-met)
ALS: approach light system (I)
ANR: active noise reduction (I)
APU: auxiliary power unit (I)
ARSR: air route surveillance radar (I)
ARTCC: air route traffic control center (I)
ARTS: automated radar terminal system (I)
ASDE: airport surface detection equipment (I)
ASOS: automated surface observation system (A - AY'-saws)
ASR: airport surveillance radar (I)
ATIS: automatic terminal information service (A - AY'-tis)
AWOS: automated weather observation system (A - AY'-waws)
CAS: collision avoidance system (I)
CHT: cylinder head temperature (I)
CFIT: controlled flight into terrain (A - SEE'-fit)
CTAF: common traffic advisory frequency (A - SEE'-taf)
DUATS: Direct User Access Terminal system (A - DOO'-ahts)
ECDI: electronic course deviation indicator (I)
EFAS: En route Flight Advisory Service - everyone calls it "Flight Watch"
EFIS: electronic flight information system (A - EE'-fis)
EGPWS: enhanced ground proximity warning system (I)
ELT: emergency locator transmitter (I)
EPNdB: effective perceived noise in decibels (I)
ETOPS: extended-range twin operations (A - EE'-tahps)
EVS: enhanced vision system (I)
FADEC: full authority digital engine control (A - FAY'-dek)
FIS: flight information service (I)
FMS: flight management system (I)
GPS: Global Positioning System (I)
HITS: highway in the sky (A)
HIWAS: hazardous in-flight weather advisory service (A - HY'-wahs)
IHAS: integrated hazard avoidance system (A - EYE''-has)
LLWAS: low-level wind shear alert system (I)
loran: long-range navigation (A - lor-AN')
METAR: aviation routine meteorological report (A - MEE'-tar)
MFD: multifunction display (I)
Mode C: altitude-reporting mode of secondary radar
Mode S: Mode Select; discrete addressable secondary radar system with datalink (A)
nexrad: next-generation weather radar (A - NEKS'-rad)
PAPI: precision approach path indicator (A - PA'-pee)
PCATD: personal computer-based aviation training device (I)
PDA: personal digital assistant (I)
PFD: primary flight display (I)
RNP: required navigational performance (I)
SATS: Small Aircraft Transportation System (A - SATS')
sigmet: significant meteorological information (A - SIG'-met)
SUA: special-use airspace (I)
TAA: technically advanced aircraft (I)
TAWS: terrain awareness warning system (A - TAWZ')
TCAD: traffic alert and collision avoidance device (A - TEE'-kad)
TCAS: traffic alert and collision avoidance system (A - TEE'-kas)
TFR: temporary flight restriction (I)
TIS: traffic information service (A - TIS')
tracon: terminal radar approach control (A - TRAY'-kahn)
TKS: Tecalemit, Kilfrost, and Sheepbridge Stokes (brand of icing-protection system) (I)
VASI: visual approach slope indicator (A - VAS'-ee)
VLJ: very light jet (I)
VNAV: vertical navigation (A - VEE'-nav)
WAAS: Wide Area Augmentation System (A - WAHS')- Julie Summers Walker, Managing Editor
Some general aviation product technologies, manufacturers, and concepts are gone. But where did they go? And why did they vanish? Let's take a look.
Seven years ago, Trimble Navigation discontinued its general aviation product line. Trimble was best known for its loran and GPS receivers and generally forward-thinking approach to products. Today the company is alive and well, providing GPS, laser, optical, and inertial technology services - to name a few - to a commercial market spanning from the military and defense sector to mining and agricultural operations.
You cannot say Trimble without thinking of Terra. Its lightweight, compact avionics radios were a decisive factor in equipping the center panel of the 1994 AOPA sweepstakes airplane - AOPA's Better Than New (Cessna) 172. AOPA was not the only one to see the value of Terra's ingenuity. In mid-1996, Trimble acquired Terra Corp. lock, stock, and barrel. But the Terra products went away with the rest of the Trimble aviation products.
A company that spearheaded moving maps in general aviation cockpit panels, Eventide - the manufacturer of the Eventide/Argus 5000/CE and 7000/CE - stepped out of the avionics market to focus its energy on the commercial audio/communications side.
Marine and aviation navigation share common desires, such as this one: to simplify chores inside their respective cockpits. Not a surprise then that in 1970 the son of a commercial fisherman founded Northstar. After introducing loran navigators for marine use, the company also entered the general aviation market and once absolutely dominated the panel-mount loran market. Northstar's approach-certificated M3 GPS held promise to make GPS approaches a cinch. In the end, the sea persevered and the company returned to its original charter.
GPS, here we come! 1994 was a good year. Why? The FAA decided to scrap the microwave landing system. This came as a welcome confirmation that AOPA had been effective in lobbying the government to bury this expensive dinosaur and support maturation of affordable, effective, and reliable navigation in the form of GPS.
From one-way gosport speaking tubes used by instructors in the early days of naval aviation to two-way built-in speaking tube "telephones," general aviation cockpits finally saw electronic intercoms make their debut in the 1970s. The intercom business boomed in the early 1980s, and offered many features, including battery-powered portable intercoms. Renters loved them as they moved from one aircraft to another. But aircraft owners were hip to panel-mount devices. Today, most aircraft are outfitted with headset outlets near each passenger seat and connected to the panel-mount intercom. No more untangling numerous wires connected to a box dangling somewhere in the cabin.- MAS
A decade ago, general aviation technology's advancement was like a train that could not be stopped. So what was all the rage in the 1990s?
Visit AOPA Online for additional information.