An integrated Evolution angle of attack (AOA) indicator for Aspen Avionics primary and multifunction flight displays was announced April 8 at the Aircraft Electronics Association convention in Dallas. Aspen said that its patent-pending solution seamlessly integrates angle of attack technology directly into its full line of Evolution displays through a software upgrade—no additional hardware is required.
“The FAA is aggressively promoting the use of AOA-based systems to reduce general aviation accidents caused by loss of control,” said Perri Coyne, Aspen director of marketing operations. “We are offering a software-based derived angle of attack function that provides real-time stall margin awareness without hardware, cabling, or aircraft modifications. The aircraft modification consists of a simple software upgrade to the Aspen primary and multifunction flight displays and requires a short calibration flight as part of the return to service.”
Because the Evolution AOA indicator calculates angle of attack from flight envelope data received from the air data computer and attitude heading reference system (AHRS) incorporated in the Evolution 1000 PFD or Evolution 1000 MFD and a certified GPS, it does not require additional hardware, sensors, or external aircraft modifications.
Aspen said the system improves safety by providing real-time flaps-up and flaps-down stall margin awareness, enabling the pilot to visualize the available lift before changing aircraft configuration—especially crucial during a go-around. An intuitive display provides an immediate, clear visual depiction of trend toward stall and stall margin. Angle of attack is displayed prominently on the Aspen PFD or MFD.
“It’s a very different AOA product than what you’ve seen in the industry lately,” said John Uczekaj, Aspen’s president. “We believe very strongly that AOA has a major impact on preventing loss-of-control accidents,” he added, explaining that the company has spent a lot of time looking at current angle of attack products, whether displayed in the panel or on the glareshield. “It’s very hard to integrate those instruments into your normal scan, especially when you’re stressed.”
Uczekaj said he has heard flight instructors say they don’t know how to train pilots to properly interpret angle of attack information. “The people who are buying AOA tend to be more sophisticated and know what AOA is—but some of them have stopped using [AOA indicators] because they’re not intuitive.”
Aspen believes that eliminating sensors will reduce the installation cost, furthering its goal of making angle of attack information readily available. “We are introducing a product that has no real installation [cost] beyond a calibration,” he said.
“I didn’t really understand it until I started using it in everyday flying,” Uczekaj added. “I didn’t understand it from a pilot’s perspective—I understood it intellectually.”
He said this is the first product resulting from Aspen’s partnership with Centro Italiano Ricerche Aerospaziali (CIRA), which operates an aeronautical research facility in Capua, Italy. CIRA was created in 1984 to manage Italy’s aerospace research program. “We have a lot of other ones brewing here. We’re very excited about that relationship,” Uczekaj said.
The company has not announced pricing for its Evolution AOA, which it expects to be available in July 2015.