Flight Tracking, Text Messaging Offered

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Glass panels have always been good at showing pilots what lay ahead but a new system created by Avidyne shows people on the ground what's going on with planes in the air. FlightCenter, available on Avidyne's Web site, allows anyone with the correct password to track any airplane equipped with the Multilink option on the Entegra or FlightMax 500 or 5000 series multifunction displays. The feature also permits two-way text messaging between the aircraft and the ground. "Flight schools just love it because now they know where all their planes are," said Avidyne spokesman Mark Sandeen. "And if there's a thunderstorm in the area they can call them all back in," he said. There's a one-time subscription fee of $99 and small user fees for accessing the system. The onboard equipment sends and receives signals via satellite through an operations center which people on the ground access through the Internet. Sandeen said the system adds another measure of safety and convenience. "FlightCenter offers fleet operators, aircraft owners, business associates and family members a convenient and affordable way to monitor an aircraft's position progress and to deliver information to the pilot during a flight."