VistaNav Offers a Virtual Window

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With so many Tablet PC and Pocket PC navigators available, where do you even begin? A good place might be to leave the regular Oshkosh product hangars and go out to the flymarket looking for Mercury Computing's VistaNav booth. VistaNav's 3D synthetic vision recreates the view out the front of the airplane, complete with terrain, runways, and highway-in-the-sky (HITS) guidance. This actually isn't new, but newly completed -- in fact, a patent was filed the day of the announcement -- with three new features that help with approaches, emergencies, and collision avoidance. As for the unit's price ... $4,300. If you were expecting something higher, you can always buy more. Of course, this isn't a certified product. ... It simply appears that it may be a highly capable, practical and affordable one that would probably be nice to have. VistaNav's 3D traffic takes the novel approach of creating "threat zones" depicted as areas in the virtual sky where the target aircraft might be. Stay clear of those and you stay clear of the intruder. Their E-glide feature provides a glide path to the "best" airport for an emergency landing, even if it's not the closest, because system takes terrain into account. And, yes, future versions will take winds into account and provide curved glidepaths to bring you down safely. HITS guidance is also available for a growing number of approaches in the U.S. The brains of the system reside in a box containing a WAAS GPS and inertial navigation system. This sits anywhere you want in the plane and communicates to the tablet PC display/control via wireless Bluetooth. The only wires are for power and since everything also has a battery, it serves as a full backup set of flight and navigation instruments.