Avidyne Offers Text Messaging And Datalink Weather
Avidyne's MLX770 two-way datalink transceiver will by year-end allow general aviation pilots to send and receive SMS text messages directly to mobile phones directly through their cockpits' Avidyne Entegra EX500/EX5000-series multifunction displays. The service will come at a cost of somewhere between $1 and $2 per message as a result of their use of Iridium Satellite bandwidth, and outgoing messages will be limited to 32 characters entered via the control knob. While recent reports of a fatal train collision in California note that one of the conductors involved in the accident sent a text message less than half a minute before impact, Avidyne hopes that pilots "will use discretion and good judgment" when sending or acknowledging messages. The messages are always displayed as low-priority cyan and so are programmed to be outshined by yellow traffic or red terrain alerts. The system also provides the two-way datalink to Iridium satellites and so can provide weather data beyond the range of XM or Sirius networks.
Pricing for the MLX770 two-way datalink transceiver and antenna starts at about $12,000, boxed. You'll then have to pay for installation plus a $70-$120 per month service fee (based on 10 hours of monthly flight time).