FAA Removes Aspen Pro MAX PFD Backup Attitude Indicator Requirement


A recent FAA approval will allow aircraft owners installing a single Aspen Avionics Evolution EFD1000 Pro MAX primary flight display (PFD) to remove the previously required backup attitude indicator, the company announced on Thursday. To meet the requirements of the approval, the PFD must be running the latest software version—v2.11—and be outfitted with an extended-duration backup battery. Backup altimeter, airspeed and turn and bank indicators are still required.

“This is a game-changing development for aircraft owners looking for an affordable, full-featured primary flight display while allowing removal of outdated mechanical attitude indicators,” said Scott Smith, Aspen director of sales. “We are cleaning up panels while reducing our customer’s maintenance cost and giving them some extra weight savings as well.”

According to Aspen, currently installed Pro MAX PFDs can be upgraded to the extended duration battery and latest software by authorized Aspen dealers. The EFD1000 Pro MAX offers features including GPS-aided AHRS in the event of pitot static failure, airspeed and altitude tapes with altitude alerter, built-in GPS steering and full electronic HSI with dual bearing pointers. List price for a new Evolution EFD1000 Pro MAX PFD is $9,995.

Kate O'Connor
Kate O’Connor works as AVweb's Editor-in-Chief. She is a private pilot, certificated aircraft dispatcher, and graduate of Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University.

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  1. As a computer engineer, I trust computers as far as I can throw them.

    Not many pilots can keep a plane right-side up with a T&B in the clouds these days.

    Keep your backup AI!

    • As someone who regularly flies with glass, I agree. Not having to maintain a mechanical gyro is nice but electronically driven instrumentation is not foolproof. The small jets I fly have dual AHRS along with a third independent attitude gyro for backup. I have had my share of AHRS and display failures over the years to make me glad I have the third backup.

      • I would still get rid of the mechanical gyro (and vacuum system), but I’d install a secondary standby digital AI whose only purpose is to provide attitude information.

        • Great idea if you can afford it. The electronic backup AI can cost in excess of $30,000 brand new. I know this due to having to replace one in the jet I fly.

    • That was what the turn coordinator is for, an electric backup for a vacuum driven attitude gyro.

      • In reality the pilot workload with just a TC would be through the roof.

        After any overbanking, the amount of effort and time to regain control with a TC would be very stressful for single-pilot operation compared to the sight picture an AI provides, so I never seriously considered it to be a desirable AI backup.

        Conceptually, TC shows a relative value, rate of turn, while AI shows absolute bank.

        You can think of the difference kind of like using an ADF vs. VOR – for most people. that latter is more comfortable, especially after some time off, and it’s unlkely they could correctly follow a procedure navigating with ADF today.

        I’m saying all this as a 6-pack fan, so the above goes doubly so for a glass cockpit pilot. Love to see some videos of pilots reacting to a sudden dark glass cockpit, especially SP.

  2. “previously required backup attitude indicator”? Required by what? Not by 91.205, so perhaps by OPSPEC?

  3. So if the screen itself breaks for for whatever reason, you loose all important instruments at once.
    If you are in IMC while this happens, it is happy go fun time!!

    • It’s important to realize how computers can “break” for even trivial reasons.

      One recurring cause is simply the clock rolling over to a certain value, like the recent 787 51-day (internal network) and 248-day (generator) issues. Note that is a surprisingly-common problem across computer devices.

      No doubt map and procedure database expirations have and will affect avionics operation in surprising ways, especially as devices become obsolete (unsupported.)