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With its IFD-series navigators gaining some market ground, Avidyne announced at Sun 'n Fun Tuesday several enhancements to the product line that expand capability and convenience for users, according to Avidyne CEO Dan Schwinn. Schwinn said Avidyne is making synthetic vision available for its entire line of IFR navigators.

The synvision features a unique in-trail or exocentric view of the host aircraft—sort of a real-time bird's-eye view—in addition to a view that mimics what the pilot would see out the window. To execute its version of synthetic vision, Avidyne developed what it calls an integrated attitude reference system (ARS) that tells the navigator its relative position in space. In the IFD550/545 navigators, this will allow pilots to toggle between synthetic vision off and a traditional blue-over-brown display as well as an overlay of horizontal and vertical deviation indicators and a flight path marker, to name some of the new system's features. The ARS will be available only for new IFD series navigators, while basic synthetic vision will be a software upgrade for products already in the field. The software is expected to be available later this year, as will the new navigators featuring the ARS technology.

For its expanding connectivity products, Avidyne also introduced a unique iPad-based app product called the IFD100. Communicating wirelessly with a panel-mount IFD4- or IFD5-series, the IFD100 app repeats the screen display of the panel mount on the tablet, including all of the knob and touchscreen functionality. Schwinn said for apps capable of it, the IFD100 can also work in split-screen mode. The IFD100 app allows pilots to create a flight plan at home, as they would on any flight plan app, and then synchronize with the panel mount before departure. The IFD100 app will be available later in the year, along with the company's release of the 10.2 software upgrade that will enable synthetic vision.


Avidyne showed up at Sun n' Fun 2016 with a handful of new products and enhancements to its IFD-series navigators. This included synthetic vision, the IFD550 navigator, and an iPad app that wirelessly connects the IFD products for redundant display. In this video, Aviation Consumer magazine editor Larry Anglisano takes a look at the products with Avidyne's Tom Harper.

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Piper Aircraft has a chock-full exhibit this year at Sun 'n Fun, in Lakeland, Florida, showcasing their new flagship model, the M600, for the first time. The $2.85-million airplane features a new clean-sheet-design wing and Garmin G3000 touchscreen avionics. It's powered by a Pratt & Whitney PT6A-42A 600-shp engine, and cruises at up to 274 knots. But according to Piper CEO Simon Caldecott, the M6 debut is just the icing on the cake for the company: "We have quite a bit of good news," he said. The company also has landed a deal with the University of North Dakota to provide more than 100 airplanes for their flight-training program, including both Archer TX and Seminoles. All the airplanes will be equipped with Garmin G1000 avionics, with deliveries to start in the fourth quarter.

The M600 is on track to start deliveries in the third quarter of this year, Caldecott said, and he expects the airplane will deliver better-than-expected performance. "We have three aircraft in flight test," he said. "Our range goal was 1200 nm, we will deliver 1441 nm. Our cruise-speed goal was 260 knots, and we have demonstrated 274 knots." Caldecott also said the company has reduced its prices on several models — the M500 is now available for $1.99 million, with an upgraded cabin as standard, and an optional five-blade Hartzell prop; the Matrix price has dropped by $40,000 to $899,000; and the Seneca 5 is reduced $50,000 to a base price of $979,000. An M500 with the five-blade prop is on display at the Piper exhibit at Sun 'n Fun, along with an M350, a Seneca Twin and an Archer.

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All new Skyhawk 172 airplanes now will be delivered with an angle-of-attack indicator as standard equipment, Cessna announced at Sun 'n Fun today. The system, by Safe Flight, also will be available as an option on the Skylane 182 and the Turbo Stationaire 206. The dash-mounted system provides trend and AoA information during all phases of flight, with both visual and audio data. Cessna said the system is the only supplemental AoA device available that utilizes leading-edge lift information to measure angle of attack. Safe Flight has been manufacturing primary stall-warning and AoA systems for nearly 70 years.

The NTSB in January cited loss-of-control accidents in its annual list of most-wanted safety improvements for general aviation. Angle-of-attack indicators were suggested by the Safety Board as one means of mitigating that accident rate. Other measures include taking advantage of training opportunities and practicing "vigilant situational awareness," the board said.


Sonex is back at Sun 'n Fun this year, and they brought along their latest project, the B-Model kit for Sonex and Waiex designs. The B-Models offer a larger cabin space, created by straightening the forward sides of the fuselage and moving the seats back. A center Y-stick offers dual controls while making it easier to get in and out of the cockpit. Dual throttles are standard in the new models. Company president John Monnett also announced a reduced price for the SubSonex personal jet, with a quick-build kit starting at $42,000. "Interest is strong, especially among our current builders, looking for their next project," said Monnett. He added that the company is glad to be back at Sun 'n Fun for the second year in a row, after skipping it for about nine years.

"We had a tremendous response last year, and we're really pleased with the way the show is being managed," Monnett said. The new B-models will completely replace the original Sonex and Waiex in the company product line, he added. The company will continue to supply sub-kits for builders who already have projects in the works, and plans for the originals will be available for those who want to build from scratch. The two new B-Model kits are available at an introductory show price of $23,000, with a quick-build upgrade available for $7,900. A Waiex Model B is on display at the company's booth all week. Also, the Sub-Sonex airshow that debuted last year will be back this week, Monnett said.

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At Sun 'n Fun 2016, Dynon continued to push into the world of non-certified avionics with its Skyview SE, a less expensive version of its popular Skyview EFIS system. For Kitplanes magazine, Paul Bertorelli prepared this video report.


Retirement means different things to different people, and to Jeanne and Dave Allen it means rebuilding vintage biplanes and keeping the spirit of barnstorming alive. They showed us their beautiful Waco at Sun 'n Fun.

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Daily news comes fast and furious in the aviation world, but some stories deserve a second chance to reach your eyeballs. Below are stories you may have missed recently.

The rules that determine how airplanes are certified are changing. Tom Peghiny, president of Flight Design USA, talks with AVweb's Mary Grady about the impact.


At Sun 'n Fun 2016, Garmin introduced a new portable GPS called the area 660. Here's AVweb's first look at the new product, which will be on display at the show.


At Sun 'n Fun 2016, Just Aircraft is showing off its new Titan-powered SuperSTOL XL. Harrison Smith took AVweb's Paul Bertorelli for a half-day demo flight in the new airplane, and here's AVweb's video report.


At Sun 'n Fun 2016, ForeFlight is introducing some new features for its popular iOS application. Here's a review of what's new.


The Commemorative Air Force is at Sun 'n Fun with one of airplanes it's been flying the longest. The B-17 Texas Raiders is a must for warbird buffs who want to experience the sights, sounds, and smells of a true-to-life war machine.

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When I was writing a news brief about Garmin's new experimental-only G5 self-contained gyro last week, I was thinking, boy, how cool would it be to find a way to stick this in the panel of a certified airplane? When I was shooting this video of Dynon's new Skyview SE system, I thought the same thing. This could go into the panel of a Skyhawk or Cherokee at a fraction of the cost of a TSO'd system and provide fabulous capability.

Maybe I'm about to get my wish. Just past noon on Tuesday, a press release pixeled into my inbox about a "major" announcement to be made by EAA, Dynon and the FAA. The press release is vague and says only they'll be announcing a joint project between the FAA, EAA and Dynon to reduce the cost of avionics installations. The press release makes it sound like a significant reset of the avionics market. And while Dynon would offer no details Tuesday, they said it was a "very big deal."

What's going on here? As of Tuesday, no one was talking on the record, but we think what's going to happen is that EAA will announce it has developed  (or will) STCs to install Dynon's experimental avionics in certified aircraft, probably starting with some Cessna models. We don't know the specifics of this project, but we expect to find out on Wednesday morning.

If this turns out to be true, the announcement is every bit as big as the press release suggests and could represent a fundamental shift for many owners dragging their feet about avionics upgrades. It could also inject into the market a level of competition it hasn't seen for decades, not to mention stimulating more development in the low-cost end of the avionics market. Readers of this blog will know that owners are growing weary of five-figure avionics upgrades and many hunger for relief.

We all know that the only reason Dynon's and Garmin's experimental equipment hasn't found its way into certified aircraft is purely because of the artificial restraints of obsolete regulation. Is the ice about to break? We'll see. Stay tuned for Wednesday's news.

Icon Blowback

I got engaged a lot on Tuesday to discuss last week's revelation that Icon is asking customers to sign what nearly everyone I spoke to regards as an onerous and overbearing sales contract. Implicit in these conversations, I'd say, was a tone that was as much confusion as anger and rejection. What exactly are these Icon guys thinking?

My conversations included one with the CEO of a major manufacturer whose views I respect. We spent nearly an hour in spirited discussion during which he explained that Icon has done the industry a huge service by creating a sales arrangement that ought to serve as the model for the GA industry going forward. He believes that the broken tort climate in the U.S. won't be reformed at the legislative level and that companies that hope to survive will need restrictive sales contracts just like Icon is proposing. When I probed him further to illuminate his argument with more detail, he demurred from going on the record.

He challenged me, as a member of the press, to do the required research to explain, point by point, why the Icon approach makes sense and will save the industry. Fair enough, but I made it clear to him that his challenge, while reasonable, also pisses me off royally. If we in the press are expected to tell the story of Icon or anyone else in a way that gives readers knowledge informed by dispassionate discussion, then we have to have enough visibility into the minds of the people making these decisions to understand and explain their thinking. That my CEO friend declined to even go on the record is symptomatic of the difficulty in doing this. As I noted in Friday's blog, we've reached out to Icon for clarification and questions, but they've declined to respond.

I agree that we in the press have a duty to tell this story, but as it is now, we'll have to do it with surrogates, either in the GA industry or in related industries with similar liability histories. Unfortunately, there really aren't any. The tort climate in aviation is almost unique to our industry and our country. The CEO expressed frustration that an innovator like Icon gets bitterly criticized for attempting something that's truly new and different.

Well, maybe that's true. But respect for innovation isn't just awarded, it's earned. And companies that think explaining their views and reasoning isn't part of that process or who think everything they say and do should be accepted at face value, simply aren't living in the real world. Some companies believe that "objective" reporting is only reporting that heaps praise upon their efforts and some don't understand that opinions and reporting aren't the same thing. Further, in my view, it's just as unrealistic for Icon to believe that after a few days or weeks or months, buyers will see the wisdom of their contract and sign with grateful hearts.

In circumstances like this, where emotions run ragged and parties appear polarized, I try to keep an open mind. I continue to do so. But I continue to believe Icon could most help itself—and the industry it purports to be the savior of—with a candid conversation with those of us who have questions about that contract.

Meanwhile, if you're a lawyer or contract law expert and can argue in favor of this contractual approach, can you kindly contact me? I'd like to get an education here.

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