Dynon effectively stirred the avionics-for-certified-airplanes pot at EAA AirVenture 2017 when it announced that its experimental-only Skyview HDX glass suite would be available for certified aircraft—with the first STCs expected by the end of the year. As an integral part of the program, it was launching an entire product line called Dynon Certified. The first airplanes to go through the STC process were to be a Cessna 172 and a Beech Baron. One of the goals of the program was to be able to price the Skyview HDX for certified aircraft as nearly as possibly the same as for experimental aircraft. If Dynon could pull it off, the savings to owners of CAR 3 and FAR 23 aircraft for a glass panel retrofit could be measured in the tens of thousands of dollars.
As we left 2017 astern, we hadn’t received word that Dynon had received the first STCs. Having followed the certification of just about everything in aviation that can go through the process, we’ve found that few time predictions prove accurate. Even with the new, somewhat streamlined Part 23 rules, the process is staggeringly complex and even a key individual being sidelined with the flu for a week can create bottlenecks that take more weeks to straighten out. We also cringe just slightly when we hear that certification is hoped for by year-end as we’ve personally observed that when the holiday season rolls around, everything in the aviation development and certification world tends to come to an abrupt halt.
We called Dynon last week to see if we could find out where things stood. Michael Schofield, Dynon’s marketing manager, told us that, as we suspected, there had been some delays, however, they “. . . were closing in on certification of the installation of the 172. It should happen early this year, it’s weeks away.” He went on to say that certification will be the start of an AML (Approved Model List) STC—the basic certification data for the Supplemental Type Certificate is approved for the first airplane and then used as the basis for the STC to be applied to additional aircraft. Dynon will not have to reinvent the glass panel for each type of airplane, just adapt it for the specific differences of each type. It’s nothing new for Dynon; when it and the EAA obtained the Accessible Safety AML STC for the Dynon D10A EFIS, it was eventually expanded to encompass most of the Cessna 100 and 200 series, the Piper PA-32 line and Beech and Mooney singles.
For legacy aircraft with round gauges, the Dynon HDX will replace the flight instruments and allow the owner to 86 the vacuum pump. The HDX suite includes a 10.32-inch (total width) display designed to incorporate a full primary flight display and can be split to show a PFD on one side and a multi-function moving map on the other. It’s mostly self-contained in a package that’s 3.1 inches deep, so fitting it into all but the tightest panels should be doable without outrageous modifications to the panel. A D10A EFIS will be the backup attitude indicator.
HDX screen resolution is 1280 by 800 pixels, according to Dynon’s spec sheet. The display has a 37-pin and 9-pin connector for main wiring harnesses and interfaces and also features USB connectors. It also has onboard wireless capability. Functions are controlled via touchscreen or knobs—which we appreciate having been willing to cheerfully throttle designers of touchscreen-only systems when flying in turbulence.
The HDX control set has two knobs at the lower corners of the bottom bezel with eight keys for various functions that change with context. These are labeled along the bottom edge of the display. While the HDX can be paired as two displays, it can also provide full function in just one.
The PFD can also be configured to show virtual steam gauges rather than what has become the traditional HSI and tape view. The display is loaded with information, including true airspeed, density altitude, outside air temperature, wind and an angle-of-attack indicator.
The engine instruments, which will vary by aircraft, are placed along the bottom edge of the display and in addition to the required power instruments and temperatures, fuel quantity is also displayed. There’s also voltage and amp info and visual flap and trim-state indicators. A unique addition is a percentage-power indicator and a leaning function.
What may be the Skyview’s strongest selling point is that it’s a complete package that includes the display itself, plus Dynon’s autopilot servos controlled through the virtual panel or dedicated hardware. ADS-B In and Out are also included.
The autopilot is controlled through a virtual panel or a dedicated hard panel and offers altitude hold, vertical speed and altitude pre-select. A separate virtual subpanel controls the Mode-S transponder Dynon supplies for ADS-B Out.
The system will be approved for IFR when paired with approved IFR navigators from Avidyne and Garmin as the onboard GPS is not approved for IFR.
At Oshkosh, Schofield said that the HDX Skyview for certified aircraft was expected to be priced at $16,000 for the hardware. In our telephone conversation, Schofield told us that the $16,000 number has not changed—Dynon wants to price its boxes for certified and experimental aircraft the same. There will be one difference: Because Dynon had to expend a great deal of money obtaining certification, it will have to charge for the STC for a certified aircraft. For the Cessna 172, Schofield told us that he expects the price of the STC to the buyer to be $2000. That number may be different for follow-on airplanes, depending on the cost to obtain the STC and the expected demand for units for that type of airplane. According to Schofield, Dynon has been nearly overwhelmed with owners contacting it to say they want their type airplane to be the next STC: “Thousands of people are saying ‘I want this,’ and hundreds are telling us that they are ready to buy now.”
Initially, Dynon plans to approve individual shops to do installations, for quality control and to keep costs down. Schofield said that they want to keep the total cost for the HDX suite, STC and installation in the low- to mid-$20,000 range.
Schofield said that the STC for the Baron will be completed after STCs for some other airplanes. He told us that decisions as to which airplanes will come first have not been finalized but talked about the Cessna 182, Piper Cherokee series, Mooneys and the Bonanza line (“those guys are really organized”). Reading between the lines, while Dynon wanted to show that the HDX suite will be viable throughout the general aviation piston world with simultaneous certification in the 172 and Baron, it makes economic sense to first go where the highest demand is expected to be—piston singles used by flight schools and owners who use their airplanes to travel.
We think a $16,000 glass panel suite that includes an autopilot and engine monitoring for a certified airplane is a big deal. Dynon has made it work and become a force in the experimental world for some time. It’s a big step to the certified aircraft world. We’d like to see Dynon pull off bringing high-quality glass at a competitive price to a world that hasn’t had much competition. We’re hoping to hear an announcement of STC receipt from Dynon before the end of March.
Rick Durden holds a CFII and ATP with type ratings in the Douglas DC-3 and Cessna Citation and is the author of The Thinking Pilot’s Flight Manual or, How to Survive Flying Little Airplanes and Have a Ball Doing It, Vols. 1 & 2.