Tom Horne

Controls for the control freaks

May 10, 2010 by Thomas A. Horne, Editor At Large

I’m currently at Simcom-Orlando, taking a Pilatus PC-12 NG transition course. And the name of the game is Apex, as in Honeywell”s Apex avionics suite. That’s the “NG” (Next Generation) in the since-2008 PC-12 models.

 Like different data-entry methods? You’ll love the Apex.

Push-and-turn knobs? Apex has ’em. Ditto rotary knobs, keypads, line select keys, point-and-click–they’re all here. Oh, and don’t forget the mini-joystick, for maneuvering around the two multifunction displays. I think that every possible method of data entry is represented in the Apex design philosophy. Plus, many data entries can be accomplished by more than one  strategy.  Can you say “heads-down”?

Which makes for a steep learning curve, my brothers and sisters. Today I supped at the fire-hose dinner. Will tomorrow be better? Hope so. By Friday I should be a pro and pointing, clicking, twisting, pushing, and highlighting. That’s what they tell me.

One thing’s for sure. The airplane is a whale of a lot easier to run than the avionics. At least, from this day-one perspective.

One Response to “Controls for the control freaks”

  1. Dave Says:

    I love reading accounts of pilots in the ‘transition mode” to new, modern avionics. It is hard. I’ve tried to standardize on the GNS430, but even that system has such a lack of ergonomics that forces the pilot to keep his eyes on the system. These are fantastic systems, but they are not easy. Good luck.

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