Tom Haines

What’s missing from this picture?

June 20, 2008 by Thomas B. Haines, Editor in Chief

Featuring the Cirrus Perspective by Garmin panel, our July cover story asks the question: Is this the Ultimate Panel?

Forget the brand for a moment, do the glass cockpits in today’s new single-engine piston airplanes represent the ultimate? What’s missing? New airplanes typically have a large primary flight display, often showing synthetic vision–so obstacles and terrain are depicted along with highway-in-the-sky guidance to the next waypoint. Add in traffic depictions and it’s hard to run into anything these days. Over on the equally large multifunction display you typically have terrain information, datalinked nexrad weather, lightning depictions, text weather, fuel and engine monitoring and alerting, and a host of other features. Today’s autopilots will fly any procedure in the book, including the holding patterns. See the video of my recent flight in the Cirrus.

What else would you like to see in the panel and if not in the panel, what’s the next area of evolution–or revolution–for single-engine airplanes? Give us your ideas by clicking the “Post your comments” link below.

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One Response to “What’s missing from this picture?”

  1. David Reinhart Says:

    What’s still missing is full-fledged FMS capability. It’s close, but it’s not there yet. The NAV system basically still needs to make the jump to automatic, all-mode navigation. VOR down or NOTAM’d N/A below 10,000 ft.? No problem, the GPS takes over. On the ILS and the localizer goes down? Again, the GPS steps in automatically and you don’t notice except for the warning flag and (possibly) a new DH popping up.

    How about voice control for things like IDENT and flip-flopping frequencies? That could be nice.

    We also don’t have two-way datalink for ATC clearances, etc. The big boys have ACARS.

    Those are the ones that pop into my head.

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