Dave Hirschman

Dave’s SNF marketing survey: Aspen/Synthetic Vision/Sport Cub/GPS

April 9, 2008 by Dave Hirschman, Senior Editor

Totally unscientific, anecdotal, and preliminary (but probably right).

* Aspen Avionics glass panel is a winner. The crowd outside the company’s booth has been big throughout the first few days at Sun ‘n Fun, and interest is building. Every vendor selling the displays has been pleased at the response to the vacuum-gauge replacement, and I think the company will sell tens of thousands of units for piston-aircraft retrofits. The jury’s still out on Aspen’s future MFD and whether the company will replace the other four gauges in traditional instrument six-packs. But it’s putting vacuum-driven, mechanical attitude indicators and directional gyros on the endangered list.

* Synthetic Vision is unstoppable. I’ll bet 95 percent of the owners of Garmin G1000 aircraft eventually add the software upgrade. Diamond is offering Garmin “Synthetic Vision Technology” (SVT) as a $10,000 option on new DA-40s, and that’s going to put pressure on other aircraft manufacturers to match. At that price, few will be able to resist. Grand Rapids Technology and Chelton pioneered GPS-based synthetic vision–but Garmin is going to make it an industry standard.

*The Sport Cub is my favorite LSA. If it doesn’t rekindle a resurgence in tailwheel aircraft, nothing will . . .

*Hand-held GPSs are getting bigger. Way bigger. The displays on some of the new models are giant. So are the boxes themselves. Maybe it’s driven by the aging pilot population (and our inability to read small print). But portable GPSs are beginning to resemble the ancient stone tablets Moses brought down from Mount Sinai, and they probably weigh about as much. The main differences are the portables require cigarette-lighter adapters–and we’re a lot more likely to follow GPS commandments . . .


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