Imagine never sitting in the cockpit, on the ramp, sweating in swelter or shivering in the freeze working through knob-and-button land, twisting and turning buttons and knobs programming your flight plan into your panel-mounted GPS.
Instead, imagine your fingers flying over an Android or Apple smartphone or tablet device screen at breakfast—then with a couple of screen taps wirelessly loading that plan into the aircraft GPS.
Aspen Avionics Connected Panel system is about to make that flight-planning fantasy a reality and enable other wireless interconnects between panel and pad with its just-announced Connected Panel.
“Aspen’s Connected Panel creates a wireless bridge between smart devices and the aircraft’s certified avionics, increasing the pilot’s access to data and enhancing the utility of their mobile devices,” said Brad Hayden, Aspen’s vice president of marketing.
“Mobile devices have revolutionized how pilots use flight data, but until now these smart devices have been unable to communicate with onboard systems in real time.
“The Evolution Flight Display products are interoperable with a variety of new and legacy avionics products from multiple manufacturers, making Evolution a natural networker of flight data.”
Working with a “robust community” of partners—both within and without the aviation community—products for the Connected Panel are already in the works with a target for initial deliveries of hardware, software, and applications by year’s end, according to Hayden.
Leveraging Aspen’s open architecture
The backbone of Connected Panel is a small hardware box called the CG100 (patent pending) that gets blind-mounted behind the aircraft’s panel. For under $2,500, this feature-rich hardware device contains wireless, Bluetooth, and USB connectivity options—as well as flash memory storage.
Leveraging commercially available technology enabled Aspen to give the CG100 standard-protocol ports and communications slots to allow developers to add peripheral hardware as needed to enhance the utility of their own applications.
Aspen plans for the initial product of a planned Connected Panel line to be its Connected Pilot, software with the ability to tune radios and cross-fill flight plans from an iPad to the Bendix/King by Honeywell KSN 770 nav/comm/GPS—an all-in-one box being developed by Honeywell and Aspen.
ForeFlight plans the release of a new version of its market-leading iPad flight-planning application ForeFlight Mobile to work with Connected Pilot.
ForeFlight Mobile users will be able to create flight plans on their iPads and through Connected Pilot wirelessly load them into the KSN 770 using ForeFlight’s intuitive, award-winning interface. Modifications to flight plans, made using either the installed GPS or iPad, can easily be synchronized wirelessly on both the portable and panel-mounted equipment.
Radio tuning from ForeFlight Mobile into the KSN 770 will also be intuitive, with only a simple touch on the iPad display needed to enter into the standby slot of the radio frequencies from graphic airport diagrams or charts.
The pilot then needs only to toggle the frequency on the radio from “standby” to “active” to accept the tuning input.
AvConnect—a comprehensive aircraft and pilot management application available for general aviation—is creating an automatic-logging application that collects aircraft-performance data through Connected Pilot and its integration with the Connected Panel.
In the wings…
Aspen is also actively cultivating partnerships among top aviation hardware and application companies to create more Connected Panel Enabled products to work with Connected Panel’s open architecture.
“Connected Panel is open platform, and its power comes from the development partners who build applications that use it. The more partners building products that are Connected Panel Enabled, the more integrated options we can provide to the GA market,” said John Uczekaj, president and CEO of Aspen Avionics.
Among the companies already committed are Jeppesen, JP Instruments, Parrot, Pinnacle Aerospace, PS Engineering, Seattle Avionics, and Sporty’s Pilot Shop.
“The integrated functionality of these companies’ applications with Connected Panel demonstrates the increased capability and superior user experience this platform can provide.”