Yawning our way through EFIS.
Normally, about three days into non-stop AirVenture coverage at Oshkosh, I have a world-class case of the thousand-yard stare. If I'm lucky, the vague rivulets of spittle in the corners of my mouth don't run onto my shirt. This year, there was more new stuff, more airplanes, more vendors and more self-important media pukes running around with notebooks, cameras and recorders than I can ever remember. As Martha Stewart used to say before she taught the girls in C-block to make festive place settings out of prison shivs, it's a good thing.
Well, maybe it's not all good. I hit the wall between Aspen's and Bendix/King's booth. After looking at both of their new EFIS offerings, I was suddenly seized by the realization that what we have here is a failure of imagination in designing displays. Five years into glass cockpits as standard fare in new airplanes, we're still looking at displays that mimic the look of steam gauges. If I never see another electronic Al projected on a blue and brown background, I won't feel deprived. Garmin's G1000, Avidyne's Entegra and the new stuff from Bendix/King and Aspen (see page 14 of this issue) are solid, competent and well-designed products. And their displays are just boring as hell. I submit that it's time to rethink the basic EFIS idea and use the technology to its fullest advantage.
But then Chelton has already done that. A walk through their booth was a cool breeze on a stifling day. Chelton's military-inspired FlightLogic display with vector lines, HITS boxes and 3-D traffic and terrain is so utterly superior to everything else that I can't for the life of me understand why no one else has picked it up as we graduate to second-gen boxes. Probably it's due to industrial inertia. If a 95 percent solution sells, why go the extra effort for that last 5 percent? Further, not enough would-be buyers have compared displays. Like sheep, they're just thrilled to have any glass at all. It's too bad, really. Life behind an EFIS could be so much more interesting than it is now.
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|Title Annotation:||FIRST WORD; Electronic Flight Instrument System|
|Publication:||The Aviation Consumer|
|Date:||Sep 1, 2007|
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