Upgrade the New-To-You Airplane - Flying Magazine
When you purchase a new-to-you home, it is common to live with it as-is for a bit, and then you start to think about remodeling to make it more suitable to your needs and lifestyle.
Upgrading the instrument panel on a new-to-you airplane works the same way. You might have purchased it with a VFR panel, then decided to add IFR capability. Or perhaps the technology has evolved to the extent that your IFR panel is obsolete. It’s time to see what’s out there in panel upgrades, and what will work in your airplane.
Ten years ago, the most common panel conversions were from round dial, also known as legacy or steam gauge panels, to initial glass cockpits. According to Aspen Avionics in Albuquerque, New Mexico, and Advanced Flight Systems in Canby, Oregon, these days, aircraft owners are focusing on upgrading their panels with the latest in glass technology.
Usually it is a two-fold process, says Perri Coyne, director of marketing operations for Aspen Avionics. The customer picks out the panel they want, and Aspen sends them a recommendation for a shop to do the work.
“With 700-plus dealers around the world, you probably aren’t too far from a shop that can help upgrade your panel,” she says, adding that Aspen Avionics “literally holds the patent on a plug-in solution for an EFIS to replace round-dial, six-pack instruments without cockpit panel modifications.”
According to Coyne, over the years, the company's mission has expanded to provide products to more and more aircraft types and OEMs.
“We have always been focused on providing avionics products that can grow with the needs of our customers regardless of aircraft and market,” says Coyne. “Our initial focus has been in the aftermarket GA segment and over time have expanded to provide products to more and more aircraft types and OEMs.
“It is our core philosophy to work with whatever our customers have installed or are wanting to install their panels,” she says.
“The Trade In Trade Up Program is unique in that aircraft owners can trade in their ‘older’ Aspen displays to the latest generation of Aspen Max displays at a significantly reduced price and get a new two-year warranty,” Coyne continues. “The trade-in program is an integral part of our strategy to provide a path for our customers to capitalize on their initial investment and affordably stay up with the latest hardware and functional innovations without having to incur the large expense of having to start over with an entirely new platform. For instance, a new Evolution Pro Max PFD sells for $9,995.
“An owner can trade in their old display for a new Max display for $4,995, which now comes with standard synthetic vision,” Coyne says. “Aspen units that can be traded in for the Max units include the E5 (our basic PFD), the VFR-only display, the ‘Pilot’ or the older ‘Legacy’ EFD1000 primary flight display (not Max). Additionally, if there is any factory warranty left on the trade-in display, we will add the remaining coverage of the warranty for the new display. For example, an owner trades in his current display, which still has six months left of warranty coverage; that six months will be added to the new display for a warranty of 30 months, versus 24 months.”