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Wed, Apr 15, 2009

Avidyne Gets REALLY Competitive -- Announces DFC100 Digital Autopilot

DFC100 Digital Flight Control System Coming For Entegra Release 9-Equipped Cirrus Aircraft

Just when you thought that a certain Kansas based manufacturer could sit back and relax, comes news that the first company to bring glass cockpits into serious serial production has come back with a vengeance. Like, Kapow!

Avidyne announced Tuesday its new attitude-based DFC100 Digital Flight Control System, which is targeted specifically for installation in Cirrus SR20 and SR22 aircraft with Avidyne's dual Air Data and Attitude Heading Reference Systems (ADAHRS) and the Entegra Release 9 Integrated Flight Deck (IFD) system.

Avidyne's DFC100 is an integrated flight computer and control panel that is designed as a plug-and-play replacement for existing rate-based STEC 55X flight computers, and is compatible with Cirrus SR20 and SR22 aircraft that have upgraded to Entegra Release 9 (pictured below). When the DFC100 is added to the Entegra Release 9-equipped Cirrus aircraft, there's no additional wiring and therefore virtually no aircraft down time required to upgrade to the ADAHRS-driven attitude-based autopilot.

"With the nearly 5,000 Entegra-equipped aircraft currently in service, Avidyne has a proven track record of developing product upgrades that allow these owners to optimize utility and enhance performance over the entire useful life of their aircraft," said Patrick Herguth, Avidyne's Chief Operating Officer. "Release 9 adds a whole new level of functionality and with the attitude-based DFC100, owners of R9-equipped Cirrus aircraft who want to replace their existing rate-based autopilot will be able to fly with the digital precision provided by dual solid-state ADAHRS inputs."

"The DFC100 is the first in a series of flight control system products being developed by our Guidance and Controls Group in Boulder, Colorado, and it's part of our systematic development of avionics systems that make flying simpler and safer," said Avidyne president Dan Schwinn. "Entegra Release 9 is simply the best flight deck in all of aviation, and the DFC100 provides Cirrus owners with next-generation attitude-based autopilot capability to match."

The feature-rich DFC100 has all the standard vertical and lateral modes of operation of a turbine-class autopilot system, including Flight Director (FD), Altitude Hold (ALT), Airspeed Hold (IAS), Vertical Speed Hold (VS), Heading (HDG), and Navigation (NAV, LOC/GS, GPSS). With Release 9, the DFC100 supports Avidyne's exclusive FMS Vectors™ mode, which allows the pilot to remain coupled during air traffic control (ATC) vectors operations without having to manually change autopilot modes.

 And -- much like the GFC 700 automatic flight control system standard with the Garmin G1000-derived Perspective avionics suite -- the DFC100 also includes a "Straight & Level" button which overrides all autopilot modes, leveling the wings and engaging altitude hold for an added measure of safety in the event of an emergency situation where the pilot gets disoriented, or prior to activating the Cirrus' parachute.

Avidyne's Entegra Release 9 is currently being certified in Cirrus SR20 and SR22 aircraft with the STEC 55X autopilot. Certification of the DFC100 retrofit in the Cirrus is expected in 2010. The list price of the DFC100 Digital Flight Computer for Release 9-equipped Cirrus aircraft is $14,990.

E-I-C Note: We just spent a little over an hour flying the new Release 9 system, reportedly destined for certification within a matter of days. While R9 boasts all the tricks it needs to, to keep up with the competition, the R9 program blows EVERYTHING else on the market away with ease of use and a methodology that even an aviation journalist can understand (grin). R9 is a major step forward and it could put Avidyne in the lead one more time... and as long as Avidyne is willing to fight to keep it, we'll have a two-horse avionics race again (and we will all benefit). R9 does it all... from a capability standpoint -- but what is staggering about this build, is its ease of use and the truly inspired methodology. It isn't perfect, but it has the potential to be the best I've flown so far. So good, in fact, that I'm seriously considering the upgrade for ANN's bird -- I'm not quite ready to make the leap YET... but I am getting there.

Avidyne has the chance to do something few companies do -- make a successful go at a  "Second Chance" -- and from here on out, it's up to them.

FMI: www.avidyne.com, www.release9.com, www.avidyne.com/landing/fms.asp

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