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Wed, Jul 25, 2012

Aspen Avionics Announces Initial Production And Shipment Of Connected Pilot

First 2-Way Data Interface For GA

Aspen Avionics announced on Tuesday that they have received TSO approval for the first in the series of the company’s revolutionary Connected Panel product line that provides a wireless link between certified instrument panel avionics and portable smart devices. FAA Supplemental Type Certificate (STC) approval for Connected Pilot is imminent, so with TSO in hand Aspen has begun production and shipment of Connected Pilot units.

Aspen’s patent-pending line of Connected Panel products seamlessly integrates and synchronizes aviation application data from personal handheld devices with the certified avionics installed in an aircraft’s panel. This technology is enabled via Aspen’s Evolution Flight Displays, which are interoperable with a wide variety of avionics equipment that exists within the general aviation aircraft fleet.

Connected Pilot is designed for Apple iOS mobile devices, such as iPads and iPhones, and is able to receive data from almost any panel-mounted GPS navigator. Additionally, Connected Pilot can enter and synchronize flight plans between Garmin GNS 400W/500W series navigators and Connected Panel Enabled flight planning apps. “Utilizing the iPad, Connected Pilot facilitates a touch screen flight planning interface for Garmin’s GNS navigators. Aspen’s customers aren’t confined to a single flight planning application, but can choose from many apps offered by our Connected Panel Enabled partners. We believe that offering a variety of app solutions is the best way to meet individual pilot needs,” says Aspen’s Vice President of Marketing, Brad Hayden. “As with our popular Evolution Flight Displays, Aspen’s Connected Panel technology serves to extend the useful life of currently installed avionics, helping to protect the investment owners have already made in their aircraft’s panels.”

All or part of Connected Panel functionality will be available for new and legacy GPS navigators, depending upon its ability to transmit and receive data. For example, the Bendix/King KSN 770 Nav/Com/GPS will be fully integrated with Connected –including functionality such as radio tuning from the iPad. That level of integration may not be available with some avionics that weren’t designed with the Connected Panel architecture in mind.

Connected Pilot includes hardware, software, and application components. The hardware is enclosed in a small box called the CG100 (patent-pending) that is blind mounted behind the aircraft’s panel. The feature-rich CG100 contains the operating software, wireless connectivity and flash memory storage. The unit is configured and maintained via Aspen’s Flight Connect app, designed for Apple iOS, which will be available via the iTunes store.

Many of those partners – including ForeFlight, AvConnect, Hilton Software, Digital Sectional, Seattle Avionics, Bendix/King and Jeppesen – have Connected Panel Enabled applications that are either now available, or will be available for purchase by the time Connected Pilot receives STC. These apps include flight planning, radio tuning and automatic aircraft data and pilot data management.

“Before we’ve even shipped the first Connected Pilot unit we’ve already seen the vision of this groundbreaking product realized,” says Aspen Avionics President and CEO, John Uczekaj. “Since Connected Panel’s announcement last year, we have been approached by an increasing number of hardware manufacturers and software developers who want to explore very exciting and groundbreaking cockpit applications. These solutions will make flying safer, easier, more affordable and more enjoyable. And collaborations with our partners are forming the roadmap for upcoming iterations of the Connected Panel product line – beyond Connected Pilot –that Aspen will roll out in the future.”

This major breakthrough with the FAA hopefully will cause more devices of this type and more openness and integration between avionics companies.  Something that will be required to satisfy customer demands for more product integration between vendors.  With many Wi-Fi and Bluetooth devices and solutions coming to market; there is a strong need for an “Access Point” device in the cockpit since the IOS device can only connect to one Bluetooth and one Wi-Fi device at a time.  Aspen is now in a leadership role to be that “Access Point”.

Connected Pilot is being demonstrated at AirVenture 2012 this week in the Aspen Avionics and at the company’s North 40 Hospitality Tent. Additionally, Jeppesen is demonstrating Connected Panel Enabled compatibility with Mobile Flight Deck 2.0 in their exhibit space. Connected Pilot lists for $2,499, and customers may order the product through any authorized Aspen dealer.

FMI: www.aspenavionics.com

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