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Aspen Evolution no longer requires mechanical backup

Aspen Avionics CEO John Uczekaj said July 26 that the FAA allowed the change after years of data showed the digital equipment is far more reliable than mechanical attitude indicators and turn coordinators that have long been required as backup instruments.

“This change allows our customers to get rid of the least reliable and most failure-prone instrument in their panels,” said Uczekaj said. “They love it for the weight savings and the clean look of the [all-digital] panels they’ll have.”

Aspen also announced a software upgrade that will allow its PFDs to interface with Garmin GFC 600 autopilots. Garmin and Aspen are working together to obtain regulatory approval to make the change.

About 14,000 Aspen PFDs are installed in the general aviation aircraft fleet. Aspen already works with Avidyne and Genesys digital autopilots.

Aspen helped start the glass-panel avionics revolution in GA 15 years ago with FAA certification of its one-, two-, or three-screen displays. Since then, other firms have surged ahead with larger, higher-resolution displays and integrated avionics suites.

About 90 percent of Aspen customers have upgraded or replaced their avionics with newer Aspen units, but the company hasn’t kept pace with the GA industry’s shift towards larger screens.

Uczekaj said a merger with the AIRO Group, an international amalgamation of six aerospace firms, will give Aspen the capital it needs to bring ambitious new avionics products to market. Uczekaj is chief operating officer of AIRO, a firm based in Washington, D.C.

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