Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Oshkosh Dreamin'

Now through July 30th is the Experimental Aircraft Association's AirVenture event, commonly know to pilots by the name of the city where it is hosted - Oshkosh, Wisconsin. B'gosh, I've never been, but I do read the press releases since this is the venue where many manufacturers announce new products. I grew up in the Midwest and can easily imagine the hot humid air and thousands of pilots salivating over shiny aircraft, avionics, and other toys.

Garmin has announced several new products, including the new hand-held GPSMAP 496. Near as I can tell, this unit has all of the features of the popular, but expensive, 396, plus some new bells and whistles. Some of the new features include taxiway maps, an electronic version of the AOPA Airport Directory, and more rapid position updating (5 times per second). Road maps and navigation are also provided in case you want to use the unit in your car or, perhaps, land on a road? I'd love to have one of these units or even the older 396, but that flight instructor vow of poverty keeps getting in the way.

Garmin has also announced the G600 and G900 glass cockpit units for retrofitting older aircraft and for experimental (homebuilt) aircraft respectively. Garmin also announced a new G1000R retrofit for Beechcraft King Air 90 series aircraft. T]All of these unit provide AHARS for heading and attitude display, though one assumes that standby airspeed, altitude, and attitude instruments will still be required for certification. These units also include an air/data computer for altitude, airspeed, and vertical speed information as well as the new taxiway navigation feature and, if properly equipped, XM weather.

The G600 will be available about this time next year (2007) for around $27,000. One would imagine that the installation costs could easily reach half again the price of the G600. I wonder if the ADC is attached to the existing pitot/static system. In fact, for certificated aircraft types, one wonders if the necessary STCs will be forthcoming. I know what you're thinking - "Quit asking so many damned questions and just enjoy the pretty colors!"

As the old marketing adage goes, "You don't sell the steak, you sell the sizzle.


The Asian Badger said...

Oshkosh was wonderful again, but very hot and humid...at least the last two days. The 496 is a very nice unit but IMHO not worth the extra $600 over the 396. YMMV.

Greybeard said...

It is written in the book:
Every pilot must make the sojourn to Mecca, er... Oshkosh at least once in his/her life. I've been thrice and will go again, even though the rotorcraft section is an afterthought.

A.B. says it was hot and humid.
Yeah, sometimes.
Also be prepared for it to be uncomfortably cool and drizzly.

Great deals are to be had at the manufacturer's tents. Be prepared. Bring your checkbook.

Eric Gideon said...

Catch the new Cessna developments? It's about time they put together a new 152. Might be interesting to see what avionics they drop in - the new G600 might be a good match for the light-sport category.