I spoke with a knowledgeable ARNAV representative
about the ICDS 2000. Two concerns of owners are the uplink of weather information and the engine
monitoring capability of the ICDS 2000. I would have liked to run this copy by Cirrus and ARNAV to assure its accuracy, but did not. So, there may be a few misunderstandings on my part.
First, the engine trend monitoring system is still in the certification process and will be completed by the time our airplane #235 is ready (next summer). The price has not been set, but it is likely that for a six-cylinder engine the cost would be in the $4,000 -$5,000 range. The system would feature, among other things, a split-screen display that would automatically display in an out-of-tolerance situation on the ICDS 2000.
Second, the weather uplink and stormscope interface. The weather uplink is being considered by Cirrus this month at one of its semiannual product improvement opportunities. This is the opportunity Cirrus uses to incorporate new options into its product, such as the DR-100, the transceiver from ARNAV that will allow the
uplink of NEXRAD weather (refreshes every 10 minutes) and flight information services from ground-based VHF stations. Weather information is currently available for much of the east coast with Florida and Virginia as two stand-out states for coverage due to special two-way applications (flight following) for life support helicopters supported by that industry in Florida and by the State of Virginia.
The DR-100 transceiver will be available soon as a
result of the product improvement opportunities either this month or after the second meeting. In any event, the DR-100 is a reality soon to occur in either a kit form for off-site installation or as a Cirrus option. By next summer, ARNAV believes it will be an option for us (#235). The cost for the transceiver is approximately $1,500, but will include the first year’s subscription
service, valued at $500 a year. Digital data without graphics, such as METAR’s and TAF’s will be available for free without a subscription. The FAA system involving a new format, the VDL mode 2, that purports to provide a weather data refresh rate of every five minutes is currently undefined and no such receiver exists. If and when it exists, ARNAV will support it.
ARNAV will be issuing a press release next week on the availability of a new uplink weather system via satellite. The certified receiver, weighing 4-5 lbs., will provide nation-wide coverage costing around $10,000. You will pay for what you use, rather than pay a subscription rate. It will have telephone and email capability. This option will be presented to
Cirrus at the next meeting. This capability is in
response to competitors offering satellite-based
weather capability. In my opinion, this is the way Cirrus should go – you’d have nationwide coverage for no more money than a Stormscope.
The Stormscope WX-500 interface with the ICDS 2000
will also be finalized with Cirrus at one of the next two meetings. One problem with any antenna-based product, including stormscopes, transceivers, etc. has been the composite structure of the aircraft, which does not offer enhancement of the signal received. Metal airplanes act as big antennas. ARNAV does not intend to provide lightning data as one
of its uplinked weather products due to the perishable nature of that information. They believe that the NEXRAD
images can be used for weather avoidance. Stormscopes are available if you must have one.
Update of the ICDS 2000 is basically a once-a-year
proposition. Obstructions and airspace changes are
included in their data. Approaches and enroute
information are imported from the GPS database. So, if the Garmin unit is kept up-to-date as required, this is sufficient for IFR approaches.
ARNAV, I’m convinced, is making its best effort in this fast-changing arena, especially in the weather area. The satellite-based uplink is really the best way to go and with the soon to be announced product they will have seized upon the ability to distribute weather information nationwide. Cirrus has to move on it quickly too, which I’m sure they will.