Datalink Weather

Does anyone know when this feature will be available for the Avidyne MFD?

I spent about an hour talking to one of Avidyne’s engineers at Oshkosh. He informed me that the datalink transceiver was ALREADY installed in Cirrus aircraft with the MFD. He told me that the unit only needed to be “activated”.

Cirrus says that they currently have a plane down in Florida that is testing the system. According to Cirrus, one of the issues that is delaying introduction has to do with latency. Cirrus says that it takes about 20 minutes to receive an update. Avidyne says the delay in introduction has to do with EMI / RFI interference.

Another question regarding the system has to do with the Antenna. Avidyne sells a “black box” that allows the COM1 VHF antenna to do dual duty as COM and Datalink aerial. I have not been able to determine if Cirrus aircraft will need this adapter, or if the adapter is already installed in new aircraft in anticipation of the Datalink capabilities. I have also heard that a different antenna may be required altogether.

I am really anxious to obtain these capabilities. I have no intention of flying in bad weather, or using the system as weather radar. However, it would be great to see TFR’s, METAR’s, and the enroute weather on cross-country trips.

Please let me know if you have heard additional information or if the information I have received is inaccurate.

Thanks in advance.

Wayne Harris - SR20 8127B

Wayne,

there is a good article in the COPA newsletter that just came out. It is an interview with David the President of Avidyne. He answers some of your questions in this article.

Mason

Wayne: Your information is basiclly correct. I think the current Avidyne units have the satellite receiver built in. The older ones need the receiver, but it is just a plug in PCB card. AFIK you will need both the antenna coupler and the replacment antenna. The coupler disables the satellite connection when a transmission is made on the aircraft radio. I think that the installation also switches the #1 Garmin to the lower com antenna so that the upper antenna is connected to the #2. This reduces the interferrence, since most pilots use the #1 Garmin more often for transmission.

The antenna is made by a firm out in this area called ComAnt. The new unit is physically the same size and mounting arrangement as the existing roof com antenna but also has a connection for the satellite signal. That satellite connection goes through the coupler which keeps the transmit VHF RF out of the satellite receiver.

EMI / RFI, latency, image processing software, billing software, regulatory approval, STC approval, production delays, beta testing with the Avidyne 500, etc. etc. etc. I don’t think there is any single cause for the delay. Cirrus says they are not going to release the Wx until it is right. Avidyne, at least at Oshkosh, said “ask Cirrus”.

The article in the COPA newsletter is good, but it does not have any indication as to when the system will be available.

It would seem that both Cirrus and Avidyne will benefit substantially whenever the system is operational. Thus, the presumption has to be that they are both working on making it happen.

A few of our members have gone to the XM Wx system that was demonstrated at Oshkosh. The data for this system is carried on the XM satellite (a separate receiver is needed for audio although the antenna can be shared). You need some kind of PC, either a laptop or tablet and a GPS input to the PC if you want the maps oriented to your location and track. If you want Wx in the cockpit right now, that is the way to go.

I have about 400 hours with Echoflight’s datalink service. I’ve had their “Flight Cheetah” in my C172 for about 3 years. They also use the OrbCom satellite system that Avidine uses.

I have to caution you that when they say they’re having a problem with latency, it is a very serious problem. My Echoflight system has the same problem (20-40 minutes for updates) which can make it virtually useless at times.

Although the system was never designed to be tactical, even as a strategic weather planner it is horrible when you see Level Fives in front of you but the weather uplink is showing clear skies. It really makes you want to throw the thing out the window.

Echoflight makes the GDL49 weather uplink box for the Garmin 430/530 system, which I’ve considered buying, but I have found no one who can tell me that there has been a significant improvement in update times.

My point in all this is that I suspect that the OrbCom system may be at fault and would advise extreme caution in buying anything it uplinks to until you’ve seen lots of real world testing, to make sure your weather uplink doesn’t end up like mine, basically a “weather history” machine.

In reply to:


A few of our members have gone to the XM Wx system that was demonstrated at Oshkosh.


The WxWorx web site has some more information on XM-based weather.

-Mike

http://www.wsi.com/solutions/aviation/inflight/.

You might want to consider WSI as option as well. I have looked at several options and am leaning this way because of the frequent updates in all weather conditions and the quality of the data.

As you may know, the Av system is slow - especially when the weather is poor and many users are trying to obtain updates on weather. Additionally, I believe Av is VERY busy with PFD production and engineering.

I love Av but I think they have a " Full Plate " and I can’t see the WX being a priority no matter how badly they want the product or the revenue stream. Just my guess - but they are a small company and the PFD is a significant part of their product portfolio - so it is likely to receive the majority of engineering effort with the weather information suffering for now. I say this just based upon the timeline promised and the " actual timeline " for the weather. We all need weather information - and are all waiting patiently.

Many of us are considering other options for safety and peace of mind reasons. I personally would like to see the MFD lit up with weather tomorrow !

In reply to:


Additionally I might add that I believe the WSI version may be the best one for our short and long term needs http://www.wsi.com/solutions/aviation/inflight/. You might want to consider this option as well. I have looked at several options and am leaning this way because of the frequent updates in all weather conditions and the quality of the data.


Scott,

Have you seen the WxWorx system? Personally I liked that system better than WSI but of course, different people have different opinions…

Re: “I personally would like to see the MFD lit up with weather tomorrow !”

There is plenty of weather out there now to light up everybody’s MFD!

In reply to:


We all need weather information - and are all waiting…


This statement is true.

In reply to:


…waiting patiently.


That statement is debatable.[:@]

Jeffrey Cardenas
N705C

I have seen both and for the under $1k price point I agree with you - there is certainly a lot of value in the Sat WX system.

I just got an email from Aviation Consumer. They have an article in the October 2003 issue. The article focuses on the WSI and WxWORK system but they also touch on the transmission and latency issues including Garmin and Avidyne’s systems. The article is copyrighted, but if you subscribe you can get it on line.

If you don’t subscribe, you should. It is a small investment in some very valuable information.