industry Bendix/King by Honeywell’s KX-165A Equipped Like New Helping Aircraft Owners Upgrade Means Y S T O R Y B Y D A V E ou’ve heard the phrase many times: “They don’t make ‘em like they used to.” Actually, aside from a couple of compositeairframe exceptions, they really still do make ‘em like they used to. Today’s general aviation aircraft makers largely build them exactly like they used to build ‘em – and metal still dominates … except for today’s new-plane panels. Avidyne’s EX600 20 avionics news • august 2013 BUSINESS H I G D O N What goes into today’s panels stand out as a significant diversion away from aircraft equipped like those before the new century. Glass digitally driven instruments replace spinning-mass gyros, analog air sensors and electromechanical engine instrumentation in virtually every airplane being built today – including most light-sport aircraft. Most pilots fly older airplanes that fit budgets insufficient to support one of those new planes with their magical panels. But no owner of older aircraft need surrender the affordable wings currently flown just to gain the benefits of the digital panel revolution. The avionics industry can remake virtually any old bird into an airplane with all of the same advances in today’s new birds. Planned and managed to match the owner’s budget, such upgrades won’t cost anywhere near the value of the airplane being enhanced – and thousands less than the alternative path to a modern panel planemakers wish more could embrace. A factory-new plane. While the enhancements may not necessarily match the highest-dollar panels in every function, a budget-driven process can still deliver most of the improvements and functions of a modern digital panel.