Avionics News June 2020 - 18

Dynon's EFIS-D100

ALTERNATIVELY APPROVED AVIONICS
Continued from page 17

light general-aviation aircraft. For owners flying basic, lowvalue aircraft, finding an affordable glass-cockpit conversion
ranked up there with holding a winning lottery ticket.
Small chance. Now, more than five years later, the avionics
market is awash in new options available solely because of
this alternative approval path.
Joining the glass-roots revolution
The EAA and Dynon worked with the FAA to
demonstrate the safety value of creating a simpler path to
approval than the old route of earning TSO approval before
seeking installation approvals as original equipment in new
aircraft or via STC.
A TSO is a minimum performance standard issued by the
FAA for specified materials, parts, processes and appliances
used on civil aircraft. A TSO is required of equipment
installed to allow flight operations on an instrument flight
rules plan and to legally fly in instrument meteorological
conditions. The FAA also generally wants to see TSO'd gear
in the panels of aircraft flown for hire.
For decades, builders of experimental, amateur-built
aircraft submitted for approval the technical specifications
of avionics gear without TSO to gain IFR approval for such
so-called "unapproved" avionics. Through this process,
experimental, amateur-built aircraft flew with non-TSO'd
multifunction displays, primary flight displays, and sundry
electronic engine and navigation displays.
Numerous factors fed the appeal of those new displaybased panel equipment. Safety underpinned most of them.
A properly equipped panel filled with glass instruments
brought a higher level of reliability to the cockpit and
provided a path that pilots and owners could follow to
remove flight instruments with air-driven, spinning-mass
gyroscopes and air-data instruments - and to ditch the
reliability-plagued vacuum pumps driving the gyroscopebased instruments.
Years of experience with non-TSO'd PFDs helped these
new glass instruments develop a following thanks to their
high reliability, lighter weight and the deeper function
sets many offered. For example, a digital electronic PFD
combines into one unit the three air-data instruments -
airspeed, altitude and vertical speed - and the three gyro
instruments: the attitude indicator, directional gyro (or gyro
compass as some are called) and turn indicator.
Some of the earliest incarnations used their electronic
displays to present all six of the so-called standard six-pack
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2020

as six individual dials, retaining a presentation familiar to
most pilots. But further advances in digital air-data sensors
and solid-state gyro-instrument sensors helped the PFD
evolve quickly into an instrument with a gyro-compass dial,
a turn indicator and more, all of it overlaid on an attitude
indicator presentation dominating the central area of the
screen.
As the avionics industry moved ahead, the PFD display
evolved with the air-data displays flanking the AI display. On
the left of the AI is a vertical airspeed tape; on the right side,
also adjacent to the AI display, you will find a large vertical
tape for the altimeter readout, with a shorter vertical-speed
tape parallel alongside and parallel to the altimeter readout.
The air-data sensors make use of the same pitot-static system
used by analog instruments, except in a PFD the pressure side
is plumbed to a pressure transducer that converts the pressure
it feels into readouts for airspeed, altitude and vertical speed.
Thanks for the MEMS
The digital-sensor technology underpinning this
revolution in aircraft instrumentation crept onto the scene
back in the 1990s. The micro-electromechanical system, or
MEMS, is a miniature machine with both mechanical and
electronic components. They reside in our tablet computers,
smartphones, cars, boats and motorcycles thanks to the
extreme versatility of the MEMS.
MEMS describes both a category of micromechatronic
devices and the manufacturing processes that create them.
Not all MEMS have mechanical parts but still carry the
MEMS designation since they miniaturize parts and
structures used in conventional machinery - cavities,
channels, holes, membranes and springs.
Further, not all MEMS sense motion or attitude. Dubbed
"transducers," these specialized MEMS convert a measured



Avionics News June 2020

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