Consider two pilots, one flying a Lancair-IV and the second piloting a Cherokee 140, both while under instrument conditions with no autopilot, and each with a complete loss of attitude instruments. Read on, discovering how they survived their experiences …
A Lancair-IV without a functioning autopilot entered the clouds, leaving the two people on board depending on two EFIS displays for aircraft control. Both EFIS displays suddenly went blank, giving new meaning to the term “blue screen of death.”
We might expect the loss of both souls on board. But no fatalities occurred. No accident occurred.
Owner and pilot Lin Hough had just flown into IMC at 17,000’ when both displays went completely blank. The Xavion VP-400 backup display “performed perfectly,” allowing Lin to continue his flight safely.
Lin commented, “The VP-400 mounted in my Lancair rolled right into action. I was almost level at 19,000’ when my displays came back. I didn’t have a functioning auto pilot, which added to the intensity of the moment. The outcome without the VP-400 might not have been survivable.”
Lin Hough’s Lancair with the VP-400 mounted in the center.
The VP-400 is a backup avionics display that may be installed in experimental aircraft. With its own GPS and AHRS sensors, the VP-400 provides synthetic vision as well as airspeed, and altitude displays, and uses a primitive artificial intelligence to guide pilots to the best airport at which to land in the event of engine failure.
And now, in a version called “Xavion,” the VP-400 is available for iPhone and iPad! Running Xavion on an iPad or iPhone any pilot in any airplane, whether certified or not, can realize many of the benefits of the VP-400, including backup attitude and synthetic vision display.
Lin Hough with his Lancair-IV.
Richard, a flight instructor and former airline pilot, was flying his Cherokee 140 in instrument conditions when his mechanical attitude gyro tumbled. Mounted to the Cherokee’s panel was Richard’s iPhone displaying Xavion.
Richard testifies that Xavion helped him maintain control until he emerged from the clouds. He said, “A few weeks ago, my attitude gyro tumbled just after takeoff into low IMC. Xavion and the iPhone’s built in gyros were right there with me and were rock solid all the way though the layer! Now, I’ve got a brand new gyro and am happier than ever with Xavion. I also have a turn coordinator and a directional gyro, but in the instance I described, Xavion was the only direct attitude reference.”
Richard’s Cherokee 140 panel, lower left, iPhone with Xavion displayed.
Xavion, the ultimate Synthetic Vision copilot, was developed by X-Plane author Austin Meyer and is quickly becoming recognized as the ultimate iPad-based cockpit EFIS.
Xavion is also a pilot’s highway-in-the-sky solution, featuring point-to-point navigation. Simply enter the destination and desired altitude and Xavion provides easy-to-fly “hoops” to get you there. In addition, Xavion will estimate ETA and fuel burn at different altitudes while selecting the fastest or the most efficient path. And Xavion receives ADS-B weather from the iLevil and Sagetech Clarity ADS-B receivers, and displays that weather to on its’ synthetic vision system, using it to refine its guidance to airports.
You don’t have to wait until you’ve had an engine failure to see the benefits of Xavion. Marty Arant, a Laminar consultant, is cruising in his X-Plane 10.20 simulator at six thousand feet with a solid cloud deck beneath when he suddenly hears what all pilots dread, absolutely nothing. Marty is prepared: sitting next to his computer is an iPad with Xavion installed.
Marty describes Xavion: “In simple terms it’s a glass cockpit for your airplane AND for your flight simulator. It is, above all, a personal guide that can lead you to the nearest airport should you suffer an engine failure. In other words, it can literally save your life! Think about it, an engine loss at night or in instrument conditions. Although my scenario was flown in X-Plane on my desktop with a WIFI connection to my iPad running Xavion, I could have just as well been in my real Piper Cherokee 140 in the clouds.”
He adds, “Like any good copilot, Xavion is always looking out for you. It can provide weight and balance checks, and estimate fuel burn and time to your destination at various altitudes. Most important, Xavion can learn the glide characteristics of your airplane so that if you ever have an engine-out emergency it can run thousands of simulations and immediately guide you on the safest path to a nearby airport. This power-off glide is displayed as a series of hoops in 3-D that the pilot simply flies though after engine failure to arrive at the best runway at a speed, heading, and altitude appropriate for a normal power-off landing. The system can be engaged at any location, and at any speed, heading, and altitude.”
If all these features aren’t enough, Xavion checks your currency, as well! Xavion will display your flight currency by simply entering the date of your last medical, biannual flight review, or instrument proficiency check.
Xavion App runs on an iPhone-4, iPhone-5, iPadMini, or iPad to display a synthetic image of the world while flying. The overlays for speed, heading, and altitude allow a pilot to continue to fly his or her airplane safely in night or instrument conditions after complete electrical or instrument failure in the cockpit.
The scenarios above describe two potentially fatal incidences and one simulation. The actual mechanical and software failures resulted in both pilots being left without direct attitude reference while flying in instrument conditions. What would you do? You might consider loading your iPhone or iPad with Xavion, to guide you to safety when your systems fail – so you can continue to enjoy flying!
Austin Meyer, Laminar Research and X-Plane Founder
FOR INTERVIEW & PRESENTATION OPPORTUNITIES WITH AUSTIN MEYER,
Judy Rice, Media Relations Consultant
JUDITH A. RICE, Through-out her life, Rice has had a passion for aviation and aerospace technology. This interest and sixteen years in formal education eventually brought her into the field of aerospace education. She values the experience gained as a teacher in special education because it gave her a broad knowledge of the learning process. She holds a commercial pilot certificate with an instrument rating, and is an advanced ground instructor and certified flight instructor ratings. She is the proud owner of a Grumman AA1A Yankee. Her goal is to share her passion for aviation and education by connecting classrooms through-out the world during her upcoming world flight, Think Global Flight.org