Top aviation tech for 2022

Avatar for Annie VogelBy Annie Vogel | May 18, 2022

Estimated reading time 17 minutes, 36 seconds.

As aviation continues to progress with regard to technology, Skies has rounded up some of the top new aviation tech that you might have missed.

ForeFlight – Hazard Advisor Altitude Preview

Planning flights around terrain just got easier with a major upgrade to ForeFlight’s Hazard Advisor. Pro Plus subscribers can use the new feature to find the safest route around hazardous terrain at different altitudes before or during flight. It includes an altitude preview function, allowing pilots to plot a path around high terrain before and during a flight and see how different altitudes affect terrain clearance.

Users are able to manually control the altitude using a slider, which ranges from 100 feet to 30,000 ft MSL. Hazard Advisor highlights hazardous terrain and obstacles within 1,000 ft of your aircraft’s GPS altitude.

Price: Pro Plus subscription $312*/year CDN

Check it out here:

uAvionix – tailBeacon

uAvionix’s tailBeacon adds ADS-B Out to your certified or experimental aircraft.

Years ago, the FAA mandated that all commercial aircraft and aircraft flying in Class A, B, and C airspace would need to be equipped with transponders having ADS-B Out capability by 2020. The upgrade expense alone was enough to cause pilots and operators in Canada to rethink their trips down south. And in early 2022, Nav Canada proposed a similar ADS-B Out mandate in Canadian controlled airspace.

Enter uAvionix, a U.S.-based avionics company focused on providing solutions for the UAS/UAV and general aviation markets. They have come up with a cost effective solution for both commercial and general aviation aircraft. The company’s tailBeacon works with any existing Mode C Transponder and allows the transcoder technology to seamlessly communicate with your existing legacy transponder over your aircraft’s electrical system. The technology is easy to install and can be purchased at the digestible price point of US$1,999.

Adding ADS-B Out to your aircraft using the uAvionix system also gets you a new tail light, with a two-times brighter LED nav light at a fraction of the power consumption. If the price didn’t get your attention, then you might also want to know that installation is made easy with the uAvionix app guides, taking your installer through the steps to set the necessary values including the ICAO address, emitter type, aircraft length, width, and GPS offsets. tailBeacon has been optimized for installation in less than one hour, including documentation.

Price: US$1,999 / C$2,719

Check it out here:

Garmin – inReach Mini 2

Garmin inReach Mini 2.

The original Garmin inReach Mini quickly became a cockpit essential since its release in 2018. Now, Garmin has released the newly updated inReach Mini 2. The device boasts a battery life of up to 30 days — a huge leap from its predecessor. The second exciting feature added to the Mini 2 is TracBack routing, a tool that helps you find your way back if you happen to get lost.

A small, yet versatile, tool, the Mini 2 allows you to send interactive SOS messages to the Garmin coordination center in an emergency situation, as well as send text messages to loved ones in hard-to-reach places. In addition, it lets you keep track of the weather, with detailed weather updates on the inReach Mini 2 or a paired compatible device. You can even request forecasts for your current location or other waypoints or destinations on your itinerary.

“Moments of communication can become critical on any adventure, and the best plan is to always be prepared,” said Dan Bartel, Garmin vice president of global consumer sales. “That is why Garmin satellite communicators, like inReach Mini 2, have become trusted tools for anyone who ventures outdoors.” 

Subscription plans are available for as little as US$11.95 per month.

Price: US$399.99 / C$529.99

Check it out here:

Vrgineers – XTAL 3 Mixed Reality Headset

The XTAL 3 offers an extended field of view: 180° horizontal and 90° vertical, which is currently the widest visual field on the market for professional simulations.

Vrgineers, a leader in delivering virtual and mixed reality pilot training systems for professional and military clients, launched at CES this year the XTAL 3 Mixed Reality Headset. The company is calling it a game changer in pilot training.

Vrgineers has unleashed the potential of virtual reality simulations and is paving the way for the next generation of mixed reality pilot trainers. Trainees and cadets can learn their way around an aircraft’s avionics in the most realistic (simulated) scenario available, as the XTAL 3 offers the most true-to-life experiences with the first-ever pilot-dedicated headset on the market.

The XTAL 3 is available in mixed reality and virtual reality form. The XTAL 3 Mixed Reality offers an extended field of view of 180° horizontal and 90° vertical — currently the widest visual field on the market for professional simulations. The XTAL 3 Virtual Reality offers extremely high fidelity, 8K resolution, and a 180° field of view.

The XTAL 3 VR/MR headsets were “designed in cooperation with an international group of Air Force pilots to fulfill professional expectations,” the company said.

“We can assure all our clients that the XTAL 3 will be compatible with all existing and future technologies they might need while maintaining the highest levels of comfort and convenience,” said Vrgineers CEO and co-founder Marek Polcak.

The headset frame is made of lightweight compounds, ensuring comfort and avoiding neck tension during mission training.

Price: XTAL 3 Virtual Reality – US$8,900 ; XTAL 3 Mixed Reality – US$11,500

Check them out here:

Garmin – D2 Air X10 

Gamin D2 Air X10.

Exciting news for Garmin lovers. The Garmin D2 Air X10 is now available and it’s taking the word “smartwatch” to a new level. It’s the entry-level price point to the Garmin aviation watch family, but it still gets you many of the features found on the coveted D2 Mach 1. With direct-to navigation, an oxygen level reader, HSI course needle, barometric altimeter, and more, the features list is long for this seemingly small aviation tool. Navigate direct-to nearby airports, and see airport and runway information while automatically logging flights.

When getting ready for a flight, is there anything better than the convenience of making calls from your wrist? Nope! And all you have to do is pair your D2 Air X10 with your compatible smartphone. The D2 Air X10 also has health and fitness features like hydration tracking and respiration tracking to help you stay on top of you wellness. Moreover, this new smartwatch offers airport weather for preflight awareness, a bright AMOLED display, and up to seven days of battery life.

“Not only does the D2 Air X10 offer built-in aviation tools for every phase of flight, it’s the first aviator smartwatch with convenient on-device calling and voice assistant features to keep up with your life on the go,” said Carl Wolf, Garmin vice president of aviation sales and marketing.

Its sleek and contemporary design make it the perfect accessory to your aviation adventures. 

Price: US$549.99 / C$729.95

Check it out here:

FreeFlight Systems – Terrain Series radar altimeters

The FreeFlight Terrain series aims to provide operators with future-proof radar altimeters that are resistant to 5G interference.

5G network interference with aircraft radar altimeters has been a hot topic in the aviation community for a while now. So, FreeFlight Systems has developed a product to help reduce the risk of such interference. The company has released a new series of radar altimeters designed to mitigate potential interference from 5G networks. FreeFlight’s Terrain Series radar altimeters offer the first major upgrade to RF circuitry in decades — built from the ground up to mitigate 5G interference.

Designed for easy single (RA 5500) or dual (RA 6500) installation on business, regional, airline transport, and rotary-wing aircraft platforms, the Terrain Series RA 5500 and RA 6500 provide enhanced features like digital signal processing technology, and also operate in higher altitudes across a wider temperature range.

“Not only does the Terrain Series have the hardware and software changes to mitigate the 5G interference, but they’re designed specifically to be extremely robust and reliable for all of those different markets that a radar altimeter is required for,” said Ashley Ring, VP of sales and marketing at FreeFlight.

The Terrain Series radar altimeters are ideal for those looking to upgrade from current RA 4000/4500 series radar altimeters with ease. Utilize existing antennas, display indicators, and cabling as needed.

Check it out here:

Garmin – D2 Mach 1

Garmin D2 Mach 1 aviator smartwatch with vented titanium bracelet.

The Garmin D2 watch really changed the game with regard to wearable technology on the flight deck. Its user-friendly interface matched with dynamic color mapping and flight planning quickly made it the most requested gift for aviators around the world.

This year, Garmin had a huge surprise for the industry: the release of not one, but two new aviation watches — the D2 Mach 1 and the D2 Air X10. The D2 Mach 1 includes all the features you loved from its predecessor, the D2 Delta, plus multi-GNSS support, vivid AMOLED touchscreen display, extended battery range of 11 days, inReach device connectivity, and more.

A feature called  “Body Battery Energy Monitoring” shows users how “charged” their body is, as well as the draining effects of stress and exercise. During a flying activity, pilots can quickly access the health stats menu to track their heart rate, Pulse Ox, respiration, Body Battery, and more.

Direct-to navigation lets pilots navigate straight to an airport or waypoint in the preloaded worldwide aeronautical database directly from the watch, or choose the “Nearest” function to activate a direct course to a nearby airport.

“Whether you’re climbing into the cockpit for a fun weekend flight, practicing or shooting instrument approaches to minimums, or flying professionally, the new D2 Mach 1 delivers the latest and most advanced aviation functionality and smartwatch capabilities right to your fingertips,” said Carl Wolf, Garmin vice president of aviation sales and marketing. The Garmin D2 Mach 1 pushes the bounds of information from your wrist. 

Price: US$1299.99 / C$1695.57

Check it out here:

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