Contributing editor MICHAEL LEIGHTON reviews AeroVonics’ new MFD and shares his interview with one of the company’s owners.
In 2016, the FAA established a new certification process called NORSEE. That stands for Non-Required Safety Enhancing Equipment. Since that time, several companies have availed themselves of this process that allows aircraft owners to permanently install things like carbon monoxide detectors, USB power receptacles and sun visors in our certificated GA aircraft with a simple logbook entry from an A&P.
Fast forward to EAA AirVenture Oshkosh 2018. While walking through the exhibit halls, I came across a company called AeroVonics that was displaying a new digital replacement for attitude and directional gyros called the AV-30.
The virtues of all-electric, solid-state, no-moving-parts, no-vacuum-required devices are well-documented. Garmin’s G5 attitude indicator and G5 HSI have proven the market exists for these products.
While standing at the AeroVonics booth last summer, I also saw its MFD product called the AV-20-S. This little 2-inch instrument, besides being a backup attitude gyro, provides nearly a dozen other functions. For less than $900 (currently listed at $795—a price the company plans to extended through EAA AirVenture 2019), the AV-20-S device has a stand-alone AOA, a G-meter, slip/skid (ball) indicator, an outside air temperature (OAT) gauge, a bus voltage display, two timers (engine run and flight time), a density altitude display and a true airspeed display. On top of that, the AV-20-S has its own battery backup in the event of total loss of electrical power.
(The AV-20-S requires additional inputs and has more functions than the base AV-20 [$499]. See a feature comparison below. —Ed.)
The AV-20 is menu-driven, and it isn’t complicated to calibrate and customize the display for your aircraft. You can set the alert features to your liking; both visual and audio.
I installed an AeroVonics AV-20-S on one of the aircraft that I use to teach upset recovery training. The AOA and the G-meter give valuable insight to the pilot as to the aircraft’s attitude in relation to the stall, and the audio and visual warnings are representative of what my students will encounter when they move on in their aviation careers.
After two test flights, I had the AV-20-S dialed in to do what I wanted—and I was truly impressed. But I needed a little extra help first.
After the first flight, I contacted the company to get some basic setup information that I could not find on their excellent website. I got a call back from one of the owners, Bill Shuert, who walked me through the setup step I missed.
While I had him on the phone, I asked Shuert a few questions I thought Cessna Flyer readers would be interested in. Here is our conversation.
ML: What is the most-asked question from prospective buyers regarding the AV-20?
BS: Well, the most common question on the AV-20 is about NORSEE. It’s relatively new, and most owners—and even some mechanics—don’t understand it. We include a copy of the authorization letter from the FAA with each order, and it is also published on the web. (See Resources for the link. —Ed.)
NORSEE authorizes the install by an A&P with a logbook endorsement only. No FAA Form 337 or STC is required.
If your A&P isn’t sure about something, just have him or her call me, and I’ll be happy to walk them through it.
ML: So, then, these units are certified?
BS: Yes, the AV-20 is certified under NORSEE, which allows for installation in addition to existing required equipment, but that unit does not meet the regulatory requirements for a primary or required backup instrument.
The AeroVonics AV-30 [a 3-inch primary flight display] will be certified for primary use and will most likely be TSO-certified with a follow-on AML-STC for future autopilot integration applications.
ML: What else are prospective buyers interested in?
BS: The next big topic is functionality of the unit and how it interfaces with other aircraft systems.
The AV-20-S does 12 things. To enable full functionality on the AV-20-S, you’ll need to hook up pitot and static inputs, and an OAT probe. The density altitude, true airspeed, and OAT features require an OAT probe you buy separately. The OAT probe is made by Davtron. You can also hook the AV-20-S up to your audio panel for audio alerts.
The AOA on the AV-20-S is totally self-contained and doesn’t require an external probe or sensor, though it does use air data from the pitot and static inputs. (See link in Resources for AeroVonics’ description of the AOA system. —Ed.)
The base model AV-20 is a simpler install because it has fewer features (see table on Page 45), and does not have the ability to connect to pitot and static inputs. The AV-20 can be connected to an OAT probe and to your audio panel.
ML: Some Cessna Flyer readers will want to know where your products are made. Where are AeroVonics’ products manufactured?
BS: We make everything right here in Albuquerque, New Mexico; except for the screens, which come from China, only because no manufacturer here in the U.S. makes them. We manufacture in lots of 50, so we always have units in stock.
ML: What about warranty?
BS: We support our products with a full two-year warranty, including the labor required to remove and reinstall if required.
ML: And customer support?
BS: Well, right now we are a two-man company—and you are talking to half of them! Let your readers know that they can contact us through our website and we will call you back ASAP.
ML: Will AeroVonics be at EAA AirVenture Oshkosh in July 2019?
BS: Yes, we will. I don’t know the booth number yet, but let your members know we will be there and ask them to please stop by and check out the AV-20 and the new AV-30 PFD.
We have gotten tremendous response to the AV-30 and we are actually taking preproduction orders for the STC’d version. The experimental version of the AV-30 is shipping now.
We are talking with the FAA and we are expecting certification of the AV-30 in the relatively near future.
So, there you have it: a small startup company taking advantage of new certification regulations to bring cool new products to the General Aviation market at an affordable price point.
I am very pleased with the AV-20-S. If I have a single complaint, it is that the need for an OAT probe to enable some of the functionality was not clear in the install package. The probe, a Davtron C307 PS, costs less than a hundred bucks and enables the OAT, true airspeed and density altitude functions on the AV-20-S.
I am looking forward to seeing AeroVonics at Oshkosh next month and checking out the progress on the AV-30.
Michael Leighton is a 12,000-hour, three-time Master Flight Instructor and an A&P mechanic. He operates a flight school in Spartanburg, South Carolina, and Fort Pierce, Florida. You can find him on the web at flymkleighton.net. Send questions or comments to .