Are your Ready for This?

Cessna Introduces Revolutionary Glass Panel

by Pat Redmond

It's almost impossible to keep up with changes in technology and in today' s aircraft the changes are no exception. Just about every aircraft manufacturer has announced new and exciting improvments that all speak to increased safety and situational awareness. In case you've missed the news at Cessna, let me bring you up to date.

First, a bit of history:


Radiotelephone (two way voice radio) systems have been installed in aircraft since before World War II, and have been widely used for mission coordination and air traffic control. Early systems used vacuum tubes, and because of their weight and size, were installed out of the way with only a control head in place in the flight deck. Standardization on VHF frequences occurred shortly after World War II, and transistor radio systems replaced the tube-based systems shortly afterward. Only minor changes have been made to these systems since 1960s.

The earliest navigation systems required the pilot or navigator to wear headphones and listen to the relative volume of tones in each ear to determine which way to steer on course. Later, navigation systems developed along three separate paths:

Non-Directional Radiobeacon

The NDB (non-directional radiobeacon) was the first electronic navigation system in widespread use. The original radio range stations were high-power NDBs, and followed nighttime routes previously delineated by colored light beacons. NDBs use the LF and MF bands, and are still in use today (2003) at smaller airports because of their low cost. DF (direction finder) and ADF (automatic direction finder) avionics can receive signals from these. A needle shows the pilot the relative heading toward the station compared to the centerline of the aircraft.

VHF Omni Range

The VOR system (VHF omni range) is less prone to interference from thunderstorms, and provides improved accuracy. It is the backbone of the air navigational system today (2003). VOR receivers allow the pilot to specify a radial, that is, a line extending outward from the VOR transmitter at a particular angle to magnetic north. Then, a course deviation indicator (CDI) shows the amount by which the aircraft is off the chosen course. Distance measuring equipment (DME) was added to many VOR transmitters and receivers, allowing the distance between the station and the aircraft to be shown.

Instrument Landing System

The instrument landing system (ILS) is a set of components used to navigate to the landing end of a runway. It consists of lateral guidance from a localizer, vertical guidance from a glideslope, and distance guidance from a series of marker beacons. Optional components include DME and a compass locator, the name given to an NDB placed at the start of the final approach course. For a time, LORAN systems, which provide navigational guidance over large areas, were popular particularly for general aviation use. They have declined in popularity with the commercial availability of GPS service.

And Today. . .

Imagine yourself flying a personal jet like Cessna's Mustang (available in 2006) or sitting in front of the large screen of a video game. Now open Cessna's 2004 Skylane, Turbo Skylane, Stationair and Turbo Stationair brochure.

Are you ready for this?

It's an all-glass flightdeck that presents flight instrumentation, location, navigation, communication, and identification data on large-format, high-resolution displays. The digital data presentation on the G1000 puts all flight-critical information literally at the pilot's fingertips. The system will ease pilot workload and offer a new level of safety and situational awareness during all phases of flight. Some of the numerous features of the G1000 include:

·Next generation, high bandwidth data-link weather system including NEXRAD, METARs, TAFs, lightning, and up to 14 other weather services. The system provides reception at all altitudes throughout the Continental US on the XM Radio satellite network.

·Digital audio panel/intercom with ATC playback recording as standard

·XM Satellite Radio entertainment system as standard equipment

·New Turbine-class switch panels with electro-luminescent (EL) lighting

·Simplified line replaceable units (LRU) system architecture to minimize down time

·Solid State Digital Air Data Computer to constantly calculate and display TAS, CAS, Wind Direction, VSI and TAT

The heart of the system is a solid state Attitude Heading & Reference System (AHRS) with the unique capability to align while moving, including in-flight dynamic restarts. The digital audio panel located between the PFD and MFD is matched with a dual integrated avionics system with 16-watt VHF communications radios, VOR/LOC/ILS receivers, as well as dual GPS receivers with future WAAS upgrade capability. This fully integrated system leverages Garmin's proven GNS 430/530 design architecture and hardware to provide pilots with identical operating logic on both PFD and MFD and eliminating confusing embedded menus.

No doubt, Cessna has raised the bar with its new panel for the Skylanes and Stationairs. And if that wasn't enough, Cessna's next announcement startled everyone! The introductory pricing for this NavIII panel with all of its extra features will remain at last year's price! Now it wasn't surprising that within 2 hours, Cessna had sold the entire 2004 introductory priced inventory to its dealers who, no doubt couldn't wait to return home to spread the news!

The bad news? We won't see any of these airplanes until sometime after March of next year, but it sure will be worth the wait!

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About the Author

Pat Redmond helps business owners who are tired of long lines and baggage claims, fly their way to freedom! To learn more about flying for personal transportation, sign up for FREE aircraft purchase tips at :

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