It is no secret that pilots love gadgets, especially gadgets that improve the flight experience. To make gift giving easy, we have rounded up some of the coolest gadgets currently available for pilots. Whether you want to help your favorite pilot upgrade their aircraft or improve their communication capabilities, these high-tech gadgets are sure to do the trick.
1. uAvionix ADS-B Out tailBeacon and SkyBeacon
The FAA’s ADS-B requirements went into effect on January 1st, 2020, making a functional ADS-B out device mandatory in designated ADS-B airspace. If you know a pilot who still needs to upgrade their aircraft so they can fly in this space, two of the quickest, easiest, and most cost-effective ways to meet that requirement are by installing either the uAvionix ADS-B Out tailBeacon or SkyBeacon. The devices are similar other than their aircraft installation location. The tailBeacon of course is installed on the tail, while the SkyBeacon is placed on the wingtip. The beauty of both devices is that pilots can easily install them themselves since they simply replace original navigation lights.
The Garmin aera 760 GPS has a rugged design built with cockpit use in mind. Its 7-inch size is just right for a dedicated portable GPS, and the bright touchscreen display is readable even in sunlight. View your charts along with instrument approach procedures and approach chart overlays. The aera 760 is charged via a USB-C cable and can run for up to four hours on a charge. A microSD card slot allows you to transfer user waypoints between devices and to load topography and street maps.
Stay in touch no matter where you travel with an inReach Mini. This small satellite device not only allows you to send and receive text messages, but it also lets you track and share your journey. If necessary, you can activate an SOS alert function that notifies a 24/7 emergency response team of your need for assistance. The mini’s small, palm-sized design makes it easy to carry with you both in flight and for your ground-based adventures like hiking or backwoods camping.
It is important to have a handheld radio backup to your aircraft’s built-in radio, and Yaesu has several quality models to choose from. The communications-only Yaesu FTA-450L covers the basics at a competitive price. Users can pre-program up to 200 channels including those in the 8.33 kHz narrow band.
Pilots who are looking for a nav/com combo can select from two versions of the FTA-550. This model is available with either a Li-Ion battery or a lower priced AA battery option. Both versions have a 1.7” x 1.7” full dot matrix LCD screen and VOR navigation capabilities along with ILS localizer navigation and NOAA weather channels and alerts.
The top-end Yaesu handheld is the FTA-750L. This model has the same screen, COM/NAV capabilities, NOAA channels, VOR, and ILS functions as the FTA-550. The upgrade is the 66-channel GPS WAAS receiver function that makes the FTA-750L truly an all-in-one communication and navigation system.
Get all of your current weather and traffic information relayed to you thanks to a Dual XGPS190 unit. This device is compatible with a variety of EFB apps running on Android, Apple, and Windows tablets. Two devices can connect to the XGPS190 at the same time, so both pilot and copilot can work simultaneously. The small size and easy portability allow you take your XGPS190 with you for ground-based activities like golfing and land navigation. One charge gets you five hours of use before you need to recharge.
The Bose A20 aviation headset is the premium choice for pilots seeking the ultimate in comfort and clear communication. Electric noise cancellation (ENC) keeps ambient cockpit noise from interfering with sound quality, as does the flex-boom noise canceling electret mic. Ultra-plush head pads and a headband with 1/3 less clamping force than industry standard team up to provide long-term wearability and comfort.
Bose offers plenty of configurations and plug options depending on your aircraft and preference for battery power or aircraft power setups. The A20 also comes with or without Bluetooth functionality to fit your needs and desired usage. Use the Priority Switching feature to customize your audio reception preferences for music, phone, and intercom.
A quality flight computer makes the calculations involved with flight planning so much easier. The CX-3 is authorized for use on both FAA and Canadian knowledge exams. It supports calculator, clock, timer, and stopwatch functions with setting options for backlighting, scrolling speed, day and night themes, and time zones. Use your CX-3 to make weight and balance, climb and descent, time, speed, heading, distance, altitude, wind, and fuel calculations. While in dusk or night themes, the keypad buttons will light up and the screen will be dimmed for ease of use. The Favorite feature is another valuable tool, allowing you store your most recently used functions and to create and save an aircraft profile with your aircraft-specific numbers.
8. uAvionix AV-30-C
The certified version of uAvionix’s AV-30 gauge brings digital precision to your cockpit displays. The AV-30-C offers a straightforward retrofit of your legacy vacuum instruments with a new customizable display gauge that fits directly into the existing 3” panel slot where the original gauge was housed.
Unlike a standard dedicated gauge function, a single AV-30-C gauge supports fourteen different functions including primary direction indication, primary attitude, primary slip, probeless angle of attack, indicated airspeed, altitude/vertical trend, and more. The angle of attack data is obtained without the use of a probe, and is calculated based on the aircraft pitch, flight path, and G-loading information.