Back-up Flight Instrumentation


Whether it’s an OEM integrated glass cockpit or aftermarket retrofit PFD, you’ll still need backup flight instruments should your primary flight display were to fail. The common solution is to retain traditional, round-gauge instruments for backup, but a new market of all-in-one backup flight instruments is evolving, which saves panel space and improves ergonomics. Moreover, an all-in-one backup display nearly eliminates the dreaded partial-panel scan.

In jet cockpits, the face of the backup flight instrument has changed from analogue to digital. But an emerging market of all-in-one electronic backups, which are suitable for retrofit in smaller cockpits, has made jet-cockpit backup instrumentation affordable for the rest of us.

One new model, the MD302 Standby Instrument Module, comes from Mid Continent Instruments and is the result of the companies experience building instruments for both OEM and aftermarket, including high-end transport applications. The digital SAM picks up where the proven mechanical LifeSaver series electric horizon gyro left off. The MD302 has a high-end feel and seems well matched for turboprop and light jet panels, although it’s aimed at the piston market, as well—evident by its ability to play with 14-volt electrical systems. At 2.3 inches high and 5.5 inches wide, the four-in-one instrument is compact enough for tight panels, with dual 2-inch displays and a single push-and-turn function knob for navigating menu screens.

Screen quality is brilliant with its bright, high-resolution LCD display, which is visible at wide viewing angles. It also has an installer-configurable data orientation called AnyWay. This configures the displays in either a vertical or horizontal configuration, allowing for a more versatile panel installation. Speaking of installation, the system uses input from the aircraft’s existing pitot and static system and requires simple electrical connections for ships power.

SAM is a certified replacement for all traditional backup flight instruments, including attitude, airspeed and altimeter. The unit uses an internal lithium-ion backup battery for powering the unit for over an hour, in case of electrical failure. The SAM is priced at $10600 and is available now. For more information on installing an all-in-one EFIS backup in your glass panel aircraft, speak with an EXXEL retrofit professional.

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