REDMOND, Ore. — A Lancair IV-P without a functioning autopilot entered the clouds, leaving the two people on board depending on their two EFIS displays for aircraft control. Both EFIS displays suddenly went blank, giving new meaning to the term “blue screen of death.”
But no accident occurred.
Owner and pilot Lin Hough had just entered IMC at 17,000 feet when both displays went completely blank. The Xavion VP-400 backup display “performed perfectly,” allowing Lin to continue his flight safely.
“The VP-400 mounted in my Lancair rolled right into action,” he said. “I was almost level at 19,000 feet when my displays came back. I didn’t have a functioning autopilot, which added to the intensity of the moment. The outcome without the VP-400 might not have been survivable.“
The VP-400 is a backup avionics display that is installed in experimental aircraft. With its own GPS and AHRS sensors, the VP-400 provides synthetic vision, airspeed, and altitude displays, and uses a primitive artificial intelligence to guide pilots to the best airport at which to land in the event of engine failure.
Called Xavion, the VP-400 is available for iPhone and iPad. Running Xavion on an iPad or iPhone, any pilot in any airplane (certified or not) can realize many of the benefits of the VP-400, including backup attitude and synthetic vision display, according to company officials.
Xavion was developed by X-Plane creator Austin Meyer. It is also a pilot’s highway-in-the-sky solution, featuring point-to-point navigation, he noted. Enter the destination and desired altitude and Xavion provides “hoops” to get you there. In addition, Xavion will estimate ETA and fuel burn at different altitudes while selecting the fastest or the most efficient path. Xavion receives ADS-B weather from the iLevil and Sagetech Clarity ADS-B receivers, and displays that weather on its synthetic vision system and uses it to refine its guidance to airports.
Xavion is an app that runs on an iPhone-4, iPhone-5, iPadMini, or iPad to display a synthetic image of the world while flying. The overlays for speed, heading, and altitude allow a pilot to continue to fly his or her airplane safely in night or instrument conditions after complete electrical or instrument failure in the cockpit.