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Speaker: Avionics improvements make airplanes safer, more reliable

Avionics in the cockpits of single-engine aircraft and business jets have come a long way.

They’ve moved from conventional round mechanical gauges to display technology, which give traditional heading and attitude information but add weather, moving maps, terrain avoidance and a bevy of other information at a pilot’s fingertips.

They’re much more safe and reliable, Phil Straub, vice president and managing director of Garmin’s aviation division, said after speaking to the Wichita Aero Club’s luncheon today.

Since joining Olathe-based Garmin,  in 1993 Straub has helped in the development of  Garmin’s core aviation products, including embedded software development and certification flight testing.  Straub currently oversees all Garmin’s global aviation business activities, including engineering, marketing, sales, flight operations, and aviation customer support.

Today’s avionics move from making the pilot remember where to  find the information on a screen to being more intuitive, Straub said, and using touch-screen interfacing to do it.

It’s moving from “line selection to something much more graphically” presented, Straub said after the presentation.

The data is shared among systems as well, Straub said.

In the future, avionics will provide even more safety in the cockpit by limiting how much a pilot could overbank or otherwise have loss of control.

For example, when a plane reaches a certain bank limit, the plane would return to a safe envelope.

It may be years in the future, however, before the advent of pilotless airplanes, he said.