Home > Aspen installation, Flying > First flight (part 2)

First flight (part 2)

Before I knew it we were out in the airplane doing the pre-flight. In addition to the Aspen installation I had Santa Fe Aero make some changes to the throttle quadrant and cable as well as eliminating a noise associated with aileron movement, so I was very careful about the pre-flight checking all flight control and throttle/prop and mixture movements with even more attention than the normal thorough check I make before every flight. After completing the pre-flight the big moment came. I powered up the airplane and the Aspen system. Immediately the display came alive and we were checking all of the necessary systems.

I had spent some time thinking about how I was going to use the three display system.  I configured the system with the normal PFD with weather and traffic activated under the HSI. I set the MFD 1000 in a three tile configuration having the attitude/altitude/airspeed in the upper left hand corner, traffic in the right hand corner and nav map in the lower half of the display with terrain turned on. Santa Fe has a lot of mountains and terrain around the airport and the display of this was more than comforting. On the MFD 500 I configured it for an entire display of the nav map with weather turned on. While there wasn’t any weather in the immediate area there was weather around the surrounding mountains that were clearly identified on the display. I also had traffic overlay on the nav map turned on.

After finishing the checkout and getting clearance from the Santa Fe tower we taxied out to the run up area. Everything looked very good and after run-up positioned for takeoff. A quick check of the instruments and we were off. Just prior to pushing power forward for take-off I glanced at the display to see the aircraft in the pattern clearly displayed on my MFD’s. I thought for a moment that this was incredibly cool! As a low time pilot one of my biggest anxiety as a pilot is identifying and keeping an eye on traffic. I realized that while the Avidyne TAS does not eliminate the need for see and avoid processes it was going to be a big help in finding that traffic quicker when I am flying.

We were quickly off the ground. The temperature was around 37 degrees F and the airplane jumped off of the ground. The tower cleared us for the practice area and with the help of the nav map topography and KLN94 GPS it was easy to find and navigate within the practice area while staying out of the class D Santa Fe airspace. Since I was flying with Aspen’s chief pilot Tom Gray in the right seat, I was not only excited about the Aspen System I also wanted to make sure my flying was precise. Unfortunately I found myself having trouble holding speed and altitude through steep turns and even level flight. I had never really flown with tapes before and I was trying to “chase” both, never really getting stable in either.

Tom reassured me that after a short period of time this would become second nature. After 20 minutes in fact I found myself settling down and not doing too bad. We put the MFD 1000 into Reversion mode to compare the attitude and air data parameters. This display is really incredible. I basically have full dual redundancy with the exact display of the PFD. This is truly comforting when considering failure conditions and ability to safely transition to a back up mode without having to change my scan. During steep turns we noticed that we had a bit of lag between the MFD and PFD. Turning either way showed different characteristics. We hypothesized that this might be related to one RSM being way out on the long wings of the DA40 and the other on the fuselage. Then shortly thereafter we got a crosscheck attitude display on the PFD. We took note of the conditions and continued on. After completion of the turns we headed to Albuquerque Sunport to fly an ILS approach. We configured the system to provide a half traffic and half nav map on the MFD500 so we would have a larger look at traffic coming into the busy class C airspace.

Displays during first flight

Categories: Aspen installation, Flying
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