Editor's Log

February 2009 Issue

What You Wish For

There is some really neat technology available on the general aviation market today, including some stuff that wasn’t dreamed of a few short years ago. Even if it took a while, the microprocessor revolution finally made it to the average GA cockpit and, along with satellite-based broadcasting, has revolutionized the way we fly. One of the industry’s success stories is the near real-time weather data available in the cockpit from sources such as XM Radio and WSI: Even some airline cockpits don’t have this stuff. Garmin and others have helped along this "revolution" by marketing innovative products incorporating datalink capability and sold them by the thousands. Unfortunately, customer support—along with realization of how indispensable this data stream has become to operators and a concomitant corporate responsibility—haven’t followed. These failures on the part of Garmin and XM were borne out in early January when an apparent programming glitch blanked weather-data screens throughout the U.S. Literally overnight, thousands of Garmin-brand GPS navigators subscribed to XM Weather were unable to download data. To the extent anyone could get an answer for a few days, Garmin blamed XM and XM blamed Garmin. The lack of information from either of the two companies was stunning, especially given the ways in which these products are used.

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