Since December 2005 I have been fortunate to be involved in Altair flight testing.
was quite straightforward once I had a mount made; all that was
required was to fasten the Altair unit to the mount using the supplied
screws and plugging in the supplied power/data cable to Vega.
A few days later I went on a gliding safari and logged about 25 hours of cross-country flying in unfamiliar areas.
display is very clear and bright even in direct sunlight and the
brightness could be reduced to about 50% when flying under clouds;
reflections were not a problem as the screen has an anti-glare coating.
The glide computer software is well laid-out and all text is
readable. Personally I would prefer the vario gauge to be less
cluttered than the default configuration and it is possible to do this
by turning off unwanted display elements in the configuration options.
really enjoyed having the large map display so prominent on the
instrument panel as it made navigation simple and I didn't have to
search the instrument panel to find information I sought.
centring was assisted with the display of the glider's trail coloured
and scaled according to lift/sink. Having the wind vector displayed
near the glider was also very useful as we were flying on several days
in strong winds (20 knots). When flying into unfamiliar airfields, a
way-point details page could be displayed showing airfield information
such as available runways, area frequencies etc. Special use airspace
is also displayed on the map and at one stage in the flight I was
warned that I had climbed briefly into controlled airspace. On one
flight when getting low I used the 'abort task' button to locate the
nearest airfields to divert to --- a very useful feature.
quite intuitive to interact with the glide computer using the buttons
on the side of the Altair unit; these buttons and their functions are
well organised and have a nice click feel.
When used with Vega,
Altair displays FLARM traffic on the screen. My setup also had digital
inputs from switches on the control stick to control zoom, drop markers
and toggle display modes and this was very convenient while flying.
no training, my glider partner was able to pick up the basics of using
Altair: after one flight he worked out the display of thermal profile,
wind vector, final glide bar, trail, and display of landable fields.
this was my initial testing of Altair, I carried a backup GPS unit but
did not use it at all. During the safari we were flying on very hot
days (40 degrees celsius), up to 13500 feet; and operating on poor
runway surfaces (experiencing lots of vibration). Altair was robust and
suffered no faults, software lockups or damage from these conditions.
Overall I can say the initial testing was a tremendous success and I am very happy with Altair.