My Dream Aviation Gadget

I was thinking about this last night while driving home from Ottawa. I would have been flying home, except there was a thunderstorm cell parked right over Rochester that is still here this morning.

What I want is something about the size of a book of approach plates that combines a moving map GPS, Airborne weather station, approach plate viewer, timer, and checklist. All this functionality is currently available on iPaq PDAs with Anywhere Map and such, but the screen is too small. It’s available for laptops with WxWorx, but laptops are generally too large and too clunky. The device needs to fit on a yoke mount right where I currently mount either my Garmin 195 or the current approach plate.

The Garmin GPSMAP 296 looks nearly the ideal size, but of course it doesn’t have weather or approach plates or checklists. I bet it wouldn’t be too hard for Garmin to add such functionality, since they’ve really beefed up the processing and RAM in the 296 versus my 195.

It’s too bad that the new high resolution approach plates available from NACO aren’t georeferenced, because it would be cool if this mythical beast could switch between an en-route or sectional chart view to showing where your airplane was on the approach procedure. I think JeppView plates are georeferenced, though.

Of course the other issue here is cost. I’m betting that in order to get all this functionality, it’s going to cost much more than a standard laptop, and with that form factor that I’m looking for, would be less than useful as a standard laptop. Oh well.