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IGC Approved Secure Flight Recorders - Part 2

This page gives a description of the the LX Colibri and the EW.

SFR1 - Introduction to SFRs

This Page - SFR 2 - LX Navigation Colibri and EW Models A, B & C

SFR 3 - Volkslogger and Cambridge GPS/NAV

SFR 4 - Peschges VP8 & Filser LX5000IGC/DX50IGC

SFR 5 - Cambridge 302/302A and LX7000 IGC Pro

SFR 6 - Comparison of current SFRs

The LX Navigation COLIBRI

The Colibri is designed by LX Navigation in Slovenia and marketed in UK by LX Avionics Ltd.  The unit is a small rectangular metal case size 97 x 58 x 34mm and weighs about 210 gms.  On the top face is a 30 x 14mm LCD displaying two lines each of 8 alpha/numeric characters and under the display are seven buttons arranged in a matrix.  On the end are two connectors, one is a standard BNC connector for the antenna and the other is six way RJ11 telephone type connector.  The integral GPS is an 11 channel unit.  The unit incorporates a microphone to record engine noise when used in a turbo or motor glider while a remote LED (not supplied) can be connected to verify that the unit is logging correctly.  The internal barograph operates up to 30,000 ft and is supplied with a calibration certificate.

[Colibri SFR] border= Power (7 - 16v) is connected by means of the supplied cable being plugged into the RJ11 receptacle and the unit consumes some 100 ma. There is no On/Off switch and the logger starts its initiation sequence once power is connected.  The supplied antenna can then be connected and without further user input, the unit can be left to record the flight details at the default fixing rate of 12 seconds with a fast fix rate of 2 seconds.  The user can select the normal fixing rate, the fast fixing rate, the number of fixes at the fast rate and the radius from the TP sector within which fast rate fixing occurs.  The memory capacity at a 10 second rate is 83 hours and the memory rolls over when full.

The unit can hold data for up to 3000 airports, 600 turn points and 100 tasks, all of which can be programmed by the user. By use of the keyboard and LCD, many different functions can be programmed, including selection of units, en-route fixing rates, near turn point fixing rates, selection of 'beer can' or FAI turn point sectors, entry of pilot and glider details, and task declaration.

If a task has been entered, then the unit will display basic navigation parameters to guide the pilot to the turn point and give a series of audio beeps when the glider is within the defined turn point sector, either cylindrical or FAI sector depending on which has been selected.  It will also display a GPS calculated wind vector at any time by a simple button press.  After flight, a wide range of task statistics are available from the unit.   The flight records can be transferred to a computer using the supplied computer interface lead and software when it will produce the standard secure .IGC file for task confirmation and analysis.

The Colibri is a small, well designed, cost effective unit that performs well.  It is capable of producing a wide range of flight information if required.  If it is not used for navigation, then the audio warning to denote logging in the turn point sector should be programmed to ensure that the glider has actually entered the sector as determined by the FR.

The EW Avionics IGC Flight Recorder

The EW unit, which is available in three versions; Models A, B and C, started life as one of the first electronic barographs. The only difference between the three models is the maximum height that can be recorded; Model A goes to 10km, B to 12kms and Model C to 15kms. While early models were simply an electronic barograph, later models acquired a simple GPS logging capability and finally were upgraded and approved to IGC status. The latest IGC approved models are physically identical to the earlier units but the IGC approved units can be identified by the silver seal on the bottom edge of the unit. The EW units are unique in that they do not have an integral GPS engine and are coupled by an external cable to an approved 'off the shelf' (OTS) Garmin GPS unit.

The EW unit is a black ABS moulded case 150 x 80 x 30mm and weighs 225 gms. On the top surface is a LCD above a 16 key numeric membrane keyboard. The unit is powered by an internal PP3 9v battery which has a life of approximately 300 hours. At the top end of the unit is a 9 pin D connector that interfaces to the GPS, engine operation switch and fast sample switch.

The unit is coupled to an approved GPS by a cable (not supplied) and the GPS has to be configured to produce a NMEA output with the WGS84 map datum set. On powering up the unit, after an initialisation sequence, the display will show the barometric height in metres and when the GPS is connected, the display will briefly indicate correct connection. A flashing red LED at the side of the display indicates it is recording but there is no positive indication that it is receiving the positional information from the GPS correctly, other that the initial short message.

The default fixing rate is 12 seconds which can be changed during the initialisation sequence. At fixing rates of 12 seconds and over, the fast fixing rate is every six seconds; at fixing rates faster than 12 seconds, the fast rate is half the normal rate. When selected, the fast rate is maintained for 2 minutes. With a fixing rate of 10 seconds selected and no use is made of the fast fix capability, the total memory is 9 hours. When the memory is full, it automatically deletes and overwrites previous flights but once the memory is full on the current flight, recording will stop.

Engine operation is recorded by an external switch (not supplied) which is operated by the engine pylon or engine door extension. A tag is placed on the trace every time the switch is operated. If the switch is disabled or the cable is disconnected during flight, the unit will record that the engine has been operated.

As there is no capability of loading tasks or turn points into the unit, it is not possible to make an electronic task declaration.

The EW works well in conventional gliders providing the OTS GPS unit is a late model Garmin. Care should be taken not to activate the fast fixing too often as some pilots have run out of memory on long flights. When used with a motor glider or turbo, IGC procedures require that the system is validated both before and after flight by an OO. Furthermore, after the flight all systems must be left running until inspected by the OO. These requirements detract from the use of the EW in a motor glider or turbo.

After flight, the data can be transferred to a PC using the supplied cable and a secure .IGC file produced. A trial version of analysis software, EWView, is provided with the unit but there is an extra charge for this to be fully implemented.