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Traffic information, once considered available only from expensive, installed systems, is now appearing in a growing number of aircraft. If sales figures are an indicator, the PCAS™ (Portable Collision Avoidance Systems) MRX is quickly becoming a tool of necessity for pilots, providing information needed to keep from bumping into someone in increasingly crowded skies.
PCAS systems, such as the $549 MRX model, may look small, but improvements in RF technology and detection algorithms enable the tiny unit to scan and deliver traffic out to five miles in range. MRX is portable, powered by two "AA" batteries or from aircraft power, allowing pilots to take the unit from aircraft to aircraft. "Portability is an important new feature of collision avoidance devices. In addition to reducing the price to a tenth of traditional installed collision avoidance systems, pilots now have the ability to take their systems with them." With a similar setup as a PDA or GPS, PCAS systems set atop the glareshield and receive traffic information from interrogated transponders. When asked about coverage, Zaon replied "with over 98% of aircraft operating with an operating transponder in high density areas, and nearly 100% of the US in ground RADAR or TCAS-interrogation coverage, it is nearly impossible to fly in an area where traffic information is not available to our system." Other systems rely on service-based coverage, which is available only in a shrinking number of high-traffic centers.
At 2.5" (65mm) W x 4.2" (107mm) D x 0.6" (17mm) H, MRX the world’s smallest collision avoidance device, smaller than a deck of cards. MRX displays range and relative altitude of the closest threat, with continuous monitoring of the top 10 threats within the 5 NM scalable detection window. Altitude detection is scalable up to +/- 5000 ft. MRX uses an easy menu-driven interface and audio annunciations for traffic advisories and alerts, which keeps the pilot’s focus on flying, not pushing more buttons. The unit incorporates a built in solid-state altimeter for "always relative" altitude information. Information is displayed on the sunlight-readable LED display. MRX also monitors aircraft bus voltage and host transponder output. The unit is powered by aircraft power (12-40 VDC adapter included) or 2 "AA" Batteries (with 8+ hours of use).
A quick scan across the message boards reveals that a growing number of pilots are using PCAS as a supplement to the "see and avoid" concept the FAA has been preaching for years. According to AOPA’s Air Safety Foundation, "Collision avoidance is one of the most basic responsibilities of a pilot flying in visual conditions." Zaon couldn’t agree more. "With more technology and devices in the cockpit than ever before, cockpit management has become an important safety issue. PCAS is designed to be used as an aid to the pilot’s scan. It’s important that pilots use their technology efficiently, and adding traffic awareness to the mix helps adds an essential peace of mind." Whether you fly in a crowded area or on more relaxed cross-countries, PCAS can provide important traffic alters and advisories. Zaon added, "MRX provides a traffic solution every pilot can afford without sacrificing features or accuracy; there is no reason why any pilot should fly without PCAS."
PCAS systems, such as the MRX, are available at most pilot shops and avionics shops, or direct from Zaon at www.zaon.aero.
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