Much of the most pleasant details of flying your own craft can be attributed to the equipment used therein.
Comfort over long flights is reliant on factors such as sound control, soft breathable chairs and storage.
Safety is reliant on a number of specialised primary aircraft systems that need to meet the high standards set by the aviation industry.
Exceptional levels of control are achieved by implementing the right cockpit controls and connecting linkages.
And all of this needs to be obtained at a rate that is affordable to pilots, regardless of their wealth or affiliation to corporations.
Unfortunately, building a cohesive ecosystem of highly specialised components that enhance the comfort, safety, control and overall experience of flying doesn’t always come at the right price, or through adequate availability to pilots; which can make meeting these desires difficult.
Fortunately, we here at Century Avionics provide a comprehensive pilot equipment shop in South Africa that can help pilots get the most possible enjoyment out of their flight hours by improving comfort, safety, convenience, control and affordability in the air.
This article serves to show you how to achieve these objectives while limiting the pain-points often felt by pilots.
We provide a number of useful concepts for you to think about that will help you to outfit your craft in such a way as to meet these objectives.
As part of this discussion, we will explore the relationship between cost and reliability when looking at craft equipment.
We will explore the perils and requirements of achieving craft safety, will explore how comfort and control can be achieved with certain on-board elements and will discuss how convenience adds to the overall pleasure of simply taking to the air.
Let’s begin with a major bugbear for most pilots; the trouble of affordability and how it relates to quality and reliability:
The Cost of Reliability
“A pilot may earn his full pay for that year in less than two minutes. At the time of the incident, he would gladly return the entire amount for the privilege of being elsewhere.” – Ernest K. Gann
The Challenge of the Right Price
Avionics is an industry that is surrounded by exceptionally high costs- wherever equipment is concerned.
For the most part, pilot supplies in South Africa are largely marketed and sold at a price that excludes massive segments of the market.
This is because they cater to corporations and the wealthy, who generally have the liquidity to invest in equipment with little prior thought.
But for the average person, dolling out no less than R5000 on an in-flight headset is something that warrants no shortage of consideration before a purchase is made; and for many pilots, such as yourself, this is a major determining factor as to whether a purchase should even be considered.
A Critical Need for Reliability
The issue of price is, unfortunately, closely related to the reliability and quality of the product bought.
Another major complaint amongst pilots, especially amateur ones or aviation enthusiasts, is that aircraft equipment is often too short-lived.
Aircraft equipment operates under very particular circumstances, which often attributes to a fairly high rate of component failure; making it a bit of a sore point when pilots need to fork out on very expensive replacements.
Balancing Price & Reliability
Of course, there are more affordable options for many types of aircraft equipment.
This might, on the face of it, seem like a strong point to pilots, but it is actually a bit of a money trap when you look at it in the long-run.
There is a reason why specialised headsets, for example, are so expensive.
They are made from high-quality materials, are built to last, and offer exceptional in-air audio quality and a range of specialised functions that cheaper ones won’t.
In such situations, it is often necessary for you to either find a balance between price and reliability or sacrifice those savings on a solution that you know will serve you for as long as you need it to.
This is true for all pilot equipment, from those that enhance safety and comfort, right through to those that simply enhance the experience of flying.
“Mistakes are inevitable in aviation, especially when one is still learning new things. The trick is to not make the mistake that will kill you.” – Stephen Coonts
As you can tell from the above quote, aircraft safety is always a concern for pilots, and there is an awful lot to consider in this regard.
Even the smallest mistakes, by the unforgiving nature of avionics, can result in dire consequences.
This is all the more important when there are passengers involved since the pilot isn’t simply responsible for their own safety, but also for those in their plane.
Common Mistakes Made in the Air
Even the most experienced pilots can make mistakes that lead to disaster, mistakes happen all of the time in the air.
The severity of these mistakes, and how well-equipped pilots are to deal with them, can make all the difference.
Here are some of the most commonly made mistakes in the air:
- Not enough time spent on pre-flight preparations due to impatience to get into the air;
- Accidents related to a lack of special and situational awareness;
- Not focusing enough on what’s going on outside of the craft;
- Opting for too much control during flight;
- Misjudging height during landings.
While it’s true that these are the types of mistakes commonly made by new or student pilots, it only takes a moment of miscalculation for them to occur, even with experienced ones.
Making Safety Simple with the Right Equipment
Fortunately, these mistakes can often be alleviated in one way or another with the use of the right equipment.
Between transceivers, antennas, navigation equipment, ELTs and automatic engine data acquisition test systems, there is a practical solution to make avoiding these mistakes, and recovering from them when you make them, easy for both novice and veteran pilots.
Improving Comfort through Control
“To most people, the sky is the limit. To those who love aviation, the sky is home.” – Jerry Crawford
For many pilots, the feeling of control while in the air is one of the most liberating experiences you can have, particularly where the comfort of the flight is concerned.
Flights can last an exceptionally long time, and remaining comfortable throughout the entire trip is an essential concern for pilots, particularly those who log extensive flight hours.
For commercial pilots, this can also be extended to the comfort offered to their customers, and in many instances, this is directly related to the amount of control that you have over your craft while it is in the air.
Achieving these levels of control requires certain components to be in place, particularly those ones that make things a lot more convenient for pilots.
Even the smallest examples of pilot equipment can make all the difference in this regard. Things like mounting brackets, GPS mounts, phone and tablet holsters and docking panels are but a few examples of how even the smallest details can make the biggest impact to comfort.
Why Comfort is Important
While comfort might feel like somewhat of a luxury at first glance, there are a few reasons why it is actually vitally important, not only to the experience of the flight but also for its safety.
Let’s, for a moment, compare the act of piloting an aircraft to driving a car; particularly over long distances.
A comfortable driver will remain alert to their surroundings and have a reduced chance of making mistakes that may lead to accidents.
The same could definitely be said for a pilot, except that when you are hurling at nearly 40 000 feet in the air at nearly 100km an hour, mistakes made due to a loss of focus can have far more devastating results, especially if you have passengers aboard.
Common Discomforts in the Air
Fatigue, motion sickness, hyperventilation from overexposure to cabin air, the comfort of the headset and seating, the layout of the cockpit controls, dry eyes, trouble hearing and trouble seeing are but a few of the points of discomforts that will start to take their toll on pilots who are executing long trips.
Fortunately, there are a number of specialised accessories and components that can help pilots bypass these difficulties of spending extended periods of time in the air.
Enhancing the Experience of Flying through Convenience
“Flying was very tangible freedom. In those days, it was beauty, adventure, discovery the epitome of breaking into new worlds.” Anne Morrow Lindbergh
Why do Pilots Fly?
Next, let’s take a moment to explore the reasons why pilots fly.
The answer to this question will be similar whether you are a commercial pilot working for a major airline, or if you are a private pilot with a smaller, privately-owned craft.
Becoming a pilot is not a simple matter of taking up a new hobby or choosing a lucrative career that you happen to show aptitude in; rather it is a commitment made based on a need to experience the freedom of flight.
There is a sense of adventure and discovery that pilots feel when they take to the skies and watch the world unfurl far below them; to see those endlessly sprawling blue oceans unroll to eternity in front of your cockpit, is all the reward a pilot needs.
In an ideal situation, a pilot should be able to slip into this bliss seamlessly; but situations are not always ideal. In fact, they rarely are when you’re suspended high above the safety and comfort of the ground.
What can Dampen the Experience?
Anything that detracts from the comfort of the flight will make it less enjoyable.
Anything that detracts from its safety, will make the flight stressful.
Anything that makes communication or navigation difficult, will take away from the convenience and control offered by the craft.
When these factors are put together, it becomes easy for you to see how the experience that pilots look for in a flight, can be dampened.
Equipment to Enhance the Experience of Flying
Fortunately, prepared pilots have no need to take these inconveniences at face value.
Between communication solutions that make it easy to relay messages to ground-crew, co-pilots and passengers; navigation equipment that makes following the routeing simple, and in-flight controls that give on-demand feedback of craft status; getting the most out of the flight experience is far simpler today than it has ever been in the past.
Finding the Right Avionics Supplier
Of course, finding equipment that provides reliability, comfort, safety and convenience, all at a price that is acceptable to pilots, can be a bit of a challenge.
This puts the onus on pilots and craft owners to find a provider of pilot supplies in South Africa, all the more important.
Nevertheless, it can be easily done by simply asking the right questions. Once you have an idea of who you would like to source supplies from, ask yourself the following questions about their company:
How Experienced are They?
In any industry, experience counts for a lot. In the aviation industry, it counts for that much more.
So, make sure that your supplier knows everything there is to know about your needs and their equipment.
The more experienced they are, the more likely they are to provide you with an essential collection of expertise.
How diverse are their Solutions?
Diversity in terms of their offerings is also an important consideration unless you already know exactly what brand and models of accessories, equipment and components you are looking for.
You will want to choose a provider that has a lot to offer so that you will have a greater choice between types of equipment, and the prices that they come at.
What are their Customers Saying?
This one is particularly reserved for those aviation suppliers that offer custom cockpit design.
Find out more about what previous jobs they have completed, get them to show examples if they can.
Additionally, it is worth your while to find out what their existing customers are saying.
This can be fairly easily done by taking to their social media page (if they have one) to see what is written about them.
Check sites where customer reviews can be found, such as Hello Peter.
You can also Google their name to see if any reviews show up, which will give you a good idea of the quality of their offers.
Contact Century Avionics for Details
If you would like to know more about sourcing specialist equipment from a one-stop-shop for pilot supplies in South Africa, be sure to get into contact with a representative from Century Avionics today.