One of the real advantages of building your own airplane is the opportunity to customize. Amateur builders often have a choice between several engines and propellers, a rainbow of paint schemes, and a variety of options when it comes to avionics. Typically the Glasair Sportsman is a glass-paneled airplane with panels manufactured by Oregon-based Advanced Flight Systems.
The company makes three high-resolution LCD screens ranging from 8.4 inches (diagonally) to 6.5 inches, all of which can be configured to operate as an EFIS or an engine monitor or both at the same time.
Advanced Flight Systems uses an uncertified version of the TSO’d Crossbow AHRS that is widely used in glass cockpit avionics upgrades for Part 23 aircraft. The glass cockpit Sportsman features synthetic vision, a fuel computer, NEXRAD and METAR weather, plus a TFR overlay. The Advanced system can also handle WAAS and ADS-B. Add Jeppesen’s electronic charts to the mix and you even get a moving map showing geolocation on the chart itself. In simpler terms, you can see where you are on the approach plate while you shoot an approach.
The system also does weight and balance, keeps maintenance logs, and offers auditory alerts as to angle of attack, flap speeds, traffic point-outs, and more. In short, Advanced Flight Systems’ hardware makes the Sportsman as capable as any general aviation glass cockpit aircraft on the market.
Of course, one real advantage comes with avionics made for the experimental market: price. A capable glass cockpit costs significantly less than an OEM system installed in a factory-built new airplane.