Innovative New Product destined to become Pilot’s Best Friend
A new product has been launched that will make a real impact on the aviation industry with the release of the WINGMATE Data Manager from WheezyTech’s avionics division. WINGMATE is designed to improve the flying experience for both experienced and novice private pilots.
The brainchild of Peter Wezenbeek, an expert in data acquisition and analysis, WINGMATE is best described as a black box for light aircraft. The WINGMATE Data Manager records relevant flight data directly to an SD memory card so that pilots can keep track of their own performance quickly and easily.
Peter’s first-hand experience as the Control Systems Engineer for Fernando Alonso in the Renault Formula 1 Team has given him a unique insight into the power of data collection. During his time in F1, Peter used test and race data to come up with strategies to improve both vehicle and driver performance.
Also a keen private pilot, Peter has combined the lessons learned in F1 with his passion for aviation to develop this unique data acquisition module.
“From the first day of development on WINGMATE, our goal was to put technology generally considered only for commercial applications, into the hands of private pilots to improve their flying experience,” said Peter Wezenbeek, director technical development at WINGMATE. “Technology is racing ahead in leaps and bounds and these days all pilots should have access to important and relevant flight data without investing huge amounts in expensive, over-complicated equipment.”
The standard WINGMATE unit provides six degrees of freedom data logging using three axis accelerometers and three axis MEMS gyroscopes while the in-built GPS unit provides global position and speed.
“Once a pilot has completed their flight, all they have to do to review the data is eject the SD card from the WINGMATE console and load it up to a PC to view and analyse it with our user-friendly data viewer” explained Peter.
As one would expect, the WINGMATE Data Viewer displays accelerometer, gyro sensors and GPS sensor traces so pilots can analyse the data for themselves and in addition the pilot can overlay each flight onto Google Earth to show the exact flight path.
“One of the functions that makes WINGMATE truly unique is that it also presents a flight report containing a list of typical flight quality indicators such as take off performance and landing quality.
“At the same time the Google Earth export provides a summary report of the landing from which you can confirm whether it was soft or hard and what the landing speed was.”
If used in conjunction with an Electronic Flight Information System (EFIS), WINGMATE can also record additional sensor data depending on the set up of the plane’s instrumentation. This can include traces for airspeed, angle of attack, heading, and altitude.
“I believe that all private pilots could benefit from analysing flight data each time they take to the sky. As a pilot myself I know how valuable it is to keep track of my own performance. Using WINGMATE will quickly let you know if you’re drifting a little bit or getting in the habit of borderline landings, which you might not realise until your next BFR.
“By analysing your own flight performance you can be one step ahead and be more confident as well,” Peter explained.
There are also a series of additional applications where WINGMATE could prove valuable, including flight instruction, aerobatics and for airplane rental companies.
“WINGMATE can really help student pilots improve their flying skills quickly,” said Peter. “Once students go solo, they really are on their own and have to judge the flight performance themselves.
“Judging the quality of take offs and landings are left open to interpretation by the student. However, flying schools who invest in WINGMATE can offer the advantage of having an instructor review the flight data with the student. They can make sure that, for example, touch-down speeds were within limits and qualify how smooth landings were. This is a huge advantage that will quickly identify any weaknesses in a student’s skill set and allow them to work on correcting them fast.”
Peter and the team at WINGMATE also believe that airplane rental companies will realise qualitative results from installing WINGMATE modules in their fleets.
“It’s important for rental companies to know where a plane has been and how it was treated while it’s been out on lease.
“Unfortunately asking the pilot is often not good enough, but now owners of rental fleets can see for themselves from real data just how good the landings have been and whether damage could have been done to the undercarriage from a rather harsh landing.
“Usually damage is only discovered at the end of the year when the airplane comes in for the annual service and you’re presented with the bill, but now you’ll know if you need to check for damage as soon as the airplane returns to the hangar” said Peter.
WINGMATE units are easy to install requiring only a 12 volt power point and every module includes a power lead and antenna.