Synthetic Vision Brings Awareness to Desert, Mountain Flying


Sunridge manages multiple hotel properties, primarily under the Marriott brand, throughout Arizona, Nevada and New Mexico. Flying from its base at the Phoenix-Mesa Gateway Airport in Arizona, the company logs 30 to 40 hours monthly on its single-pilot rated Mustang. Sunridge, which began in 1981, has most recently been managing Marriott brands including Courtyard, Fairfield Inn, Residence Inn, SpringHill Suites and TownePlace.

To give you an idea of how highly Sunridge values the contribution from its aviation department, company pilot French is pictured on the company’s website along with other key Sunridge leadership, including CEO Paul L. Welker and President Brian D. Welker.

Not Very Accessible
“Ninety percent of the time, I fly them to where their hotel properties are; most are in smaller towns, like Roswell and Clovis, N.M.,” French says. “They aren’t very accessible by airline. Or if you can get there, it’s expensive and inconvenient because you’re going to have to connect from somewhere and you spend the whole day.”

“So the airplane works perfectly,” he continues. “It’s cost-effective because it’s efficient, and the leg lengths are usually around 500 miles. You can typically fill it with passengers and be on your way.”

French, 50, began his aviation career as an aircraft mechanic for Northwest Airlines and stayed there for 18 years. He began flying on his own in 1990, learning to fly in Cessna 150 and 172 single-engine aircraft after a co-worker introduced him to general aviation.

“His father owned a couple of airplanes. I went flying with him and he kind of gave me the bug. I went out and got my private pilot’s license. I took a leave from Northwest for six months and went to school up through my flight instructor ratings.”

After returning to Northwest and instructing for a while, French flew freight at night on his days off to build multi-engine time. He took another leave of absence from Northwest and flew for United Express, “until they wouldn’t give me any more leaves of absence.”

Desert, Mountain, Remote and Busy
Today, as an experienced business jet pilot, most of French’s trips are out and back, dealing every day with barren desert, mountain terrain, remote runways and busy airports. So, situational awareness is essential. That’s where Garmin’s G1000 SVT add-on, accomplished at the Mesa Cessna Citation Service Center, makes life for pilot and passengers easier and safer.

“This is the best system I have used by far. It displays the information in a very user-friendly format, and I like the SVT synthetic vision a lot. When I fly into Provo, and there’s a lot of terrain, it pictorially shows the terrain and obstacles on the PFD along with the traffic,” French says.

Adding Real Time to Database
SVT utilizes a highly detailed terrain and obstacle database to re-create 3-D visuals that add traffic in real-time. When flying in challenging terrain, Garmin SVT depicts hazardous terrain with red or amber colors to get the pilot’s attention. This feature increases safety and decreases the chance of Controlled Flight Into Terrain (CFIT).

“On the MFD you only see your traffic in one-dimension, where it’s just flat on the screen. The SVT just makes it a lot more clear where to look for the traffic because it shows up on the PFD where it is in relation to you altitude-wise, and gives you a better idea what direction to look,” French says.

“They do a lot of flight training at Gateway, and there’s always traffic in the area. Sometimes they’ll get a little ways away from the airport, and they stop talking to the tower. With all these guys out there buzzing around, it is good to know exactly where they’re at to keep from running into them.”

French appreciates the software installation performed by the Mesa Citation Service Center. More than that, he gives the crew there high marks.

“The Mesa service center is just absolutely great to me. I can’t say enough about the service we get there. They just go out of their way to take care of us.”

He has his ATP, CFI, IIMEI and an A&P license. And French is type-rated in the 500 Series Citations, the Mustang, Eclipse Jet and Jetstream 4100. Married for 16 years, he has three boys, ages 4, 9, and 11. The family lives in Queen Creek, only five or 10 minutes from the Mesa-Gateway airport.

French has flown his boys in the jet some, and he’s hoping they catch the flying bug someday. “But, not so far,” he laments. Someday his sons might more clearly see the opportunities in business flying – just like their dad sees with his Garmin SVT.

The post Synthetic Vision Brings Awareness to Desert, Mountain Flying appeared first on Garmin Blog.

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