Xavion’s Saves

We have had two apparent “saves” that we know of so far. Nobody has had to follow hoops down after engine failure yet (that we know of), but two people have lost all attitude instruments when IFR, with no autopilot, and kept control of their craft thanks to Xavion or the VP-400 (the non-iPad hardware version of Xavion installed in experimental aircraft).

Save #1

Lin Hough's Lancair with the VP-400 mounted in the center
Lin Hough’s Lancair with the VP-400 mounted in the center

Lin Hough had recently installed the VP-400 in his slick Lancair-IV, and was flying with a VP-400 (the version of Xavion that is installed on a Linux computer in experimental aircraft). Shortly after entering clouds, both of his Primary Flight Displays crashed, giving new meaning to the term “Blue Screen of Death”. We suspect that some sort of sensor or electrical input common to both displays sent some signal to them that crashed them both at the same moment. The VP-400, though, remained functional, giving Lin a synthetic vision backup that he used to keep his craft under control.

Lin and his passenger emerged from the flight unharmed—not bad after a dual PFD failure in IFR conditions.

Lin commented:

The VP-400 mounted in my Lancair rolled right into action. I was almost level at 19,000 feet when my displays came back. I didn’t have a functioning autopilot, which added to the intensity of the moment. The outcome without the VP-400 might not have been survivable.

Lin Hough with his Lancair IV, using Xavion on the VP-400

Save #2

Richards' Cherokee 140 panel, with Xavion running on his iPhone in the lower left
Richards’ Cherokee 140 panel, with Xavion running on his iPhone in the lower left

Richard (using middle name only at his request) was flying a Cherokee 140 IFR when his mechanical attitude gyro tumbled. Richard had Xavion running on his iPhone (mounted to the panel), and he used that to keep control of the airplane until he emerged form IFR conditions.

Richard (CFI, and former Airline Pilot) says:

A few weeks ago, my attitude gyro tumbled just after takeoff into low IMC. Xavion, along with the iPhone’s built in gyros were right there with me and were rock solid all the way though the layer! Now, I’ve got a brand new gyro and am happier than ever with Xavion. . . . I also have a turn coordinator and a directional gyro, but in the instance I described, Xavion was the only direct attitude reference.

So, those are two cases that we have heard of recently. In both cases, some mechanical or software failure left the pilot with no direct attitude reference or autopilot, while in clouds, IFR.
These cases should be expected to result in fatalities, but in both cases, they are Xavion customers who are now emailing me about what happened and continuing to enjoy flying.

These are interesting days we live in—days where your phone can save your life, guiding you to safety when the avionics in your airplane fail in flight.


Save #3

On Jul 7, 2016, at 4:22 PM:


Xavion may have saved my life today. If it didn’t, it greatly improved my chances of survival. 

My wife and I were enroute to KSGS (South St. Paul) from KMPV (Montpelier, Vermont) in hard IMC over the Adirondack Mountains when the master switch relay in our flying club Arrow II failed. It failed everything on the flight deck except for the two iPads. I had Xavion up on my personal iPad, and used its attitude heading and reference information to descend out of IMC into conditions that permitted me to land the aircraft visually at Schroon Lake. We all know what a complete instrument failure in IMC can mean, in a controlled descent in mountainous terrain in instrument conditions is not something I would care to attempt without functioning instruments. In this case, my functioning instruments consisted of your iPad application.

Thanks to you and to your vision. Feel free to use this as a product endorsement if you care to. 


Douglas Brown