Commercial electronics boost cockpit upgrades

 - May 17, 2008, 3:54 AM

Advancements in the consumer electronics industry are making their way into cockpits of business aircraft. High resolution flat-panel displays, synthetic-vision systems, flight-management systems with integrated situation awareness capabilities, GPS receivers, high-speed computing and mass data storage are all becoming common upgrades in many corporate and general aviation aircraft. Here at EBACE plenty of this new, more affordable and capable equipment is on display.

Avidyne Corp. (Booth No. 563) is involved in several initiatives. In collaboration with Southern Star Avionics, the company is developing a flight deck retrofit for the Hawker Beechcraft King Air 90 series of twin turboprops using its Envision integrated suite. An STC will add A through E series King Airs to the approved model list.

The U.S. company has also introduced its new Entegra FMS900W WAAS-enabled GPS/NAV/COM FMS which provides fully redundant VHF and a TSO C146b Gamma 3-compliant turbine-class flight-management system for general aviation aircraft. It will offer hardware and software upgrade paths to existing Entegra owners.

Meanwhile, Avidyne and completion specialist West Star Aviation are offering RVSM capability for Cessna 441 Conquest II customers via Avidyne’s Envision/Alliant avionics retrofit. The installation interfaces Avidyne’s Envision/Alliant PFD with a RVSM-capable air data computer. Completion is anticipated by mid-year.

CMC Electronics (Booth No. 1056) is highlighting its electronic flight bag (EFB) here in Geneva this week, along with an enhanced vision system (EVS), GPS and integrated cockpit offerings. CMC recently launched its CMA-2600i integrated sensor system for Bombardier’s Challenger 605.

Another new offering is the CMA-2700. The SureSight system was chosen for the new Global Vision flight deck of the Global 5000 and Global Express XRS. CMC’s SureSight family now also includes the M-Series sensor weighing 2.2 pounds, which Pilatus recently selected as a forward-fit and retrofit option for the PC-12 turboprop single.

The Canadian company also offers its autonomous TacView portable mission display, compatible with portable flight-planning software and the FalconView mapping system. Other CMC highlights include the CMA-5024 SBAS receiver–a bolt-on GPS approach receiver for the retrofit market as well as new build–while the CMA-3024 will give the Global-5000 lateral precision with vertical guidance (LPV) capability.

Garmin (Booth No. 900) recently certified its synthetic-vision technology (SVT) system, which integrates with the company’s G1000 avionics suite. SVT presents a 3-D depiction of terrain, obstacles and traffic on the G1000’s primary flight-display (PFD). The system will become available on G900X-equipped aircraft by this July and on the G1000 King Air C90 retrofit in 2009. Cessna will also add SVT to the Cessna Citation Mustang as an option later this year. “SVT is a retrofitable system and we are working with OEMs to develop a process whereby customers will have the option of adding SVT to their aircraft with very little downtime,” said Gary Kelley, Garmin’s vice president of marketing.

Separately, Garmin also has also unveiled its new G950 avionics suite. Referred to as “G1000-lite” at its recent launch, the system has gained its first application for Quartz Mountain’s four-seat piston single. “The G950 is a step between the G900X and G1000. It integrates all primary flight, navigation, communication, terrain, traffic, surveillance, weather and engine sensor data on two or three Garmin high-definition LCDs,” explained Kelley.

Honeywell (Booth No. 322) is actively developing products for the retrofit market. At the upper end is its synthetic-vision primary flight display (SV-PFD) which is now available as an optional upgrade to current G550s, G500s, G450s and G350s equipped with its PlaneView cockpit.

“A key upgrade for the higher-end business jets is the Primus Epic CDSR [control display system retrofit],” Chad Cundiff, Honeywell’s vice president of marketing for crew interface systems, told EBACE Convention News. “This takes some of the Primus Epic technology and makes it available as a retrofit package for aircraft that did not originally have Honeywell cockpits. It uses large format LCDs and is certified on aircraft such as the [Hawker Beechcraft] Hawker 800, Hawker 1000, [Dassault] Falcon 900, [Piaggio Aero] P.180 [Avanti], [Cessna] Citation III, Citation V, Gulfstream II, and Gulfstream III, with more platforms to come.

“For aircraft with our older Primus 1000/2000 and SPZ-8400/-8500 systems we will offer the DU-875, DU-885,” Cundiff added. “This plug-and-play installation replaces older CRTs with LCDs and will also display charts, maps and graphical weather information. There are more than 3,000 aircraft out there that could benefit from this upgrade.”

Honeywell is also offering the Bendix/King KSN 770. Part of its Apex Edge series, this multifunction display for general aviation incorporates GPS, WAAS
and a new software-based VHF radio for communications and navigation.

Rockwell Collins (Booth No. 1208) is offering its “Pro Line Fusion” for the OEM market. This will debut on the Bombardier Global family and will also feature on both Cessna’s new Citation Columbus and Mitsubishi’s Regional Jet. Meanwhile, for retrofit applications, the company’s Pro Line 21 integrated display system (IDS) gained its most recent STC certification for the King Air 200 this year. This installation integrates with the aircraft’s existing autopilot and sensors and includes three eight- by 10-inch LCDs, a digital weather radar and integrated flight information system (IFIS) providing electronic charts, approaches, airport diagrams and notams.
“This marks our ongoing effort to make more Pro Line 21 IDS STCs available to our dealers,” said Denny Helgeson, vice president and general manager, business and regional systems for Rockwell Collins. Pending STCs include the King Air C90 and Falcon 20, while existing STCs include the Falcon 50, P.180 Avanti and Hawker 800A.

Sandel Avionics (Booth No. 1343) is showcasing its latest SG102 attitude heading reference system as a solid-state replacement for electromechanical directional gyros and is awaiting approval, according to spokesperson Ken Kochi. “The SG102 gives operators size and weight savings versus older generation directional gyros, and offers 10,000 hours MTBF [mean time between failure] and increased reliability. FAA TSO approval was received in February and shipments have begun.”

Other fully certified offerings from Sandel include SA4550 primary attitude display with flight director; the SN4500 primary navigation display, which displays heading, localizer, glideslope and moving map information; and the ST3400 self-contained terrain awareness and warning system computer and display with new LED backlighting. All of Sandel’s displays now use LED backlighting for improved sunlight visibility, 180-degree viewing angle and an MTBF of 10,000 hours.

Thales (Booth No. 940) is making inroads into offering retrofit packages for business aviation. One of these is its integrated electronic standby instruments (IESI) combining speed, altitude and attitude. Embraer recently selected the equipment for the cockpits of its Phenom 100 and 300 business jets, and Pilatus chose the units as an upgrade for the PC-12. The other recent retrofit offering is Thales’ Kannad range of emergency locator transmitters, which will support the upcoming ICAO regulations beginning in July for aircraft carrying 19 or more passengers. Other systems Thales is targeting for retrofit are its LCD-based head-up display (HUD) and its TopFlight satcom terminal.

In March, Universal Avionics (Booth No. 515) received an STC allowing installations of its line of WAAS-capable FMS units in the Bombardier Challenger 600, 601 and 601-3R. “The WAAS-FMS will not only enable accuracies for en route and approach down to 200 feet and a half-mile visibility, but will also provide onboard position accuracy to all systems utilizing GPS position,” said Dan Reida, Universal’s vice president of marketing.

“A concurrent development in the industry is the push toward synthetic-vision systems,” he added. “Our Vision-1 synthetic-vision system is the first product of its kind certified for Part 25 aircraft.”

Vision-1 has received certification for installation in the King Air 350, and most recently for the Challenger 601-3A. Universal is working with installation outfits to bring Vision-1 and the EFI-890R cockpit to in-service business jets.