Thales is supplying the cockpit control display and onboard airport navigation systems for ATR’s new -600 series turboprops as part of an extensive package that also includes autopilot, navigation and communications equipment and the integrated modular avionics (IMA) system.
Luc Baron, Thales’ design authority for the ATR 600, said the IMA, an innovation for regional aircraft, means functions can be modified without modifying the system. So it will be possible to add new functions needed in the future either by adding a new circuit board supporting several functions or by a new software partition. The system includes the avionics full-duplex switched Ethernet (AFDX) developed for the A380.
The initial version of the software flew in July 2009. One year and four interim standards later, the version in the Toulouse labs was 100-percent functional for Cat 2 operations, Cat 3 capability being an option that no airline has requested so far. The system comprises around two million lines of computer code, Baron said, and every new version requires 7,000 elementary tests. Thales delivered the Cat 2 version to ATR last month and certification is expected late this year or early next.
Compared with the current -500 models, the new flight deck replaces all instruments with five large displays as big as those on the A380. Thales is also integrating equipment from other vendors, including Honeywell’s Primus 660 weather radar and Rockwell Collins radios. The Cat 2 version uses a Sagem attitude and heading reference system (AHRS), which would be replaced for Cat 3 by a
Honeywell inertial reference system. “Our ambition in the long term is to be able to be able to provide a complete avionics suite based on our sensors,” Baron said
A retrofit would likely cost as much as the aircraft was worth, he added, “It is conceptually feasible, but we’re sure it won’t be done.”
Thales has also delivered the full Cat 2 version of the Sukhoi Superjet 100 software, which is in the final stages of flight tests aimed at freezing the configuration and winning Russian certification. “Sukhoi is doing a significant part of the software development,” Baron commented. “We trained their people to develop software that we then integrate, so they will be have useful competence to leverage in other programs, or possibly for future Thales programs.”