Garmin announced the new G5000H helicopter avionics suite at Heli-Expo today, coinciding with Bell’s launch of its largest-ever helicopter, the 525 Relentless. The new helicopter is the launch customer for the G5000H.
The Bell 525 will feature a four-display system and incorporate Bell’s new awareness, react and control (ARC) cockpit. Demonstrations of the G5000H in a 12-inch screen configuration are available at Garmin’s Heli-Expo booth (No. 9432). G5000H displays are also available in 14-inch size.
While the G5000H system is designed for twin-turbine medium-lift and larger helicopters, it could be used for smaller helicopters as well. But G5000H is much more than big glass and includes touchscreen control, voice command and an automatic flight control system that will be a first for a Garmin helicopter avionics system. “We continue to invest and expand into other parts of the market,” said Bill Stone, Garmin avionics product manager.
The G5000 and G5000H touchscreen controls are not part of the big displays but are mounted separately for easy access by pilots. The advantage in large aircraft like business jets and medium-lift helicopters is that pilots might not always sit close enough to the PFDs and MFDs in the instrument panel, so reaching out and touching the displays isn’t practical. But the touchscreen controls can be mounted anywhere and offer complete control of all avionics functions.
Adapting the G5000 fixed-wing system to helicopters involved much more than just plunking it into a helicopter cockpit. “It would be nice if it was a small adaptation,” Stone said, “but in reality there’s an awful lot of redesign to make it specific to the helicopter market. We’ve had to reengineer a lot of the black boxes because of the severe environment in which rotorcraft operate–anywhere from water to salt fog to high vibrations–which are much more severe in the rotorcraft market than they are in a nice cozy business jet.”
The G5000H attitude and heading reference system (AHRS) has to be redesigned, too, for the peculiar characteristics of helicopters. “Helicopters fly backwards, they do things business jets should not do,” Stone said. “It seems easy to get into the helicopter market, but when you peel the onion back you almost have to change every element of the avionics to be specific to rotorcraft. AHRS, from the flight dynamics standpoint, is specific to the helicopter, but also helicopters operate near ferrous objects, near rigs and oil wells, and things that normally are going to affect the heading. So we had to design the system so it could lock in a specific heading until it can get off a rig and then resume normal operation.”
The G5000H will have a flight director designed by Garmin, according to Stone. “We’re doing a lot of development in the flight director arena to develop modes specific for rotorcraft operations,” he said. The G5000H automatic flight control will be either a Garmin design or third-party system. Some rotorcraft manufacturers want to develop their own autopilot system and integrate that with the flight director, he explained.
Other G5000H features include Garmin’s Telligence Voice Command speech recognition and 3-D audio, which makes the sound delivered through the audio panel seem much more natural and easier to hear. The displays will offer multipane capability, allowing segregation of various types of information on one display. And G5000H will also include full engine instrumentation.
Garmin’s synthetic vision technology (SVT) also needed to be adapted for helicopters. “Helicopters fly intentionally in close proximity to obstacles and terrain,” he said, “so we have our HSVT, which is specifically designed for helicopters to highlight the terrain, the obstacles and give good situational awareness to the crew. We back that up with H-Taws, a terrain awareness and warning system specific to helicopter operations, so we minimize nuisance alerts and still give a good level of protection around the helicopter should it stray from its intended flight path.”
Garmin’s first helicopter-centric system, the G500H announced at last year’s Heli-Expo, is aimed at smaller single-engine VFR helicopters. Garmin engineers were able to adopt some G500H elements for the G5000H, according to Stone, “but there’s a big difference between a single-engine helicopter and a medium-lift twin. We’ve got to deal with Cat A performance and some of the other things on the bigger helicopter. It’s a huge investment to serve the medium-lift market and do it well.”
Garmin’s initial foray into Part 29 IFR cockpits is with rotorcraft OEMs like Bell and the 525. If there is enough demand, Garmin would consider a retrofit G5000H system, according to Stone.