Operators lacking approval for precision area-nav (PRnav) operations are finding access to European airports increasingly limited, and Universal Avionics is here at EBACE to emphasize that its satellite-based augmentation system (Sbas) flight management systems (FMS) ensure compliance with the PRnav requirements set out in JAA TGL10. Area nav allows shorter, more direct routes and more precise navigational accuracy in terminal and approach airspace.
Airports recognize the benefits of PRnav for making the most of airspace and runway capacity and minimizing delays, and Amsterdam Schiphol was the first airport in Europe to accept only PRnav-capable aircraft. Others have since followed the Dutch lead, including London Heathrow and Gatwick, Zürich, Vienna International, Stockholm-Arlanda in Sweden, Brussels, Milan Malpensa, Nice Côte d’Azur in the south of France and Portugal’s Faro. Universal’s Sbas-FMS is compatible with regional Sbas systems in Europe (Egnos), North America (Waas), Japan (MSAS) and India (Gagan).
Flight-testing of Universal’s AHS-525 attitude-heading reference system (AHRS) is now “largely complete,” with certification and first shipments anticipated by August, prompting the company to offer it for order and delivery scheduling. “We are pleased with the flight-testing, as the AHS-525 has performed at or beyond expectations,” said Paul Damschen, Universal Avionics’ manager of airworthiness and flight operations.
The AHS-525 replaces existing analog directional and vertical spinning gyros and integrates seamlessly with an aircraft’s flight-deck displays, flight control systems, flight management systems, weather radar, terrain awareness and warning system and flight-data recorder. When interfaced with Universal’s EFI-890R, data display and control are managed directly through the EFIS, without the need for additional heading control panels that clutter the flight deck.
The unit is designed with micro-electromechanical systems (Mems)-based technology, “a system that combines the computational ability of micro-electronics with the acuity and control of micro-sensors and micro-accelerometers. This solid-state construction, with no internal movable parts, increases unit reliability,” according to Universal.
The AHS-525 exemplifies the sort of product that long ago established Universal as a developer of retrofit avionic components to rejuvenate the flight decks and capabilities of stout and capable but electronically outdated older aircraft. Something new for the Tucson, Arizona-based company is its recent contract to design an entire avionics suite as factory fit for an OEM’s latest aircraft–Universal’s role on MD Helicopters’ planned “NextGen” revamp of the Explorer twin-turbine helicopter. The two companies announced the partnership at Heli-Expo this March in Las Vegas.
The NextGen Explorer will have a single-pilot IFR-capable flight deck with display graphics that are video and mission display capable. The primary flight display (PFD) provides all primary flight parameters, primary engine/rotor data and safety-critical annunciators. The multi-function display/engine indicating and crew-alerting system (MFD/Eicas) replaces the current IIDS and radar displays with synoptic displays. Synthetic vision, moving maps, system displays, electronic charts and checklists are included in the baseline suite.
A point-and-click display using a cyclic-mounted cursor slew switch enables the pilot to operate the system while maintaining visual contact with the flight instruments. This feature is designed to keep the pilot “hands-on, head-up” for increased visual awareness. Single- and dual-pilot cockpit configurations will be supported for forward-fit and retrofit installation.
“Universal is excited to enter into this partnership with MD Helicopters,” said Dan Reida, Universal’s vice president of sales, marketing and support. “We look forward to providing MD with the latest in avionics technology that affords enhancements to safety, reductions in operational costs and addresses current and future requirements,” he added. “This program reinforces Universal’s commitment to the rotorcraft market.”
In other retrofit news at Universal, the company says that its partnership with Duncan Aviation to develop a retrofit suite for the Falcon 900B “is well under way after its announcement at the NBAA Convention last year. The first installation is nearing completion, with the aircraft scheduled to be delivered next month and several other potential aircraft upgrades close to contract signature.” The 900B upgrade replaces 25 original instruments with five display screens.
On the service and support front, Universal has introduced an extended warranty program called FlightAssure, designed so that operators can budget the cost of component avionics repairs. Benefits of the program include removal and refit coverage; fixed price with annual contract; fully transferrable contract; full coverage on exchange and repair services; loaner units; component repairs, including no-fault-found (NFF) removals; free outbound second-day air freight; and 24/7 AOG emergency service.
Billund, Denmark-based Scandinavian Avionics, which Universal describes as “one of our premier equipment sales and installation dealers,” has expanded its repair capabilities to include the EFI-890R/890H flight display systems.