Universal certifies Vision 1 in Challenger

 - September 15, 2006, 5:42 AM

The FAA in late May granted the first Part 25 STC for a synthetic-vision system (SVS), handing over the approval paperwork to Universal Avionics after the successful completion of flight testing in a Challenger 601-3A at Long Beach Airport.

Certification of Universal’s Vision 1 SVS in the Challenger clears the path for installation of needed hardware and software in the model for operators choosing to upgrade to the technology. SVS presents an artificial view of the world ahead of the airplane–including mountains, obstacles, large bodies of water and runways–on the pilots’ primary flight displays.

Universal president Ted Naimer hailed the certification of Vision 1 in the big business jet as bring-ing “some amazing technology in cockpit situational awareness” to business aviation. He said more STCs in a number of other Part 23 and 25 business airplanes will follow in the coming months as buyers of Universal’s EFI-890R retrofit avionics system make the necessary upgrades.

Vision 1 consists of a worldwide terrain, obstacle and airport database that uses internal graphics adapters to present a video-game-like view of the world on the 890R’s 8.9-inch-diagonal active-matrix LCDs. Certification of the technology, first in the King Air 350 and now in the Challenger, was a long time in coming as the FAA grappled with potential pitfalls of the concept. The chief concern has been that Vision 1 and other SVS designs would be so compelling that pilots might use them in poor weather for scud-running.

Vision 1 hardware and software add about $35,000 to the cost of the EFI-890R retrofit, making the SVS upgrade an attractive option for operators already installing Universal’s terrain awareness and warning system (TAWS) with its overhead plan and 3-D presentations of terrain. Previously certified, in June 2002, was an “exocentric” synthetic view on the MFD-640 multifunction display, followed by the full “egocentric” Vision 1 approval in the King Air last October.

Universal has initiated an aggressive certification schedule with a number of major installation outfits to bring Vision 1 and the EFI-890R cockpit to in-service business jets.

Project partners include Duncan Aviation, Stevens Aviation, Elliott Aviation, Premier Air Center, Landmark Aviation, IFR Avionics, Kansas City Aviation Center and others. The list of aircraft eligible for Vision 1 upgrades spans the Challenger, several Cessna Citations, Dassault Falcons and Gulfstreams, King Airs, the Pilatus PC-12 and others.