In a bid to gain a larger share of the market for retrofit cockpit systems, Honeywell is adding electronic charts and uplink weather functions to its Primus Epic CDS/R avionics system.
During a recent demonstration flight in a Cessna Citation V, Honeywell officials showed off the electronic Jeppesen navigation charts that can be called up on the system’s MFD. Pilots use a small cursor-control joystick to select the color charts and other features, all of which are integrated with the flight management system (FMS). TSO approval for the system is expected next year.
Primus Epic CDS/R is a derivative of the Primus 1000/2000 and Primus Epic integrated avionics systems. It features 8- by 10-inch active matrix liquid crystal displays in configurations from one to four screens, depending on customer needs. Powered by Honeywell’s IC-1080 integrated avionics computer, the system interfaces with graphics cards and file servers and is available with its own optional FMS/GPS receiver.
Ken Snodgrass, director of product marketing, said customers have been telling Honeywell that they want the ability to display electronic charts on the Epic CDS/R flight displays as an alternative to handheld electronic flight bag (EFB) computers, which are relatively inexpensive but do not normally interface with the FMS.
“Pilots will be able to display charts on the airplane’s instrument panel rather than having to shuffle paper in the cockpit,” Snodgrass said, adding that a moving aircraft symbol overlaid onto the digital charts will assist crews with situational awareness.
Honeywell announced at the NBAA Convention in Las Vegas in October that it will provide capability for the electronic Jeppesen charts as well as graphical weather information for all Honeywell Primus Epic integrated avionics systems that use 8- by 10-inch DU-1080 displays. Honeywell has already started offering electronic charts in Primus Epic systems that have 10- by 13-inch cockpit displays. The first certification was granted in May for the Gulfstream 550. The avionics maker plans to have charts and graphical weather capability for the smaller displays ready for certification by aircraft manufacturers late next year.
The prototype of the electronic charts that Honeywell demonstrated seemed better than what is available on most handheld EFBs, but the software engineers still need to make refinements before the system can receive its final TSO approval. During the demo flight, for example, scrolling across e-charts using the joystick was often jumpy, due primarily to the limitations of non-flight-certified hardware driv- ing the chart graphics, according to Snodgrass.
Also, the charts looked good, with exceptional sunlight readability, but they were somewhat pixelated, making smaller type hard to read. Perhaps most frustrating, however, was that performing the routine task of switching between the iNav page and charts mode required about six clicks of the joystick to scroll through the proper menus. Better would be a single button next to the joystick allowing the pilot to flip between these common map modes. All are issues Honeywell engineers are working to address, Snodgrass said.
Updates of the Jeppesen charts and maps will be provided every 14 days. Charts are stored in the airplane aboard a special file server. For business aircraft operators who want to move to a paperless environment, Honeywell is working on a version that would include a second server as a backup.
“The development of electronic charts and maps marks the first key step toward the paperless cockpit,” Snodgrass said. “Initially, pilots will be required to have paper charts available in the cockpit as a backup, but our intent is to work toward certification of a completely electronic system.”
Honeywell will eventually offer CDS/R with the weather capability, although the company has yet to install prototype hardware aboard its test airplane.