Apex TSO expected this month

 - December 28, 2007, 5:31 AM

After wrapping up more than 200 hours of flight testing with Pilatus in the Next Generation PC-12, Honeywell anticipates receiving TSO approval for its Primus Apex avionics system this month.

The upgraded version of the Swiss-made turboprop will be the first production aircraft to roll off the assembly line with the Apex cockpit, which builds on the pedigree established by Honeywell’s Primus Epic avionics system. Both cockpits incorporate level-A software and Honeywell’s proprietary DEOS operating system, as well as similar graphical flight-planning interfaces and cursor controllers. Apex is the first all-new business aviation cockpit from Honeywell since Epic was introduced more than a decade ago.

“There’s quite a lot of similarity between Primus Epic and Apex,” said Honeywell vice president John Todd, adding that the two systems are on the same basic roadmap. Technology that comes first to Primus Epic, such as enhanced and synthetic vision, eventually will be incorporated into the Apex platform, he said. “All our OEM customers are excited about the possibilities for Apex” with respect to technologies like Honeywell’s iPFD synthetic-vision system. The technology recently concluded certification flight testing with launch customer Gulfstream, Todd said, adding that an SVS certification program for the PC-12 is scheduled to begin later this year.

Pilatus anticipates certification for the Next Generation PC-12 soon after receipt of the Apex TSO. Besides the upgraded avionics system, the airplane also features a new cockpit layout designed by BMWDesignworksUSA and a more powerful Pratt & Whitney Canada PT6 engine. The Stans, Switzerland-based manufacturer has delivered more than 750 PC-12s since the workhorse turboprop was certified in 1994.

The PC-12 will be delivered standard with three flight displays including a pair of 10.4-inch PFDs and a video-capable 15-inch MFD. A second MFD offered as an option
has been ordered by the majority of buyers, Pilatus reports. Other standard items include weather radar, radar altimeter, EGPWS, dual-channel ADAHRS, dual multi-mode receivers, dual WAAS GPS receivers and single transponder and DME. Options include TCAS, second transponder and DME, second audio panel, XM satellite weather and several software add-ons for the iNav charts and maps and crew interface.

The PC-12 NG program was a big win for Apex developers, but it wasn’t the only OEM contract for the system. Grob’s SPn light business jet will also feature the Apex cockpit in the form of a four-display version that includes two 15-inch PFDs flanking two vertically stacked 10-inch MFDs in a layout that is almost identical
to the one in the PC-12.

According to the German aircraft builder, TCAS II traffic alert system, EGPWS and dual FMS will be standard. Honeywell’s Todd said additional OEMs have committed to the cockpit, with public announcements expected later in the year.

While the Apex programs so far have focused on Part 23 business airplanes, Todd said the avionics system won’t be limited to specific market segments. Responsibility for developing Apex is being split among Olathe, Kan., where Honeywell’s Bendix/King division is based, its aerospace headquarters in Phoenix and its safety development center in Redmond, Wash. The Part 25 aircraft market remains a viable target for Apex, Todd said.