Entegra Release 9 nearly finished

 - March 27, 2009, 10:02 AM

Avidyne is close to certifying its latest avionics system, known as Entegra Release 9 and featuring high-resolution displays and the company’s next- generation FMS900w flight management system. The new cockpit will be available initially as an upgrade for Cirrus owners, with retrofit and OEM programs for other airplanes to follow.

Certification of Entegra Release 9 and the associated hardware is expected by the end of second quarter, according to Avidyne president and founder Dan Schwinn. “The FAA has to do their end-game, which is a little bit unpredictable as far as timing,” he said. “There are some flight tests left to do and then we’ll go back and answer any questions they have. But we’re closing in on all of that.”  

The market introduction of Entegra Release 9 will finally give Avidyne a potent answer to the Garmin G1000 avionics system, which has fared better in the market for a variety of reasons, not the least of which is a perception by some that the Garmin cockpit is more capable and easier to use. With Release 9, Avidyne hopes
to erase that perception.

The latest version of Entegra features large-format, LED-backlit displays, touted as the first to be completely interchangeable for use as primary or multifunction displays. “Since each integrated flight display is fully capable of performing the functions of the other, no unfamiliar or limited reversionary modes are required,” Schwinn said.

An integrated, digital WAAS navcom/surveillance suite is managed within the FMS900w–a clean-sheet design that Schwinn said re-imagines what the flight management system can be–while dual-redundant databus interconnection automatically synchronizes data among displays, the FMS keypad and a variety of safety sensors. Airplanes in the category of the single-engine Cirrus SR22 represent the low-end for the FMS900w, Schwinn said. “It’s really designed for single-pilot IFR in higher-end Part 23 airplanes, including turboprops and jets,” he said, adding that Part 25 airplanes approved for single-pilot exemptions could also be candidates for the cockpit.

The latest Entegra cockpit has been designed with ease of use and redundancy foremost in mind. Using a true dual-redundant, peer-to-peer databus, such as the one developed for Avidyne’s latest Entegra integrated flight deck, means that critical sensor and computation modules are not “daisy-chained” together in a manner that can create cascading failures, designers note. With a true dual-redundant, peer-to-peer databus, single-point failures remain just that, single-point failures, and do not adversely affect other systems.

Schwinn said pilots will appreciate Entegra Release 9’s easy-to-learn, easy-to-use pilot interface, which has been designed to reduce workload and enhance safety. Entegra Release 9, he said, provides access to all critical flight information in a simple “page and tab” format without complex functions, modes or submenus. “Our challenge,” said Schwinn, “was to design a fully functional FMS that could do anything that a Universal or a G1000 or Collins or Honeywell bizjet FMS can do–but have it be really, really simple to operate. That’s where we spent the majority of our time the last couple of years.”

As a result, everything the pilot needs to operate the system is included on the large multifunction display. Access to Entegra Release 9’s capabilities involves the simple task of pressing a desired bidirectional page key. The various display options within a page are represented as tabs. Pressing the same key in a desired direction navigates through the tabs. All drop-down menus in Release 9 are context sensitive and choices are displayed in a prioritized order.

Even the cursor is context sensitive and provides an indication of whether the operation is intended to insert a leg or to modify an a existing waypoint. The design avoids the use of menus and provides a method for performing basic editing functions.