CMC stands by five-year timeline for FronTier

 - June 3, 2009, 5:07 AM

CMC Electronics expects the first applications of its FronTier range of integrated cockpit systems to enter service before the end of 2013. The Canadian company is seeking to challenge the dominance of Honeywell and Rockwell Collins in the Part 25 business jet market segment by developing a competitor to the Primus Epic and Pro Line avionics suites.

In January CMC Electronics announced a C$149.4 million ($120 million) investment in research and development for FronTier over the next five years. This includes a C$52.3 million ($42 million) contribution from the Canadian government’s Innovation & Technology Office. CMC has identified the key goals of the new FronTier technology as reducing the cost of ownership and giving OEMs greater flexibility and control over the cockpit systems, as well as improving safety, reducing the environmental impact of aircraft and increasing airspace capacity.

According to Gérald Charland, CMC’s vice president for strategy and business development, head-up displays and advances in navigation systems will be the cornerstones of FronTier. “Situational awareness will be a key feature,” he told AIN. “We want pilots flying head up all the time and, from 2013, head-up displays will be standard equipment.”

CMC intends to build FronTier on its existing product portfolio, which includes GPS-based navigation systems, flight management systems (FMS), enhanced-vision systems (EVS) and electronic flight bags (EFB). Charland said the company has significant systems integration experience from its involvement in military programs, such as the full EFIS it provides for Hawker Beechcraft’s
T-6B military trainer.

“We are well positioned in situational awareness, and not many companies can offer both EVS and EFBs,” he added. CMC is working on a new sensor for its EVS, and Rockwell Collins has selected the company’s 10-inch EFB display.

One of the main goals of the FronTier R&D effort will be to produce an Arinc 653-compliant core computer. CMC already has experience in this field for smaller Part 23-certified aircraft.

CMC started discussions with OEMs about its FronTier plans in 2007. Charland said  business aviation is a “natural first target” for FronTier products.