IS&S seeks Citation panel STC

 - June 3, 2009, 5:01 AM

Innovative Solutions & Support is preparing to submit the FAA paperwork necessary to secure a supplemental type certificate allowing installations of the Exton, Pa. firm’s AdViz Cessna Citation retrofit avionics system.

A Citation V completed its first test flight with the IS&S cockpit in April, following two years of development. STC approval is expected this month.

In January 2007, Cessna chose IS&S as the flat-panel display system provider for a glass cockpit retrofit program it is making available through all authorized Cita- tion service centers. The program replaces aging flight instruments with the AdViz display system, resulting in reduced weight, better reliability and high-tech additions such as XM Weather, navigation charts, remote radio tuning and infrared enhanced vision.

The AdViz system will initially be available for purchase through the nine Cessna-owned Citation Service Centers, and will later be distributed through the Cessna authorized network of 34 shops. Eventually it will be certified for the Cessna Citation 500/501, 550/551, S550, 560 and 650. The cockpit includes either two or three displays, each measuring six by eight inches. Price for the upgrade is targeted to be around $300,000, including installation.

The first successful flight of the retrofitted Citation V was made on April 6, 2009, with Cessna test pilot Rick Trissell at the controls. “The AdViz glass cockpit exceeded my expectations,” Trissell said. “The crisp symbology and clarity of the displays, along with additional navigation aids, will enhance situational awareness in flight.”

The market for cockpit retrofits has cooled with the economy’s troubles, but there continues to be pent-up demand from Citation operators looking to add the latest technology to their cockpits. “The interest in a glass cockpit at this price for the straight-wing Citations remains high,” said IS&S president Roman Ptakowski. He added that his company has been holding discussions with other installation centers about bringing a version of IS&S’s Vantage cockpit to older Hawkers, Falcons and Challengers. Most cockpit retrofit choices for Part 25 business jets cost hundreds of thousands of dollars more than the target price of the AdViz system.

The Cessna Citation retrofit cockpit certification process comes at a good time for IS&S, which is still feeling the sting of last year’s Eclipse Aviation liquidation. Eclipse tapped IS&S to supply displays for the Eclipse 500 after removing avionics integrator Avidyne from the project. Now IS&S finds itself enmeshed in a cockpit program that has been orphaned because of a bad economy and decisions by former Eclipse managers.

Of the 259 Eclipse 500 twinjets delivered, none is fully functional. Some early airplanes still need aerodynamic and engine upgrades, and many also are waiting for the change from the original Avidyne avionics to the latest IS&S glass panels. And none has received the final avionics upgrade–dual Garmin 400W navigators providing GPS capability.

Eclipse 500s can still be flown, as long as they are airworthy. But Eclipse 500s that have been modified with the IS&S instrument panel are stuck without available navigation databases, which were distributed by Eclipse. Since this update is not available from Eclipse, approach capability is limited. IS&S and Avidyne are waiting for the dust from the Eclipse implosion to settle before deciding how best to assist aircraft owners.