Gulfstreams, Falcons await cockpit upgrades

 - October 28, 2009, 12:51 PM

Honeywell is about to release two long-awaited avionics software upgrades, the first for Gulfstreams flying with the PlaneView cockpit and the other for Dassault Falcons equipped with the EASy flight deck, both of which are based on the avionics maker’s Primus Epic integrated avionics system.

In the large-cabin Gulfstreams, the software enhancement package is known as Certification Foxtrot. Dassault is calling its flight deck upgrade EASy II, the centerpiece of which will be the Honeywell SmartView synthetic-vision system.

The Cert. Foxtrot package (so named because it follows Cert. Echo, which followed Cert. Delta and so on) includes a new version of the PlaneView synthetic-vision primary flight display (SV-PFD) as well as an enhanced nav package, enhanced EGPWS display, XM graphical weather link and paperless charts.

Known as SV-PFD 2.0, the synthetic-vision improvements for PlaneView add extra runway detailing along with conformal range rings on the primary flight display and a grid-line overlay that enhances the sense of motion over the ground. Also new in SV-PFD 2.0 is EGPWS terrain overlaid on the HSI as well as TCAS and EGPWS pop-up alerts on the HSI.

A demonstration flight last month in a G550 underscored Honeywell’s claims that the synthetic-vision enhancements improve cockpit situational awareness. The range rings, for example, include distance readouts in nautical miles, plus an extended runway centerline with a numbered “breadcrumb trail” that tells pilots in an instant how far they are from the airport–or from a hill rise or obstacle between them and the runway.

Perhaps of even greater interest to Gulfstream operators will be the enhanced navigation package that the Cert. Foxtrot upgrade brings. The upgrade will add Waas LPV approach capability along with approval for RNP 0.1 “approval required” procedures, Fans 1/A oceanic datalink communications and new FMS features, including auto transition from long-range to short-range navigation (and vice versa), circling approaches and temperature-compensated Vnav.

“The great thing about this update is that it really brings the PlaneView-equipped Gulfstreams up to speed for NextGen,” said Chad Cundiff, Honeywell vice president for crew interface products. “All of the capability that the FAA is talking about six or seven years down the road, you’ve got that now with this program.”

Adding Waas LPV capability to the flight decks of large-cabin Gulfstreams is a long-overdue upgrade. More than 1,600 such approaches now exist in the U.S. The Rnav-based approach type provides minimums similar to a Category I ILS and eliminates the need to perform RAIM prediction calculations. The Honeywell system is fully compatible with the Egnos augmentation system in Europe and other future space-based navigation overlays, Cundiff said.

Required navigation performance approaches aren’t quite as commonplace as Waas LPV, but because they can provide curved pathways through the sky, they are arguably far more beneficial at the airports with RNP approval required (AR) procedures. So far the FAA has created RNP AR approaches at 50 U.S. airports and plans to add another 18 before year-end. Honeywell’s Go Direct Services has been created to help operators gain RNP AR approval, which requires special pilot training and record keeping.   

The addition of Fans 1/A capability to the PlaneView avionics suite will give Gulfstream operators more direct oceanic routings, which Cundiff said can shave as much as 30 minutes from a transatlantic crossing. The capability also reduces the chances of having ATC change an oceanic routing or require an altitude change when crossing tracks. The technology uses datalink messaging for communication between the crew and ATC, eliminating the need for long-range HF voice transmissions. A tone in the cockpit lets pilots know when they have received a new ATC message.

EASy II Debut

Due for certification early next year, the EASy II cockpit at last brings an SVS presentation to the Falcon series after Gulfstream became the first OEM to gain approval for such technology in a production Part 25 business jet last December.

In development for the last two-and-a-half years, the Dassault SVS upgrade adds to EASy many of the same synthetic enhancements that made their debut in the PlaneView cockpit, but SmartView for Dassault has a slightly different look.

The display symbology is similar to that found on the Falcon’s head-up guidance systems, including a conformal flight path marker, acceleration chevron and HUD-like attitude indications. This information is overlaid on a 3-D synthetic view of the world that includes the range rings, detailed terrain and extended runway centerline found in Gulfstream’s SV-PFD, but not the EGPWS or TCAS overlays on the HSI.

EASy II also brings Waas LPV approach capability to Falcons, as well as the ability
to secure RNP AR navigation approval and other advanced features, including a runway awareness system, auto-descent technology and XM graphical weather display. “Really, it’s a full complement of technologies that Dassault has added, all developed around the idea of improved safety,” said Woody Saland, manager of technical programs for Dassault Falcon.

RNP is an EASy II capability that is expected to catch on in a big way with operators in the future, Saland said. Still, only six Gulfstream operators have so
far secured RNP AR approval through Honeywell’s Go Direct Services, but more operators are expected to sign up for the special airworthiness and aircrew program as more RNP AR approaches are created. Flying such a procedure will require the use of an FMS with Honeywell’s 7.1 software, LaserRef inertial reference system, Waas-approved GPS receiver and EGPWS terrain alerting.

The EASy II cockpit will also include an auto-descent mode feature that can activate automatically in the event of cabin depressurization at high altitude. Developed as a safeguard should a crew become incapacitated by decompression (as famously happened in the case of the Payne Stewart Learjet crash 10 years ago), the technology lets the autopilot guide the aircraft to a lower altitude at “maximum velocity” to reach a height with sufficient outside atmospheric pressure for breathing.  

Dassault is also introducing Honeywell’s SmartRunway system in EASy II, which was developed in response to concern over surface incursions and approach and landing accidents. Developed primarily to protect against runway incursions, SmartRunway also warns crews if they are about to land on a runway that is
too short or make an intersection takeoff and provides voice callouts for distance to go during landing and rejected takeoffs. The SmartRunway database includes more than 12,000 airports worldwide with runways more than 3,500 feet long.