iPad Apps Are The Key To Honeywell Avionics Functionality

 - July 3, 2013, 1:45 AM

Wireless loading of avionics data is coming to Honeywell’s Primus Apex and Epic avionics suites, beginning with the Pilatus PC-12 NG. For the PC-12 NG the new wireless data loading system requires installation of an Aspen Avionics CG100P connected gateway device. In aircraft equipped with Epic avionics, hardware upgrades built into the aircraft’s avionics will facilitate wireless data loading, but a common interface for all Honeywell avionics suites will be a database loading application installed on Apple’s iPad. Such functionality will also be a feature on the new Pilatus PC-24 twinjet when it enters service in 2017.

The wireless data loading system using the iPad will replace cumbersome hardware-based updating systems. “This is something that the aerospace industry, particularly in the business jet arena, has made difficult for maintainers,” said Warren Nechtman, Honeywell director of integrated products and avionics strategy. Having to update nav databases every 14 or 28 days requires downloading data from a USB storage device or DVD onto special equipment, then plugging that into the aircraft. According to Nechtman, the airplane isn’t always easy to access, since it may be flying far away from equipment and personnel needed to accomplish the update, and the update process is not user-friendly and takes a lot of time. “Honeywell is after solving all three of those challenges,” he said.

Honeywell partnered with Jeppesen to design the functionality for the integrated navigation data service (INDS). “This INDS partnership with Jeppesen will transfer this [process] into something relatively easy and simple,” Nechtman said.

The first implementation of INDS in the PC-12 NG is slated to go live shortly and will be offered via a Pilatus service bulletin. The Aspen CG100P is already certified for installation in the PC-12 NG and was developed as an optimized version of Aspen’s CG100, which enables iPads to communicate with onboard avionics. Aspen, Honeywell, Jeppesen and Pilatus worked together on the PC-12 NG suite of applications, which include INDS and three other apps.

“Across the Honeywell avionics suite, we’ll be making this available airplane by airplane,” Nechtman said. “We are working with OEMs to make this capability available. We’ll be doing two things: cutting in the wireless data loaders forward fit, where the OEM thinks is the right insertion point on assembly lines, but also retrofit.” Adding the wireless data loader to existing Epic avionics suites will be possible for even the oldest Epic systems. “This [fits] in as a drop-in replacement and refreshes cockpit systems,” he said.

‘Pipeline of Apps’

The wireless database loading offered by INDS is just one function that the CG100P and iPad enable in the PC-12 NG and that will also be offered in Epic-equipped aircraft. “We’re also doing things on top of and independent of the Honeywell INDS Jeppesen partnership,” Nechtman said.

One of these offerings is iPad flight planning using Honeywell’s MyGDC app. “This allows crews, wherever they are in the world,” he said, “to create a flight plan, have it approved, walk into the cockpit and wirelessly transmit it into the aircraft.” The MyGDC app is available today and saves pilots from having to keypunch the flight plan into their flight management systems.

Apex and Epic avionics systems already have an integrated central maintenance computer (CMC), which captures systems and engine operating and fault data, but extracting that data is as cumbersome as using a hardware-based data loader to update a nav database. Operators will be able to use the iPad’s Maintenance Download app to download data from the CMC wirelessly, Nechtman said, “and have it available immediately for the maintenance department.”

For passengers with Apple iOS devices, the FlightPath app will show position information on a moving map, including speed, altitude and estimated time of arrival.

“What we’re introducing is an app-ready cockpit,” he said. “There’s a whole series of apps that we need to develop and get certified. INDS is one of the first, and there are three others coming to market. We have a pipeline of apps.”

Nechtman added that Honeywell is planning to develop similar apps for Android devices. “We’re launching on the iPad,” he said. “It’s where most of our customers are today, but other platforms are inevitable.”

“We are pleased to offer a solution to our pilots, owners, operators and maintenance personnel who demand greater productivity and less downtime in their PC-12 NG,” said Ignaz Gretener, vice president of Pilatus Aircraft’s general aviation business unit.