The U.S. has the finest aviation system in the world. As we enter the 21st century, a major challenge for the FAA will be to maintain its global preeminence in civil aviation in an era of increasing traffic volume and major technological advancements. To meet this challenge the FAA is modernizing the National Airspace System (NAS) and associated regulations. Central to this effort is the development of the NAS architecture.
Avionics and ATC
New developments and products in avionics, specifically about aircraft electronics in the cockpit; and news, issues, personnel, equipment and developments about air traffic management.
A little known FAA policy statement, dated June 1 of this year, stands to dramatically change the helicopter industry as we know it. Helicopter pilots and manufacturers have long known the unique capabilities of rotorcraft, but have always been obligated to follow regulations and policies set forth and to operate in airspace designed for the much more prevalent fixed-wing aircraft.
Honeywell is on the verge of gaining FAA certification approval for retrofit versions of its Primus Epic integrated avionics suite. Targeting older medium and heavy business jets, Primus Epic CDS/R (control display system/retrofit) has been developed to transform steam-gauge-driven dinosaurs into state-of-the-art hot rods capable of meeting airspace operating requirements for the next decade or more.
Innovative Solutions & Support continues its aggressive certification schedule for RVSM equipment for business aircraft.
Duncan Aviation, the Lincoln, Neb. company that specializes in avionics STCs and installations, has prepared a free booklet titled Straight Talk About RVSM (reduced vertical separation minimums). The booklet describes how RVSM implementation affects corporate operators and includes an explanation of regulatory requirements, a list of scheduled implementation dates and answers to a series of frequently asked questions.
The FAA later this year will begin asking avionics makers to submit bids for competitive contracts to produce prototype radio interface units (RIU) and ground network interface units (GNIU) for demonstrations of the next-generation air/ground communications (Nexcom) program. FAA’s Nexcom program office is overseeing the transition to the future digital voice/data VHF radios, paving the way for controller-pilot datalink communications (CPDLC).
Efforts by a Newburgh, N.Y. company to put AWOS readouts on the Internet have met with limited success, but a major AWOS manufacturer gives the idea a good review.
Many operators are installing 406-MHz emergency locator transmitters in place of the 121.5-MHz units as the January 1 deadline approaches on a new regulation (FAR 91.207) that requires all U.S.-registered jets with maximum payloads of less than 18,000 pounds–virtually all business jets except business jetliners–to be equipped with an ELT.
Weather-data provider Meteorlogix introduced AviationWatch, a so-called “smart weather” briefing and alerting service for pilots that can be accessed on the ground and in the cockpit. Meteorlogix currently powers MxVision AviationSentry for a number of FBOs and corporate flight departments and maintains an online product that gives subscribers access to weather data over the Internet.
Rockwell Collins, known primarily for its avionics products, will enter the simulator market by acquiring NLX Holding from Arlington Capital Partners, a Washington, D.C. private-equity firm. NLX, based in Sterling, Va., builds civil and military simulators and has provided business aircraft simulators to SimuFlite and Pan Am International Flight Academy.