Bombardier is developing an enhanced vision system with partners Thales Avioincs of France and CMC Electronics for its Global Express business jet, the Canadian airframer announced at an NBAA press conference yesterday. Flight testing of the system is expected to begin in the first quarter of next year, with customer availability expected in the first quarter of 2005. Texas Instrument’s flight department is the launch customer.
The Bombardier enhanced vision system (BEVS) will be offered as a standard feature on all new Global Express production airplanes delivered as of 2005 and will be available for retrofit through the Bombardier Business Aviation Services network. The price has not yet been fixed, although Bombardier president Peter Edwards said it would cost about $500,000. The Thales/CMC EVS will be the only such system offered on the Global, but Thales and CMC are free to market similar systems elsewhere.
Bombardier based its decision to develop an EVS on a survey of 15 Global Express operators, which showed that two-thirds of these operators were very interested in enhanced-vision systems and another 20 percent were “interested, but hesitant.” Customers also listed EVS as their top priority on a list of eight issues/actions for the Global Express. Improved situational awareness, particularly for operations at unfamiliar airports and during low-visibility operations, were cited as the main advantages. Being able to see other aircraft, vehicles and obstacles on the runway, both during final approach and taxi, were also frequently mentioned as benefits of EVS.
The Bombardier EVS for the Global will integrate the airplane’s Thales head-up display (said to be 28-percent larger than any other commercially available HUD) with a CMC SureSight forward-looking infrared sensor mounted in the nose just below the pilot’s windscreen. Additional pilot controls will be added to the existing HUD control panel and the image will also be transmitted to an existing multifunction display or flight management system, so that the copilot will be able to monitor the same view the pilot is seeing. Total system weight (HUD and infrared camera, but not including wiring) is expected to be 97 lb. Thales is responsible for the integration work.
The joint definition phase of the project began just last month. The flight test phase, expected to begin on a Bombardier Global Express test airplane, is estimated to require up to 200 flight hours. Thales will also conduct some flight testing on its own Cessna Conquest. Qualification testing for Transport Canada and the FAA is scheduled for the 2Q/04.
Bombardier said it selected Thales because of its integration and technological expertise as well as its experience on the Global Express HUD and flight control system. CMC Electronics was chosen as the sensor supplier because of the superior sensitivity of its IR sensor, the compact size, light weight and video processing capability of the system and CMC’s in-house manufacturing capability (the company has built more than 60,000 IR sensors for the military).