EBACE Convention News

Honeywell going full throttle on avionics, engine upgrades

 - May 11, 2009, 5:00 AM

Honeywell is closing in on software certification for a host of long-awaited avionics upgrades that are intended to expand the capabilities of many Gulfstream and Dassault business jets.

The Phoenix, Arizona-based avionics manufacturer reports it is wrapping up simulator and flight testing that will add functionality for future air navigation system (FANS1/A); wide-area augmentation system localizer performance with vertical guidance (WAAS LPV); and required navigation performance special aircraft and aircrew authorization required (RNP SAAAR) operations in PlaneView-equipped Gulfstreams. Honeywell also said it has delivered “load software” for these capabilities to Dassault, along with the promised synthetic-vision upgrade for EASy-equipped Falcons.

FANS1/A, used on oceanic flight routes, enables text-based datalink communications between pilots and controllers. WAAS LPV is a new type of GPS instrument approach in the U.S. that provides ILS-like landing minimums (as low as 200-foot decision altitude) without the need to erect costly ground stations. There are now more than 1,300 WAAS LPV approaches in the U.S., versus fewer than 1,000 ILS approaches. RNP SAAAR is a special type of procedure that allows appropriately equipped aircraft flown by appropriately trained crews to fly extremely precise (0.1 nm lateral accuracy) tracks, including curved approach courses. The FAA permits Honeywell to assist aircraft operators seeking RNP SAAAR approval through its recently launched Go Direct Services.

Honeywell expects to receive the technical standard order for the enhanced functionality in the Gulfstream G350, G450, G500 and G550 in July. Additional functionality coming to the Gulfstream cockpits through the software updates includes electronic airport maps and synthetic-vision system enhancements including range rings.  Honeywell also plans to release its Version 6.1 FMS software for the GIV/IV-SP and GV, an upgrade that will enable FANS1/A, RNP and WAAS LPV operations. As part of that upgrade, operators can opt to remove their in-cockpit CRTs and replace them with DU-885 flat-panel LCDs for support of XM graphical weather and electronic navigational chats.

The EASy Phase II cockpit for Dassault is scheduled to be certified late this year in the Falcon 900, 2000 and 7X, with the FANS1/A capability to follow early next year. The update will bring the same synthetic-vision capabilities to the cockpits of Falcon jets that Gulfstream PlaneView operators have had for the past year. Synthetic vision creates a virtual, 3-D view of the world, including hills, mountains, runways and bodies of water, presented on the primary flight displays. Honeywell was the first avionics maker to gain certification for the product–called synthetic vision-primary flight display–in a production Part 25 business jet. Garmin, Universal Avionics and Cobham also offer SVS-based cockpits.

As part of the Dassault upgrade program, operators of Falcon 900EX models equipped with older Honeywell Primus 2000XP avionics can opt to add the DU-875 flat-panel displays.

Technology Drive Continues
Despite tough market conditions, Honeywell remains committed to further heavy investment in technological advances. “We keep the focus on how we can ensure we support our customers and how we keep on offering them breakthrough technology,” business aviation president Rob Wilson told EBACE Convention News. “Safety, productivity and certainty of operation are the top three priorities of our development work.”

For instance, the drive for greater safety is now resulting in improved situational awareness for pilots with Honeywell’s synthetic- vision system having been in recent flight tests in the PlaneView-equipped cockpits of the Gulfstream 350, 450 and 550 models.

“We take the aircraft up at night to show pilots and once the synthetic vision is turned off, that’s when they really know they want it,” said Wilson. “There are systems out there that are not really synthetic vision. Ours is based on our EGPWS worldwide database and then superimposed on HUD symbology. It will be standard equipment on the new G650.”

Also standard on the G650 will be Honeywell’s RDR4000 true-3-D, multi-scan, full-color radar that has already been provided for much larger aircraft such as the Airbus A380 and the Boeing 777. The radar has range out to 320 nm and can scan 1.5 cubic miles of airspace, dicing data and showing it in three dimensions. “It shows where the storm cells and rough weather are in terms of height, width and depth,” Wilson explained.

According to Wilson, the radar also has environmental benefits in that less fuel is burned by operators whose crews don’t have to fly so far around a storm because they have more accurate information about it. Technically, the main challenge in applying a radar of this level of sophistication to business jets has been in having an antenna system of an acceptable size.

Honeywell is providing just about the entire content of the G650 content and it will represent the most advanced example yet of PlaneView avionics suite. This will feature a next-generation flight management system being designed to meet the needs of both the European SESAR and U.S. Next Generation Air Transportation System air traffic management platforms.

Also in the cockpit is the runway awareness system, of which Honeywell has now supplied more than 1,400 units to business aircraft. “Recent runway incursion events have put this very much in the minds of pilots, especially since they have to go to such varied destinations, where the airports are often unfamiliar.

In the engines part of its portfolio, Wilson said that Honeywell wants “to continue to build its technology tool chest” around the HTF family of turbofans. For instance, it wants to offer a lower-emissions combustor unit but is having to be mindful of the trade off in terms of performance. At the same time, the company is continuing efforts to boost the performance of engine hot sections. Versions of the HTF7000 engine are now being developed for Embraer’s new Legacy 450 and 500 jets.

Next up on this front are some new biofuel tests on engines and APUs. Wilson believes that there are elements within the business aviation community that may have an appetite for this sort of environmental initiative. “We are having to look at how it [the new fuel] would work with our equipment but also how the fuel would be distributed around the world and what the financial implications would be fore operators,” said Wilson.