NBAA Convention News

Gulfstreams, Falcons await cockpit upgrades

 - October 18, 2009, 1:07 PM

Honeywell is nearing the approval finish line for major avionics software upgrades in Gulfstreams flying with PlaneView avionics and Dassault Falcons equipped with the EASy cockpit, both of which are based on the avionics maker’s Primus Epic integrated flight deck.

In the large-cabin Gulfstreams, the software enhancement package is known as Certification Foxtrot, while Dassault is calling its flight deck upgrade EASy II, the centerpiece of which is the Honeywell SmartView synthetic-vision system. Both modifications bring a host of long-promised advanced capabilities to the airplanes, while also allowing Honeywell to put some technological distance between itself and its competitors, namely Rockwell Collins, which is still more than a year from certifying an SVS of its own.

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 demo flight earlier this 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, considering that 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 the end of the year. 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 family after Gulfstream became the first OEM to gain approval for such technology in a production Part 25 business jet in December 2008. In development for the last two and half years, the Dassault SVS upgrade adds many of the same synthetic enhancements to EASy 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 the Falcon family, 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 also will 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 a number of years ago), the technology lets the autopilot guide the aircraft to a lower altitude at “maximum velocity” to reach a height with sufficient outside oxygen for breathing.

Dassault is also introducing Honeywell’s SmartRunway system in EASy, which was developed in response to concern over surface incursions and approach and landing accidents. Developed primarily to protect against runway incursion scenarios, 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.