NBAA Convention News

CMC goes into new FronTier

 - October 22, 2009, 9:19 AM

CMC Electronics is buoyed by recent selections of its new infrared enhanced-vision system (EVS), satellite communications antennas and electronic flight bags (EFB) by airframe manufacturers, as well as by what it envisions as a promising business outlook. The Montreal-based subsidiary of Esterline is also here introducing its new president, Greg Yeldon, who this August moved into the top spot from vice president of finance after nearly 15 years with the company.

“CMC is extremely well positioned [in the industry],” Yeldon said, citing a diversity strategy adopted post-9/11, which has led to a portfolio balanced between OEM and retrofit markets and a “50-50 split between military and commercial. I think we’re on a strong path.” He added that unlike many in the aerospace industry, CMC has avoided major layoffs. “We had a minimal reduction in May, centered on our commercial manufacturing area. We hope to recall those people fairly soon. Overall, our workforce has grown considerably in the past two to three years.”

The one-time Canadian Marconi company is in Orlando this week (Booth No. 4137) flying a banner labeled “FronTier,” which Bruce Bailey, CMC’s vice president of commercial aviation, called “the umbrella program for our new cockpit technology that covers all of our products.”

CMC hopes to have its FronTier integrated cockpit system in service by the end of 2013. It expects the system to challenge Honeywell’s Primus Epic and the Rockwell Collins Pro Line systems in the Part 25 business jet market. Early this year the company said that in the next five years it plans to invest $120 million in FronTier research and development, $42 million of that total coming from the Canadian government’s Innovation and Technology Office.

Key FronTier system goals include lower cost of ownership and giving OEMs greater flexibility and control over cockpit systems. Gérald Charland, CMC’s vice president for strategy and business development, said head-up displays (HUD) and navigation system advances will be FronTier cornerstones. “Situational awareness will be key,” he told NBAA Convention News. “We want pilots flying head up all the time. From 2013 on, head-up displays will be standard equipment.” A main FronTier R&D goal will be to produce an Arinc 653-compliant core computer, he said. CMC has experience in this field for Part 23-certified aircraft. Charland added that business aviation is a “natural first target” for FronTier products.

CMC intends to incorporate its existing product portfolio into FronTier designs, including GPS, flight management systems (FMS), EVS and EFBs. “Not many companies can offer both EVS and EFBs,” Charland said. All current CMC EFBs can display EVS video, he said.

Cryogenically Cooled Sensor
The company also is working on a cryogenically cooled EVS sensor that promises a 250-percent improvement in image resolution. The new CMA-2700 EVS, which evolved from the CMA-2600 system and features a higher speed processor, has been selected by Bombardier for the Global jet’s Rockwell Collins Fusion avionics system. The device uses an array of indium antimonide sensors and new algorithms that extract additional information from the raw imagery through digital processing to achieve greater display contrast and resolution. At the Esterline/CMC booth, NBAAers can see a video loop showing flight-test footage from the EVS.

Regarding the lower priced uncooled EVS that CMC announced at NBAA two years ago, Bailey said, “We have placed it in a few applications, but we have invested most of our time on the cooled sensor in order to get the landing credits,” which the FAA grants in the form of lower landing minimums for aircraft equipped with high-resolution EVS displayed on a HUD.

System Coupling
 “We’re bringing our FMS to an even higher level of coupling with onboard systems,” Bailey said. “Our GPS investments in technologies such as Waas and Galileo are paying off with recent orders from OEMs like Bombardier, Dassault and Boeing.”

He added that Esterline CMC is offering more satellite communications antenna products to take advantage of the next generation of Inmarsat satellite technology. In long-range transport aircraft, CMC has 80 percent of the satcom antenna market, he said. Bailey also noted that the company’s latest high-gain antenna for Inmarsat-4 is now being certified on several platforms.

The antenna’s design goal has been “to maximize gain and get even more throughput for the customer.” Bailey noted that it optimizes gain at high latitudes on polar routes where look angles between satellite and antenna are large. CMC said it has created a “virtual bigger” antenna through creative use of physical shaping and electronics core technology to achieve sufficient bandwidth to fully employ the Inmarsat-4 satellite’s capability.