NBAA Convention News

CMC Testing Touchscreen Controller for SmartDeck Avionics Suite

 - October 29, 2012, 4:40 PM
SmartDeck Avionics Suite

Esterline CMC Electronics is asking NBAA attendees for feedback on its latest development, a touchscreen control and voice recognition system for its SmartDeck avionics suite. CMC is also showing its newest electronic flight bag (EFB) technology, which includes the ability to share flight plans and aircraft data with Apple iPads using CMC’s Tandem system.

Canada’s Cobalt Aircraft Industries has become the second OEM to select SmartDeck, for its Co50 five-place piston single. The Co50 SmartDeck suite will include two 12-inch displays, dual ADAHRS, Waas GPS, a dedicated 6.5-inch flight planning and radio management display, integrated digital autopilot and audio control system. Pilots will have access to modern features such as Taws-B, TCAS/traffic advisory system, satellite weather, lightning detection and synthetic vision. Certification of the Co50 is expected in 18 to 24 months. “It’s exciting for us to have a home in the piston world,” said Greg Plantz, SmartDeck director of marketing and sales.

The first OEM to specify a SmartDeck system was Evektor, for the EV-55 Outback twin turboprop. Evektor recently announced an order for nine EV-55s, with an option for 20 more, by Russian geophysical exploration company AeroGeo.

The portable SmartDeck demonstrator in the CMC booth will be used to evaluate user feedback, not only on SmartDeck but also the new touchscreen and voice recognition system that CMC is testing. The controller uses infrared beams to detect the user’s touch, not the capacitive touchscreen found on tablet computers and smartphones. It’s not a locked-in design,” said Plantz. “There are still some arguments for both [types]. Our human factors engineers are testing the waters.” Cobalt and Evektor aren’t incorporating the touch/voice controller in their SmartDecks, but, he added, “If it fits with their certification plan, we’ll try to offer these advanced features.”

On the flight bag front, CMC is taking advantage of the latest technology, including speedy Intel Core i7 processors, to add interesting new capabilities to its certified PilotView EFB platform. At its NBAA booth, CMC is demonstrating new 3-D rendering technology that helps pilots with positional awareness when flying into challenging terrain areas. The processor upgrade is a big jump from previous EFBs running Intel Pentium M or Celeron chips and allows CMC to add the new capabilities.

“We can run more apps simultaneously [on the EFBs],” said Jean-Marie Begis, EFB product line director. “Operators can use Jeppesen charts as well as other apps like terrain awareness, weather, moving maps, etc. It has a very powerful graphics processor.”