TrueNorth Simplifies FANS With Iridium Data Link Unit

EBACE Convention News » 2014
TrueNorth’s FANS 1/A-capable data link unit has achieved RTCA DO-178B level-D software certification and is on track to earn a TSO.
TrueNorth’s FANS 1/A-capable data link unit has achieved RTCA DO-178B level-D software certification and is on track to earn a TSO.
May 17, 2014, 4:00 AM

TrueNorth Avionics is on track to receive the first FAA technical standard order (TSO) certification for its new FANS 1/A-capable Simphone data link unit (DLU), which enables FANS-over-Iridium communication over oceanic routes. The new DLU has already achieved RTCA DO-178B level-D software certification, and the TSO is expected shortly.

The TrueNorth DLU solution has been selected for a fleet of head-of-state Airbus jets equipped with Esterline CMC FMSs and the DLU is available for installation in all types of aircraft that need to add FANS (future air navigation system) communications capability for expeditious routing on oceanic flight tracks.

TrueNorth (Booth 4441) paved the way for development of the DLU when it began selling its Iridium-based ACARS/AFIS interface in 2007. “When we developed that we had the mindset that someday we would be able to do FANS,” said TrueNorth CEO Mark van Berkel. “But back in 2006/2007 there was no TSO, no standard and loosely based MOPS [minimum operational performance standards]. We decided to build an architecture that could one day meet that requirement. This is now the fulfillment of that vision.”

What this means is that for business jets already equipped with TrueNorth’s Iridium-based ACARS/AFIS interface, the upgrade path to DLU capability needed for FANS 1/A is a simple software change. The unit just needs to be sent to TrueNorth for a firmware upgrade, then it is ready for a FANS package.

Full FANS 1/A capability, including controller pilot data link communication (CPDLC), will require a supplemental type certificate (STC), but having the DLU already capable is a big step toward meeting FANS requirements. The STC will also need to include an FMS capable of the texting-style messaging needed for FANS/CPDLC and a cockpit voice recorder that can store FANS messages, but the DLU also offers Arinc 429 interfaces, which allow it to work with many different types of FMSs.

In addition to the Airbus upgrades, van Berkel said, “We’ve got another couple of STC projects on the go and we will announce these over the next few months. In the business aviation world there’s a lot of demand for FANS over Iridium.”

The TrueNorth DLU is a standalone system designed strictly for the cockpit and thus has a single dedicated Iridium channel. “When it comes to separation between the cockpit and the cabin, it’s important not to intermingle software,” he explained.

TrueNorth also makes satcom and telephony products for the cabin, all of which can be seen at the company’s EBACE booth (4441). The retail price for the new DLU is $26,630, which will include certification to TSO C159a.

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