Universal eyes larger rotary world presence
Universal Avionics Systems, long known primarily for innovation in fixed-wing flight management systems (FMS) and electronic displays, is in Houston this week seeking to expand an already growing presence in the world of rotorcraft.
Robert Clare, director of OEM marketing for Tucson, Ariz.-based Universal, said the company is at Heli-Expo spotlighting two recent achievements: TSO certification of its newest cockpit voice/flight data recorder (CVFDR) technology and progress toward FAA approval to conduct published instrument approaches to offshore oil platforms using Universal FMS to execute Waas GPS-based procedures.
“We’re here to establish a larger presence, starting with our new [exhibit hall] display, which is quite a bit bigger than we’ve had in the past now that we’re getting a little deeper into the rotorcraft market,” Clare observed. He noted that Universal’s new CVFDR equipment–offered both as separate voice and data recorders and as a combined unit–gained TSO approval in November, initially for installation on Sikorsky S-76C++ and S-76D helicopters. The recorders meet a federal mandate for equipage of aircraft with 10 or more seats and having datalink recording capability by this April. A key part of the requirement is an independent power supply able to keep a recorder operating for 10 minutes after an aircraft electrical power loss. Universal meets this requirement, Clare noted, not with weight-adding batteries but with patented capacitance technology built into the unit that imposes “almost no weight addition” to a combined cockpit voice and data recording package of just under nine pounds. The Universal CVFDR technology is initially focused on type certificate amendment at the OEM level, but may later be pointed toward retrofit applications via the STC process, Clare said.
He noted that the Waas GPS published approaches to offshore rigs will be initially applicable to the Sikorsky S-92, on which Universal is working with Sikorsky to gain initial operational capability. The procedures will be hand-flown using Universal FMS guidance, with a longer-range goal of flying autopilot- coupled approaches.
At Booth No. 3823 a mockup of an S-76 panel shows how a retrofit with Universal 890 series electronic displays can transform a middle-aged machine. Attendees can also get a literal hands-on feel for the light weight and compactness of the voice/data recorders.