Sandel’s LED technology applied to all its products

NBAA Convention News » 2007
September 21, 2007, 6:46 AM

Sandel Avionics (Booth No. 953) has announced that the patented light-emitting diode (LED) backlighting electronic flight instrument technology it unveiled last year at NBAA’06 will be applied across its entire current product line.

The high-definition display technology, which, according to Sandel CEO Gerry Block, features pixel density twice that of large-format glass cockpit standards, is available not only in the company’s new 4-ATI SA4550 attitude indicator and the SA4500 HSI introduced last year but also can be retrofitted into the company’s SN3500 3-ATI navigation displays.

Sandel is upgrading its entire line of current products with LED backlighting, making it the first all-LED avionics OEM in the industry, the company said. Block said the incorporation of the LED backlight technology brings higher dispatch reliability through a projected mean time between failures greater than 10,000 hours with significantly lower maintenance costs and aircraft downtime.

The new 4/5-ATI SA4550 and SN4500 electronic ADI and HSI replacement units, its SN3500 3-ATI electronic horizontal situation indicator (EHSI) and its best-selling ST3400 terrain avoidance warning system (TAWS) will afford increased brightness and product life.

The company is offering NBAA “show special” discount pricing, effective through Saturday, October 6. The deal reduces $3,000 from total list price for an SA4550 and SN4500 package, and $7,000 from the total list price for four boxes in any combination. For a new, upgraded LED 3-ATI SN3500 navigation display, the $10,950 sticker price is reduced to $10,300.

During a recent demonstration flight from Palomar-McClellan Airport, adjacent to Sandel’s Vista, Calif. plant, NBAA Convention News observed the direct sunlight and wide-angle viewability of the SA4550 and SN4500 electronic attitude director and horizontal situation indicators in the company’s Cessna Citation. As Block flew an ILS approch, we noted that compared to the existing five-inch indicators in the Citation’s panel, the Sandel units were easier to read and interpret.

The 4-ATI SA4550 and SN4500 displays are designed to fit either the standard four-inch panel cutout or replace five-inch legacy indicators. The narrow bezel and thus greater viewing area of the 4500-series indicators gives them virtually the same display size as the larger units they replace, Block said.

The SA4550 electronic ADI is available in specific versions with mounts and connectors for direct replacement of Rockwell Collins V-bar and Honeywell cross-pointer ADIs. Every LED display in the Sandel stable is panel-mounted. All necessary processing electronics are integrated within the indicator case.

Sandel is offering a customer upgrade program it calls the “All-World Customer Care LED Upgrade Plan” to owners of legacy SN3500 and ST3400 3-ATI systems. Owners of those displays can return them to Sandel’s factory to have the original bulb-based projection systems replaced by the LED backlight technology. Sandel will determine the cost on a prorated basis. Units purchased this year will be upgraded for free and, for units purchased before this year, the price will vary depending on length of ownership.

Block noted that he has developed the Sandel display line with a philosophy of
directly serving the aircraft owner/operator with aftermarket products that are physically and electronically identical “plug-and-play” replacements for legacy electromechanical and first-generation electronic displays. He explained that an owner can replace one indicator or several to upgrade functionality and reliability at far less cost than that of integrated systems from other manufacturers.

“There’s no need to tear a whole panel apart and have the airplane down for a month” when upgrading to Sandel indicators, Block said, adding that he strives for a “short, gentle learning curve” in the transition from electromechanical to electronic displays. Sandel accomplishes this by placing the new indicators in the same positions as the old ones so pilots can use the same instrument scan and ensuring that the new indicators replicate the original symbology as much as possible.

He said the company has no immediate plans to sell the instruments to airframe OEMs, but will continue serving an aftermarket clientele by offering equipment that is easy to install and use at competitive prices through the Sandel dealer network.

Block said, “LED systems are clearly the future in avionics displays, yielding such benefits as full-sunlight, 180-degree viewability, unmatched image quality, superior color reproduction and a service life greater than 10,000 hours for virtual elimination of maintenance. And our easy-to-install drop-in replacement packaging concept allows operators of business and air transport aircraft to update their panels to outperform anything else on the market, including large-format glass cockpits.”  

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