Pilots embracing low-cost EVS

 - September 30, 2008, 8:18 AM

Infrared enhanced-vision systems (EVS) optimized to provide greater situational awareness for business aircraft are finding an increasing number of applications as evidenced by the activity reported by EVS suppliers exhibiting at NBAA’08.

A significant amount of activity is occurring at the lower end of the EVS market, where Max-Viz of Tigard, Ore., and L-3 Avionics are both featuring IR camera installations priced to sell for turboprops and piston twins. Max-Viz is at Booth No. 1551 with a new $15,000 EVS-100 system, along with its EVS-1000 and recently introduced EVS-1500. Operational Max-Viz EVS products are running in a number of dealer and display manufacturers’ booths. L-3 Avionics is in the L-3 Communications booth (No. 4200), featuring its $15,000 IRIS EVS, which it calls “the first low-cost enhanced-vision system for general aviation.”

Max-Viz is coordinating introduction of the EVS-100 for general aviation with ForwardVision, a Pennsylvania EVS maker. The EVS-100 is a 2.5-pound system with an uncooled IR sensor housed in a self-contained fairing. Forward Vision has programs in place for EVS-100 factory installation options with Aviat-Husky, CompAir, Lancair and Maule, with supplemental certification efforts under way including a project for the Cessna 172.

Additional Displays
Additional approvals will be included on a models list addendum for other high-wing Cessna aircraft. Video displays available for EVS-100 include the new Flight Display Systems’ “Flipper” LCD, the Sagem multifunction display (MFD) and Avidyne’s PFD4000 cockpit display, introduced at EAA AirVenture in Oshkosh, Wis.
The L-3 Avionics Iris was certified in April for flight aboard many of the King Air 90, 100, 200 and 300 series turboprop twins. L-3 reports other certifications in progress for Pilatus PC-12 and TBM-700 singles as well as Bell 206 and 407 rotorcraft. The 1.7-pound Iris camera also uses an uncooled IR sensor that, for initially certified installations, feeds video to a Honeywell KMD-850 MFD. L-3 Avionics adds that the King Air STC “allows display on any FAA certified cockpit display” that accepts an appropriate RS-170 video input. The Iris sensor, with a 24-degree horizontal field of view, was originally developed for automotive use.

Moving up to jets, the Max-Viz EVS-1500 is a new version of the EVS-1000 for the business jet (and turbine helicopter) market, a “form-fit” upgrade that features an optically magnified dual field-of-view capability encompassing both the standard EVS- 1000’s 53-degree-wide field of view and an added cockpit switch to zoom in onto a magnified 30-degree view ahead of the aircraft.

Other added EVS-1500 features include greater detector sensitivity and resolution, plus added image processing capability. Max-Viz said the zoom feature is exclusive to the market, combining an ideal peripheral view for ground taxi awareness and a wide-angle picture of airports during final approach with more close-up imagery of the full runway at longer distances. Pilot reports from those who have operated both EVS-1000 and EVS-1500 systems have been generally positive regarding the new EVS-1500 capabilities, according to Chuck Crompton, Max-Viz v-p for sales and marketing. Some pilots, however, have complained of EVS drawbacks, such as grainy images and the inability of the camera systems to see through certain types of low visibility.

Production deliveries of the EVS-1500 are in full swing, and initial installations have been completed on the Global Express, Falcon 900, AgustaWestland AW139, Bell 206 and Boeing 737. Amendments to add the new EVS-1500 to existing fixed-wing aircraft EVS-1000 STCs are under way for the Challenger 600 series, Gulfstream III/IV/V, Pilatus PC-12, King Air, Falcon 2000s and Cessna Citations.

FAA approvals for Max-Viz EVS-1000 systems currently cover more than 40 aircraft types and models. The majority of these STCs will add EVS-1500 approval over the months ahead, Crompton said. New Cessna Citation and Caravan EVS-1500 certifications are under way, along with approvals for CL-215/415 fire-attack applicators and the Bombardier Challenger 300. For the Challenger 300, the IR camera-sensor is installed behind the upper radome, and video is displayed on two 6.4-inch LCDs.

For the rotary-wing market, Max-Viz EVS systems are now available as OEM type certification options at AgustaWestland, Bell, Eurocopter and Sikorsky. A number of other STC amendments covering the EVS-1500 are also in place for helicopter certifications, including the Bell 206/407 and Bell 212/412. Other new EVS-1500 certification activities also under way include the Sikor-sky S-76 models up through the C++, the Agusta AW139 and A109, Bell 222/230/430 and the Eurocopter EC 135.

Enhanced Vision on EFBs
Crompton said a significant percentage of Gulfstream, Falcon, Global Express and Challenger installations now display EVS video on dual-use electronic flight bag portable computers. Some popular EFB choices for EVS display include Universal Avionics, CMC and Goodrich units, with other EFB suppliers also beginning to offer EVS display capability, he said, adding that manufacturers of primary flight and multifunction EFIS displays have new options for integrating Max-Viz EVS on larger main instrument panel displays. Universal Avionics EFI-890R MFDs with video capability for EVS are already in use. Other EFIS suppliers bringing EVS capability on board include Honeywell, Sagem, Innovative Solutions & Support and Rockwell Collins with its retrofit version of Pro Line 21.

At the other end of the operating spectrum, Kollsman, exhibiting at Elbit Systems of America’s booth (No. 3113), recently announced that its EVS displayed on a head-up display can now allow Gulfstream pilots to descend below published minimums to a 100-foot DH in Europe after EASA adopted standards matching those used in the U.S. since 2004. The EASA approval lets pilots continue an approach to that height if they can see the EVS approach light and runway environment imagery on the HUD. More than 400 Gulfstreams have been equipped with EVS. Gulfstream has said that the Kollsman EVS II, with a cryogenically cooled IR sensor, will be standard on new-production G550s and G450s, and as an option on G500s and G350s. The EVS II is 22 pounds lighter, with four times memory of its predecessor.