Max-Viz Buy Moves Astronics Into New Markets
Astronics is forging ahead after purchasing enhanced vision system (EVS) maker Max-Viz in early August and recently signed an installation agreement with Hawker Beechcraft. Under the agreement, Hawker Beechcraft Global Customer Support will have the opportunity to install Max-Viz infrared EVS in any King Air equipped with an MFD that can display video images, according to Astronics president and CEO Peter Gundermann. Astronics has delivered its 600th Max-Viz EVS to Cirrus, and in early September Brazil’s regulator ANAC approved the Max-Viz 1500 EVS for installation in Rockwell Collins Pro Line 21-equipped King Airs.
The FAA issued an amended supplemental type certificate in October, expanding the installation opportunities for King Airs with video-capable MFDs, including avionics such as Avidyne’s Entegra Release 9, Garmin’s G500, G600 and G1000 and the Universal Avionics EFI-890R. “We think the world is coming around to understanding the benefits of EVS,” Gundermann said. “More and more OEMs think it’s an important option to offer customers, and Hawker Beechcraft is the latest to come around.”
Gundermann a pilot who flies a Max-Viz-equipped Cessna 421, sees his company’s EVS products eventually able to enable lower landing credit on instrument approaches. “For landing credit,” he said, “there are two paths forward. One path is increasing the capability of [infrared] sensors to see through obstructions. There’s an ongoing effort across the industry to do that. The other broad thrust is linking the capabilities of EVS with synthetic vision. The idea is that EVS may be used to confirm and verify the synthetic vision picture, which is otherwise not confirmed or verified.” In this way, even though the EVS infrared camera can’t pierce thick fog, if runway lights were equipped with emitters that are tuned to light up receptors on the airplane, he explained, the EVS view on the MFD would show exactly the location of the runway, confirming what the synthetic vision view tells the pilot. “There’s a whole effort underway to figure out how that might work,” he said. “It’s one of the capabilities that brought us to Max-Viz and why we liked the company enough to buy it.”
Astronics is demonstrating the Max-Viz product line at its NBAA booth (No. 5077) and also the company’s newest Empower product, a 110-volt power outlet for pilots and passengers that includes USB charging receptacles. “These are finding a ready home in business jets,” Gundermann said. “People are carrying more personal electronics and not wanting to get off the flight with a fully depleted system. It’s been a long time since I’ve made a flight without my iPad. We think that’s a positive and growing market for us, both for pilots and passengers.”
Apart from products like EVS and Empower outlets, Astronics systems form the electronic backbone of the newest Learjet, the model 85. The company’s electronic power distribution system, first developed for the Eclipse 500 very light jet, replaces traditional mechanical circuit breakers and the heavy wires that run into the cockpit with electronic circuit breakers and lighter, safer digital signal wires to the cockpit. “That’s a technology we think there’s lot of demand for in the next generation of airplanes,” said Gundermann. “[On the Learjet 85] we describe it this way: the airplane has two brains, one is avionics/navigation, the other is the electrical distribution system. We touch and control pretty much everything on board, and we have to be closely involved throughout the development process.”