Paris 2011: Esterline CMC shows glass cockpits, FMS and EFBs

Paris Air Show » 2011
June 19, 2011, 7:10 PM

At this year’s Paris Air Show, Esterline CMC Electronics (Hall 5 Stand 242) is showing, for the first time, the Cockpit 9000 avionics suite selected as an upgrade for Lockheed Martin C-130 cockpits. CMC also is highlighting the Cockpit 4000 system, the SmartDeck general aviation integrated avionics suite, recent FMS wins, the TacView military EFB and a new addition to the executive team, Claude Chidiac, vice president of customer support and strategic development.

‘The C-130 market has been a real strength for CMC,” said president Greg Yeldon. So far the system has been installed in seven C-130s–six for the Royal Saudi Air Force and one for the Fuerza Aérea de Chile. The Royal Saudi Air Force has a total of 23 orders and Chile two for the Cockpit 9000, and there are 10 international customers. Hundreds of C-130s qualify for the Cockpit 9000 package, said Yeldon. “We see more opportunity out there and we’re working hard at those.”

The all-digital Cockpit 9000 suite is built around the company’s latest generation flight management system (FMS)–the CMA-9000. This FMS has been certified by Transport Canada with fully coupled vertical-navigation capability for the Sukhoi Superjet 100. The Superjet 100 is equipped with dual installation CMA-9000 FMSs, which includes multi-sensor-based navigation and enhanced operational capability.

The Cockpit 4000, a fully integrated glass cockpit featuring CMC’s SparrowHawk HUD, is designed for the trainer market and is on display in a number of aircraft at the Paris Air Show, including the Hawker Beechcraft T-6B and AT-6. The Cockpit 4000 also flies in or has been ordered for the Pilatus PC-7, PC-9M and PC-21, Aermacchi M-311, Korea Aerospace Industries KT-1C and BAE Hawk Mk51/A and Mk66. So far, CMC has delivered more than 200 Cockpit 4000 systems to Hawker Beechcraft.

Another Paris first for CMC Esterline is the SmartDeck integrated cockpit, which CMC licensed from L-3 Avionics last October. “We have been transitioning that into CMC since October and that’s going very well,” Yeldon said. No OEM has selected SmartDeck yet, he said, “but there’s been a lot of activity surrounding this acquisition and everything’s been positive with respect to the response from the market and the opportunities that I see for us.” CMC is retaining the SmartDeck name for the avionics system, which brings technologies like synthetic vision, an intuitive user interface, electronic charts, datalink weather and enhanced vision system to general aviation cockpits.

CMC Esterline’s key FMS product line continues to develop and will incorporate NextGen capabilities as the FAA’s new air traffic control system phases into widespread use over the coming decade. CMC’s FMS on the Sukhoi Superjet 100, which was certified in Russia in January, is also installed on the Sikorsky Black Hawk and a number of Eurocopter helicopters. “We see a lot of opportunity on the FMS front for retrofits,” he said.

On the military front, CMC’s TacView portable mission display “is gaining a significant amount of acceptance within the military community,” according to Yeldon. “There has been a lot of activity this year.” In fact, CMC already has a contract from Northrop Grumman to supply TacView for the U.S. Air National Guard and Air Force Reserve Command real-time information in the cockpit (RTIC) program. The contract covers dual installations of the TacView system on board a total of 32 C-130H aircraft, with deliveries already begun this month and planned for completion by October.

The touchscreen TacView display is night-vision compatible and offers a variety of capabilities for displaying mission information, including moving maps with tactical overlays, mission planning, navigation and approach charts, checklists, live video and CMC’s I-Series enhanced vision system.

Esterline CMC’s commercial EFBs have been installed in more than 40 aircraft types, and Yeldon doesn’t see Apple’s iPad affecting CMC’s EFB business. “We’re in the higher-end Class 2 [and 3] EFB market,” he said, “which is still demanding aviation-grade certified products. The customers we’re talking to, the positions we’re on, they’re not seeing the iPad as an alternative. There is a difference in terms of the level of certification that our customers want from our product.”

In the aerospace marketplace, Esterline CMC is benefiting from growth in the airline and military segments, while business aviation remains stable, although Yeldon said, “that is starting to turn in the right direction.” CMC’s revenues are split 50/50 between commercial and military markets. “We’re not dependent on one customer or one key program,” he said. “The military trainer program is important to us. The retrofit portion, as budgets are under pressure, represents an opportunity to CMC. Large new aircraft builds may be slowing down, but aircraft need to be upgraded to meet current requirements.”

CMC has not yet tapped the growing unmanned aerial system market, but “it’s on a watch list,” said Yeldon. “As UAVs fly more in commercial airspace they’re going to need more commercial capability. It’s not a market that we’re in today, but is something we have looked at. As any opportunity presents itself, we would look into that.”

Looking at new opportunities will be the job of newly hired vice president of customer support and strategic development Claude Chidiac, who most recently was vice president of business development for business aviation at StandardAero and, before that, managing director for Grob Aerospace USA. “He’ll be looking at areas that we could potentially get into,” said Yeldon, “new products, new markets and adjacent technologies. We’re looking forward to his contributions.”

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