Advanced human-machine interfaces now making their debut on business jets are finding their way into helicopter cockpits.
While Gulfstream’s and Dassault’s top models are breaking the traditional mold with their advanced integrated cockpits, the Challenger 605 Bombardier introduced at the NBAA Convention last fall also features one of the more notable flight decks among in-development business airplanes.
French avionics maker Thales is in Toulouse developing an all-new flight deck for the ATR -600 series–the newly launched pair of upgrades to the now Honeywell-equipped ATR 42-500 and 72-500 regional turboprops. The new avionics suite features five 6- by 8-inch LCD displays and overall lighter hardware.
Weather-data provider Meteorlogix introduced AviationWatch, a so-called “smart weather” briefing and alerting service for pilots that can be accessed on the ground and in the cockpit. Meteorlogix currently powers MxVision AviationSentry for a number of FBOs and corporate flight departments and maintains an online product that gives subscribers access to weather data over the Internet.
EVASWorldwide, the Ramsey, N.J. company that markets the Emergency Vision Assurance System, appointed Tokyo-based Marubeni Aerospace to sell the product in Japan. The $14,000 EVAS allows pilots to view critical instruments and look outside a portion of the windshield in the event of smoke in the cockpit. EVAS was recently selected by the FAA for its aircraft (see page 58).
Perched at the top of Gulfstream’s lineup of luxury business jets sits the G550, a longer-legged and heavier version of the G500 for which the original GV and GV-SP lend their names. The $45 million G550’s list of improvements over the G500 includes true New York-to-Tokyo nonstop range, increased payload-carrying capability, higher cruise speed and shorter takeoff distances.
Dassault hopes to display the cockpit simulator for its new Falcon 7X sidestick fly-by-wire business trijet at the NBAA Convention in October in Orlando, Fla. Orders for 30 of the new jets are secured by $1 million non-refundable deposits, according to the company. First flight is scheduled for the end of the first quarter 2005, with certification planned in the third quarter of 2006.
“What makes our system unique is that it is based on a simple personal computer network that ties all of the components together,” Mike Altman, CEO of Mather, Calif.-based Precision Flight Controls, told AIN. “That allows it to be a cost-effective jet trainer. Depending on the exact configuration, the price ranges from about $125,000 to $150,000.”
• About 400 Jet Commanders, Westwinds, Astras and Astra SP/SPXs are the subject of a proposed AD aimed at preventing cockpit fires resulting from a possibly defective oxygen shutoff valve that can create overheating in the system. Aviation authorities in Israel say they have reports of two incidents of fire in the cockpit of an 1124 and 1124A when the copilot turned on the system while the aircraft was taxiing.
Regional airlines, long dependent on the efficiencies their comparatively low cost structures bring, have watched increased security burdens since September 11 erode the very advantages on which they’ve thrived for the past two decades. But in today’s risk-averse environment, the industry has found itself performing a balancing act of sorts.