IS&S receives STC approval for Eclipse cockpit upgrade

 - March 31, 2010, 5:37 AM
Innovative Solutions and Support (IS&S) has added electronic chart and XM satellite weather display to the avionics upgrade it provides for the Eclipse 500. The company signed a contract with Eclipse Aerospace late last month to add the upgrade following FAA STC and TSO approvals.

The Exton, Pa.-based manufacturer of aircraft integrated electronic display systems made its name as a major player in enabling reduced vertical separation minimums (RVSM) compliance, garnering 75 percent of the retrofit market. Geoffrey Hedrick, IS&S founder, chairman and CEO, recently told AIN that IS&S was selected early in 2007 to develop a replacement for the Avidyne avionics in the Eclipse. During the next nine months Eclipse Aviation delivered between 80 and 90 aircraft with the Avidyne Avio equipment.

From then on IS&S delivered as many as 30 of its new Avio NG glass cockpit suites a month to Eclipse Aviation until production in Albuquerque ceased. Today, some 150 aircraft in the Eclipse fleet have the Avio NG system, with approximately 80 of the Avidyne Avio-equipped VLJs yet to be upgraded via STC.

“We expect the entire fleet will upgrade to the Avio NG due to its excellent performance and product supportability,” said Ross Cairns, IS&S v-p for commercial sales and marketing. Eclipse Aerospace is offering the Avio NG replacement system with the latest upgrade through its two facilities at Albuquerque Sunport International Airport and in the Chicago area.

The current installation differs from the original Eclipse panel upgrade only with the added electronic chart server and satellite Nexrad weather package which involves new software and additional connectors. IS&S is also providing the STC package to Eclipse Aerospace for a type certificate amendment.

Is today’s Avio NG system a continuation of the program begun when Vern Raburn was running Eclipse? “Exactly,” Hedrick responded, “plus the charts and datalink weather STC, of course.” He traced the often rocky path of Eclipse 500 avionics development from BAe Systems, then to Avidyne. “We found we could adapt some of our Part 121 system for the Boeing 757 to the Eclipse. In 10 months from start of the program we got an STC. But it wasn’t easy.”

The Avio NG system is available both for the Eclipse STC program and under a type certificate amendment for OEM installations. Eclipse Aviation added Avio NG to the Eclipse 500 type certificate in December 2007. In the retrofit operation the previous version of equipment–the Avidyne Avio suite–is removed and replaced by the IS&S open-architecture Avio NG cockpit display system. The Eclipse installation will interface the Avio NG with Honeywell radios, the Cobham autopilot, Beta 3 GPS, and PS Engineering audio system as well as weather radar and other third-party equipment.

The IS&S Avio NG system controls, monitors and displays all aircraft system functions on two 10.4-inch primary flight displays and a 15.4-inch landscape-format multifunction display with standby and reversionary features. Besides controlling and displaying primary and multifunction flight information, the Avio NG monitors all aircraft systems including fuel, electrical, electronic circuit breakers, hydraulics, engine instruments and environmental systems. The bezels of the active-matrix liquid crystal displays contain the line select buttons and rotational knobs through which the user can access and manipulate all subsystems.

The IS&S Vantage open architecture is the baseline for the Avio NG system. The Vantage cockpit AdViz glass panel upgrade is installed and certified by Cessna in legacy Citations, including the 500, 550, S550 and 560. It has been further developed to provide a Collins Pro Line 4 replacement in the Falcon 2000 and other Pro Line 4 platforms.

Hedrick said the company derives about 53 percent of its revenues from business jet systems and 47 percent from air transport and military customers. Electronic displays and air data instrumentation and sensors account for approximately three-quarters of its product activity. “Coming soon” as an IS&S option is an integrated FMS navigation system for “some models.” Initially, at least, that will include Cessna’s legacy Citations certified for the AdViz glass cockpit upgrade.