EBACE Convention News

Universal Avionics All-in On ATN-B1 Datalink

 - May 30, 2018, 1:00 AM
Universal Avionics dealers are ready to outfit operators updating for Europe’s new ATN-B1 requirements, formerly known as Link 2000+.

Dealers for Universal Avionics (Booth N89) are continuing certification of ATN-B1 CPDLC upgrades for a variety of business aircraft types. ATN-B1 controller pilot datalink communication (CPDLC) is the new name for the former European Link 2000+ system, and it is the infrastructure created to facilitate airborne datalink messaging between aircraft and air traffic control (ATC).

ATN-B1 is not the same as Datacomm in the U.S. or Future Air Navigation System (FANS) and uses a different message set. It is essentially similar to Datacomm and FANS in practice, much like sending and receiving text messages using pre-programmed messages to avoid confusion.

A FANS-equipped aircraft is already able to participate in Datacomm services in the U.S., currently limited to departure clearances at certain airports but soon expanding to airborne services. CPDLC requires a modern flight management system (FMS) with SBAS (satellite-based augmentation system) GPS, a datalink such as Universal’s UniLink UL-800 or -801 Communications Management Unit (CMU), and a cockpit voice recorder to store datalink messages, such as Universal’s CVR-120.

To use ATN-B1, a FANS-equipped aircraft with the Universal datalink needs to update the CMU’s software to the SCN 31 version. The UL-800/801 SCN 31 software upgrade must be done at Universal’s facility—the company is headquartered in Tucson, Arizona—and the upgrade cost is $15,000. Earlier versions such as Universal’s UL-600 or -700 CMUs cannot be updated to SNC 31 and would need to be traded in for a newer model, according to director of sales Robert Clare.

“It’s a pretty extensive software package,” he said, “and includes the entire messaging stack. It’s not a minor upgrade like some of our other products. It adds a lot of capability and functionality to the CMU.”

To help aircraft operators take advantage of CPDLC, Universal dealers are developing supplemental type certificates (STCs) to offer to their customers.

Flightstar, a specialist in Learjet 40/45 avionics upgrades such as ADS-B Out and FANS, is close to receiving FAA approval for ATN-B1 for the Learjet 40/45. Once that STC is approved, Flightstar plans to add EASA, Transport Canada, and Brazilian ANAC approval.

Chicago Jet has already received FAA and EASA approval for an approved model list STC to add the ATN-B1 module to the UL-800/801 for a variety of aircraft. These include the Challenger 600, 601, and 604; Falcon 50/50EX and 2000/2000EX; and Gulfstream Astra, G100, GII, GIII, GV, and G500 (older version). Chicago Jet expects to add ANAC and Transport Canada approvals shortly, as well as FAA and EASA approval for the Falcon 900/900EX, GIV/GIV-SP, and Boeing 767-200 by June 1.

Universal also announced that its Swiss dealer AIEC Switzerland is developing an STC to install Universal’s AHS-525 attitude heading reference system (AHRS) in the Learjet 35. The company plans to upgrade two Learjet 35s with the Universal AHRS at the customer location in Germany, with the potential for a total of 14 such installations. Once the EASA STC is approved, AIEC plans to have it validated by the FAA so the AHRS can be offered to U.S. Learjet 35 operators.

“This will be the first AHS-525 STC for the Learjet 35,” said Clare. The modern AHRS replaces the Learjet’s old “iron gyros,” heavy electro-mechanical devices that weigh far more and take up more space compared to the AHS-525. “This is not a trivial change, and it should save quite a bit of money and time on maintenance for the gyros,” he said.

Meanwhile, Universal Avionics is experiencing continued growth in FMS upgrades to meet NextGen and SESAR requirements, with SBAS-FMS upgrades climbing 40 percent during 2017.

“FMS upgrades are still our staple product,” Clare said. “We’re continuing to see significant growth through the ADS-B mandates and upgrades due to that mandate and other initiatives. By doing the Universal SBAS upgrade in support of ADS-B, this gives operators a solid foundation for other SESAR and NextGen initiatives. The next big push for Europe is LPV approaches, and these are starting to take off. The SBAS-FMS is suited for Europe’s EGNOS network.”