EBACE Convention News

Universal Avionics Sees Growing Upgrade Activity

 - May 23, 2019, 2:40 AM
Flying a Universal Avionics Citation VII with InSight Integrated Flight Deck.

As European airports continue to adopt localizer performance with vertical guidance (LPV) approaches, aircraft operators are upgrading their avionics to take advantage of this capability. LPV approaches provide precision similar to an ILS approach without the need to install expensive and maintenance-intensive equipment at each runway end. 

Universal Avionics is seeing more operators opting to upgrade their UNS flight management system (FMS) to the latest version, with one of the key benefits being the ability to fly LPV approaches.

At EBACE, Universal Avionics, a subsidiary of Elbit Systems, is highlighting its latest SBAS-FMSs, as well as its InSight integrated flight deck and ClearVision enhanced flight vision system (EFVS) with the SkyLens head-wearable head-up display (HUD). Demonstrations of InSight and ClearVision are available at the Universal Avionics exhibit (Booth Z34).

On the FMS upgrade front, said Robert Clare, director of business aviation and OEM sales, “There is a large population of aircraft that are the target population. A lot of those have legacy FMSs that have been operating for years, for example, many Citations and Learjets came from the factory with some sort of UNS FMS dating back to the 1990s, and they are going to have to do something. We’ve captured a good percentage of those, but there still is a large percentage that need an upgrade.”

Universal Avionics dealers in Europe are “seeing a lot of activity” for upgrading FMSs on Citation 550 and 560 models, Learjet 31s and 45s, and some Falcons and Gulfstreams. Dealer Heli-One is busy upgrading Airbus Super Pumas with ADS-B Out for service over the North Sea. 

A major advantage to an FMS upgrade, besides LPV capability, is that when coupled with the proper transponder, this adds ADS-B Out. European operators have been slow to upgrade, even though Europe’s ADS-B Out mandate starts after June 7, 2020. Clare explained that ADS-B Out upgrades are accelerating in Europe, given the FAA’s clear message that the U.S. mandate is not going to be extended. “Now we’ll see more of the European community start getting their aircraft in for ADS-B and LPV,” he said.

Another advantage that comes with the Universal Avionics FMS, especially when coupled with its UniLink communications management unit, is the ability to take advantage of NextGen and Sesar performance-based navigation. This includes LPV approaches but also PRNAV and texting-style controller pilot data link communications (CPDLC) such as Data Comm and digital clearances in the U.S. and ATN B1 (formerly Link 2000+) in Europe. 

Owners of legacy Universal Avionics FMSs can trade them in for partial credit towards a new FMS. “We’re also, on certain aircraft types, offering competitor trade-ins,” said Clare. Universal Avionics has partnered with Collins Aerospace to supply its TDR-series transponder and a UNS FMS in a package discount, for aircraft originally equipped with the Collins transponder. 

To help dealers and aircraft operators, Universal Avionics has developed a data-pairing package that supports field approvals for ADS-B Out upgrades for Honeywell and Collins transponders coupled with UNS FMSs. This speeds up the process because dealers don’t need to develop a separate STC, and they can use the package, which includes wiring diagrams, instructions for continuous airworthiness templates, and other pertinent documents to do the installation. 

“A few years ago we started getting lots of inquiries on how we can help make installations and the certification process easier,” said Clare. “We came up with this to help the community.”