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Astronautics Badger Selected for U.S. CBP, FAP Aircraft

 - February 11, 2020, 7:00 AM
Astronautics Badger displays brighten up this Lockheed Martin P-3 Orion’s flight deck.

Astronautics is capturing a number of contracts for its latest generation of Badger integrated flight displays, including from the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and the Peruvian air force (FAP). In addition, the latest iteration of the display family is now standard on Bell 412EPX and 429 helicopters.

For the CBP, Astronautics replaced primary flight and navigations avionics on 14 Lockheed Martin P-3 Orion Long Range Tracker (LTR) and Airborne Early Warning (AEW) tactical turboprops.

The P-3s were fitted with four 6x8-inch multifunction displays, including two primary and two navigation. Astronautics (Booth N29) tied in existing software from the legacy displays, a move that kept costs down and minimized training. The LCD panels improve view angle performance and color rendering while running cooler with less power. In addition, Astronautics furnished spares and provided adapter harnesses for equipment testing and installation integration.

Noting the systems were delivered on time and on budget, Astronautics president Chad Cundiff said, “We provided an incremental, modular solution for retrofitting the P-3 fleet that limits aircraft downtime and met our customer’s budget and schedule needs. This cost-effective approach is a key element in support of CBP’s objective to keep the P-3 flying to 2030 and beyond.”

The new LCDs use LED backlights that run cooler with less power and support more vibrant color displays. 

Astronautics has provided systems for the P-3 since the early 1960s, beginning with attitude direction and horizontal situation indicators and in the late 1990s provided a first-generation electronic flight instrument system, moving the aircraft to glass panels.

The FAP contract, meanwhile, is a follow-on flight deck modernization for another L-100 transport, the civil version of the C-130. Astronautics is the prime contractor on the military service’s Avionics Upgrade Program (AUP), switching out legacy systems with a glass suite that will enhance situational awareness with digital interfaces and displays, improved functionality, and additional safety features providing information such as traffic, terrain, and weather.

To be completed in early 2021, the suite will include six 6x8-inch electronic flight instrument/engine instrument and caution advisory system displays with dual engine data concentrator units. Astronautics is integrating the flight management system, GPS, and autopilot/flight director from other suppliers, along with navigation and communication radios. 

Astronautics is further supporting the FAP with technician training, assistance with flight tests, and program architecture and documentation.

Under the agreement with Bell, Astronautics is providing its updated Badger Pro+ displays for the Bell BasiX-Pro cockpit, replacing Rogerson Kratos displays. In the works for several years, Astronautics has secured FAA TSO for the Badger Pro+ line, and the flight displays are already approved on both the 412EPX and 429. The first few Bell 412EXPs have rolled off the production line

Astronautics is providing four 6x8-inch high-resolution displays for the BasiX-Pro flight deck of the 412EXP and three for the 429. Working with Bell, Astronautics customized the displays to the specifics of the BasiX-Pro flight deck, providing improved viewability to easily access primary flight, navigation, and engine data, as well as system synoptics, weight-and-balance, and checklist information, among other information.

The enhanced graphics include fonts and black outline to make symbology “pop,” said Brian Keery, product strategy manager of displays and cockpit integration for Astronautics, adding, “A pilot doesn't have to search as hard to find information. It's a very clear display.”

Along with the better viewability, the system includes new advisory vertical approach capability, LED mode-select lights on the autopilot controller, flashing messages synchronized between displays, clear on-screen presentation of the helicopter terrain awareness and warning system, LED-based night vision goggle compatibility, sealed enclosure with passive cooling, and seamless interface with other avionics.

One of the more notable enhancements of the Badger Pro+ system is its video capabilities, including inputs for FLIR and cameras, accepting four video formats, including analog and high-definition, with full- and split-screen modes with pan, zoom, and rotation capabilities.

While the display suites each incorporate new and enhanced features, they build on the heritage of the ruggedness of the Badger family that has been proven over one million flight hours on aircraft such as the Pilatus PC-7, Boeing 747, and Bell UH-1, Astronautics said.