Honeywell Aerospace continues to develop improvements and add-ons to its SmartView synthetic-vision system (SVS), including a 3-D taxi system and the capability to use lower Category II landing minimums on Category I ILS and GPS-based LPV approaches. Both new features, while not yet products, offer the promise of increasing pilot situational awareness and flight safety during different phases of flight.
Avionics and ATC » Avionics
New developments and products in avionics, specifically about aircraft electronics in the cockpit.
The F-35 Joint Program Office (JPO) halted the development of an alternate helmet-mounted display system (HMDS) for the Joint Strike Fighter, signaling the resolution of a potentially serious technical complication the program faced.
UAV start-up Titan Aerospace of Moriarty, N.M., yesterday named former Eclipse Aviation CEO Vern Raburn as its chairman and CEO. Originally a Microsoft executive, Raburn founded Eclipse, manufacturer of the Eclipse 500 very light jet, in 1998. He stepped down from the company in 2008 before it entered bankruptcy, and it later re-emerged from bankruptcy as Eclipse Aerospace.
On Friday, Rockwell Collins unveiled its new EVS-3000 enhanced vision system, which includes a multi-spectral EVS sensor that “significantly improves detection of outside terrain, hazards and obstacles in low-visibility conditions caused by weather phenomena such as fog.” The EVS-3000 also brings the industry-first ability to fully detect LED lighting, which is increasingly being used by airports as a runway lighting solution. It does not require a built-in cooling system, reducing weight.
Jeppesen has begun development of FliteDeck Pro (for commercial operators) for Microsoft’s Windows 8/Surface tablet. Delta Air Lines is the launch customer and plans to equip its 11,000 pilots with Microsoft Surface 2 tablet computers as electronic flight bags, with Boeing 757 and 767 pilots scheduled to receive their units later this year and the rest next year. The Surface 2 tablets will run Jeppesen’s FliteDeck Pro and will be used for document viewing and checklists, replacing 38 pounds of paper per airplane and saving Delta $13 million a year in fuel and associated costs.
Garmin unveiled a GPS watch, dubbed D2, designed specifically for aviators today. Features include direct-to and nearest functions; a built-in adjustable altimeter; altitude-alerting capabilities; the option to display both local and Zulu/UTC time; and the ability to integrate with Garmin’s iOS and Android Pilot apps and VIRB HD action camera. Customized data fields can also display GPS ground speed, GPS track, distance, estimated time en route, bearing and glide ratio. When used with the Pilot app, the D2 can load flight plans and create waypoints.
Elliott Aviation is working with Chippewa Aerospace on an STC to upgrade Hawker 800-series jets with the latest Phase V software for Honeywell Primus Epic CDS/R avionics. Elliott will seek its own STC for the NZ-2010 FMS 6.1 version 03040 software upgrade to the Hawker’s NZ-2000 FMS. These STCs will allow operators to fly Waas LPV approaches, although the CDS/R system isn’t required, as Waas LPV is available with the Hawker’s original SPZ-8000 avionics and the NZ-2000 software upgrade.
While the FAA mandate to install ADS-B out equipment for aircraft flying in U.S. airspace by Jan. 1, 2020 is more than six years away, aircraft operating in some countries’ airspace must be compliant starting this December. Avionics manufacturers are ready with equipment to meet the mandates and avionics shops and aircraft manufacturers are working on supplemental type certificates (STCs) to smooth the path for upgrades in many business jet types.
Longtime FAA watchers will remember the FAA’s advanced automation system (AAS), which was contracted in 1990 to replace the agency’s venerable Host ATC system, which had entered service 20 years earlier. AAS was to be the answer to the controllers’ every prayer, until it started to run into technical trouble. In fact, it encountered so much trouble that the FAA cancelled its development in 1994–reportedly at the strong urging of Congress–after expenditures had reached $2.6 billion, without clear indications of when it would achieve operational readiness or its final cost.
Once you’ve watched a professional flight crew fly a business jet equipped with Safe Flight’s AutoPower autothrottle system, you’ll wonder why autothrottles aren’t standard on more airplanes. While they offer efficiency and passenger comfort benefits, it’s the safety aspects that make autothrottles well worthwhile.