Universal steps up to space-based mandates

EBACE Convention News » 2011
May 15, 2011, 10:30 PM

The recent switching on of Europe’s Egnos satellite-based augmentation system is great news for flight management system (FMS) manufacturers like Universal Avionics Systems. “With Egnos being turned on officially,” said Dan Reida, Universal vice president of marketing, “we hope to start seeing a stronger interest in space-based augmented FMS. We look forward to implementation of more approaches [in Europe].”

The European geostationary navigation overlay system (Egnos) “safety-of-life” signal was formally declared available to aviation on March 2, after being subjected to a stringent certification and verification process. Now European operators equipped with suitable avionics can use the Egnos signals for vertical guidance precision instrument approaches at airports where specially designed approaches are available. Aircraft flying Egnos approaches must also be equipped with certified avionics that can take advantage of the more accurate lateral and vertical guidance available. Egnos is similar to the wide-area augmentation system (Waas) in the U.S. Japan has a similar system called Msas, and India’s Gagan system will also soon be available.

Universal Avionics has included Egnos, Msas and Gagan in its Waas-capable FMSs. During installation of the FMS, the installer has the option to turn on each region’s space-based augmentation capability, according to Reida, so if an operator plans to fly in the U.S., Europe, Japan and India, all four capabilities can be available.

The U.S. pioneered space-based approach augmentation and now has approved thousands of Waas LPV approaches with vertical guidance. European countries are just getting started with Egnos approaches with vertical guidance (APV). “Hopefully we’ll see that take off in Europe,” Reida said. Air navigation service providers will have to develop APV approaches, and operators will, in addition to installing certified equipment, need to seek approval to fly APV approaches. “Once the benefits are realized,” he said, “interest will increase. That benefits not just European customers, but anybody who operates in the European environment.”

Third-generation Datalink

Universal’s third-generation datalink system, the UniLink UL800/801 communications management unit, is to begin deliveries in October. The UL800/801 units meet the new requirements under Eurocontrol’s Link 2000+ program. Basically, this means that aircraft will need a datalink with controller-pilot data communications capability (CPDLC). For retrofit installations, this capability will be mandatory after Feb. 5, 2015, for flight above 28,500 feet. New aircraft delivered beginning this year need a compliant system onboard when delivered, according to Reida. “The whole idea is to drive away from voice communications,” he said.

The UniLink UL800 and 801 are compliant with future air navigation system (FANS) 1/A, and in addition to CPDLC, offer ADS-C capabilities as well as VDL mode-2 network communications. VDL mode-2 is a digital communications network with 13 times the message capacity of the current Acars system. The UL801 includes a built-in internal VHF data radio (VDR), while the UL800 works with an aircraft’s onboard VDR. 

Both units interface with satcom systems using the Iridium and Inmarsat networks. The VDR can be used for airline operational and administrative communications and flight information services messages. In addition to ADS-C (contract), CPDLC enables receipt of departure clearances, FMS flight plans and textual/graphical weather reports.

FANS Compliance

The advantage of installing Universal’s third-generation UniLink now is that when it is coupled with the FMS, it can meet FANS 1/A requirements over the North Atlantic. And if an operator is FANS 1/A-compliant by Jan. 1, 2014, then the Link 2000+ requirements are already met.

“If you’re FANS-approved by that date, you’re grandfathered in,” said Reida. This means being able to meet the Phase 1 FANS mandate in 2012, which lowers lateral spacing on two core tracks over the North Atlantic from 35,000 to 40,000 feet. “You won’t be allowed access to those two core tracks at those altitudes without compliance,” he explained. “Then in 2015, they plan to do that for all MNPS airspace, not just the tracks. Obviously, datalink is a very important requirement that’s coming. If you’re going to Europe or [flying] in Europe, datalink is going to help you a lot. Otherwise you will have to stay below 28,500 feet.”

Here at EBACE, Universal Avionics (Stand 629) is highlighting its retrofit 6.4-inch multifunction displays, which can replace radar displays and offer higher resolution for display of traffic and terrain data. These MFDs can also accept video input for display of enhanced-vision-system infrared images. Universal’s larger EFI-890 displays have been certified in nearly 30 aircraft types ranging from the Pilatus PC-12 to Boeing 737s. “We continue to add more interfaces and certifications,” Reida said. It also offers synthetic vision on the EFI-890 displays.

Five new configurations of voice and data recorders are now available from Universal Avionics, in a combined form factor, the all-in-one cockpit voice and flight data recorder. These units can include an optional internal recorder independent power supply (RIPS) capability, which records data for 10 minutes after power failure. “RIPS is mandatory for certain category new aircraft,” said Reida.

For operators who need to examine historical flight data, Universal recently introduced the FlightReview FMS playback software. FlightReview runs on PC computers and shows a 3-D rendering of flights on Google Earth, based on FMS data. Software features include five playback speeds, three seek forward/backward speeds, the ability to jump to the next FMS power-on and next CDU key press, and placement of event markers and bookmarks for finding specific events from a flight. The FlightReview software also can be used for advanced flight data analysis by employing an internal data reduction and export tool, according to Universal.

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