The 2017 National Business Aviation Association (NBAA) convention featured a combined 99 avionics manufacturers, dealers, audio and visual equipment vendors, and suppliers. Though it would be impossible to analyze what all these exhibitors introduced at the event, there are some worth noting.
Dassault Aviation CEO Eric Trappier made headlines when he said that the French business jet manufacturer is currently researching artificial intelligence (AI) to introduce into future Falcon jet cockpits. This is a long-term project that will not become a reality any time soon, but Trappier said the company’s engineers are actively researching the use of artificial intelligence to assist pilots in future cockpits on a demonstrator aircraft.
“Engineers are looking at the artificial intelligence; they’re looking at the
impact it may have on our civilian activities, for example, how an AI-based co-pilot might work on a business jet,” said Trappier.
On the first day, ViaSat unveiled its new Ka-band business aviation shipset, the “Global Aero Terminal 5510,” as well as a new migration path for existing users of its in-flight internet to move to its new faster Ka-band network.
The satellite service provider positioned one of its antennas on the roof of the Las Vegas Convention Center and was able to demonstrate the ability of the new hardware to simultaneously stream live television and video conference with an employee at its offices in Carlsbad, California.
According to the service plans featured on a product sheet describing the new terminal, its Ultra 40 plan gives business jet operators a data allowance of 40 gigabytes, which can be used to download up to 20,000 documents or stream 6,400 songs. On the Ultra 100 plan, a data allowance of up to 100 gigabytes would let users send up to one million emails or do a Skype group video with up to five people for about 48 hours.
Gulfstream Aerospace Corp.’s first fully outfitted G600 made its public debut at the show. It is capable of flying 6,500 nautical miles at Mach 0.85. It can seat up to 19 passengers and comes equipped with Jet Connex in-flight internet from Inmarsat.
Although the Arizona-based OEM had a number of big announcements at the show, one of the most innovative was the software upgrade added to its CNX-900 router. The upgrade allows operators to use wireless database loading and remotely stage flight navigation databases onto aircraft from Honeywell’s server.
“Traditionally, operators had to bring equipment onboard or strategically plan missions to be home every time they needed to load a database. Now, with Honeywell’s CNX-900 router, the database can be stored on the CNX-900 over Wi-Fi or cellular remotely anywhere in the world, and customers can easily initiate loading of database,”said John Peterson, Honeywell's senior director of GoDirect connectivity and flight support services.
Rockwell Collins introduced a new in-flight connectivity support tool that enables business aviation operators using Inmarsat’s new Jet Connex in-flight internet service to manage their “end-to-end” usage.
The OEM notes that pre-flight ARINCDirect customers can overlay JX coverage maps on their next flight route to ensure they will not fly outside of internet coverage and thus lose connectivity.
During the trip, new advanced troubleshooting capabilities give the ARINCDirect technical support team more insight into a customer’s JX utilization. If the technical support team identifies a break of in-flight service, for example, it will contact the user and let them know how the issue is being corrected.
As the use of satellite communications for safety services controller to pilot data link communications (CPDLC) starts to become more widespread in business and commercial aviation, Pilatus selected Latitude Technologies’ SkyNode S200-012 for its new PC-24 business jet.
The Iridium-based system is designed to replace the required second high frequency radio for operators that require dual long-range communications systems to meet operational requirements.
FDS Avionics could become a major disruptor in its supply of a new type of three- and two-dimensional moving maps technologies. Its moving maps go well beyond showing updated aircraft positioning on a flight route. It allows users to move their iPads around the cabin and look through them to actually view what’s outside the aircraft in the style of augmented reality.
Further, the maps are integrated with the aircraft’s flight management system and can show passengers the updated attitude indictor, airspeed and estimated arrival time.
Esterline CMC’s CMA-5024 satellite-based augmentation system GPS Landing System Sensor Unit has been certified by EASA on the ATR 42 fleet of a regional European airline.
Aeroconseil, an AKKA Technologies group company, has developed the EASA supplemental type certificate (STC) — allowing installation of the CMA-5024 GLSSU to provide ATR 42 and ATR 72 aircraft with localizer performance with vertical guidance system (LPV) approach capability. A total of 13 ATR 42 aircraft are planned to be retrofitted with the CMA-5024 for LPV. As of this date, seven have been provisioned.
A second ATR 42 customer, Air Saint-Pierre, has selected the Aeroconseil STC with this CMC Electronics equipment and is already flying with LPV approach capability.
Astronics Ballard introduced its new Wireless Aircraft Communications Server (webCS), an integrated aircraft interface device, server and router that allows flight crews to capture, record and process aircraft data. According to Jon Neal, VP and general manager of Astronics Ballard Technology, the new hardware features an “open-architecture” approach that will allow operators to develop their own software applications running on webCS.
Web Manuals, a Swedish company that provides a web-based application that automates the process of business aircraft operators moving their air- and ground-based operational and maintenance manuals to the cloud, is finding success in the world’s largest business aviation market — North America. After opening an office in San Diego in 2016, Web Manuals CEO Martin Lidgard said 20 of its now 115 operators are based in the U.S.