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Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Business Aviation and NextGen

Equipage mandates around the world are coming up fast prompting many operators of business aircraft to begin system selections and installations now

Honeywell’s Primus Epic-based EASy II cockpit,
which was certified in May on Dassault Falcon
2000S, Falcon 2000LXS and 7X, includes NextGen
and SESAR-compatible capabilities, including
ADS-B and CPDLC.
NextGen in the United States and similar airspace modernization initiatives around the world are spurring fresh interest from business aircraft operators to upgrade their systems before the mandates hit. Beyond the mandates, operators are coming to see the operational benefits these advanced avionics systems can provide.

In the next few years, there are mandates for the first of the major airspace modernization programs automatic dependent surveillance-broadcast (ADS-B). Australia has set a December 2013 deadline for aircraft operating at or above FL 290 to carry approved Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast (ADS-B) equipment. Europe plans to mandate ADS-B Out equipment on all airplanes entering European airspace in 2015, and for retrofit aircraft by 2017. For the United States, FAA has mandated ADS-B Out compliance by 2020.

For operators wishing to continue flying in these airspaces, the time for upgrades is now, industry insiders say.

“Business aviation is the forerunner in a lot of these areas. Our corporate jet customers are always asking for NextGen improvements. Customers like Gulfstream and Dassault are trying to future-proof their aircraft as much as they can,” says Jack Jacobs, vice president of marketing and product management for Honeywell. “All of the OEMs are trying to answer the Australian ADS-B Out mandate. They are feverishly trying to get it done before the end of the year when Australia kicks in as well as some Pacific routes.”

Looking beyond ADS-B to Future Air Navigation System (FANS), “there is a big push to do it quicker because of the preferred routing, and that relates to fuel savings. The OEMs are pushing for quicker upgrades to protected mode Controller-Pilot Datalink Communications (PM CPDLC). They think that gives them a leg up; it’s a discriminator in the market. We’re seeing that being pushed in Europe much more than in the U.S.,” Jacobs says. (PM CPDLC will be implemented in Europe between 2013 and 2015 and will be required for aircraft operating above 28,500 ft.)

Beyond ADS-B, there are other mandates down the road, and programs that are not yet mandated but could provide operational benefits to users.

For some operators, a strong business case is being made to buy new aircraft that have the latest avionics systems installed, or can be upgraded to provide these benefits and meet future requirements. However, for those flying older aircraft, the decision to upgrade equipment is a little more complicated.

“It behooves people to do to the [flight management system] upgrade now, because for those who wait, there’s just going to be a bombardment of people trying to get it done at the last minute. And manufacturers will certainly take away any incentives that they’re offering currently when the demand gets that high,” said Gary Harpster, senior avionics sales representative for Duncan Aviation.

Airframe OEMs

Airframe manufacturers notably Gulfstream, Dassault and Cessna have made NextGen-compliant equipment standard on new airframes, and they have been working to get those systems certified to begin operations.

Gulfstream has ADS-B certified for G450 and G550 and is completing certification for the G650 large-cabin, long-range business jets. “G450 and 550 customers are lining up to get those as fast as they can, they’re installing it right now,” says Jim Ward, advanced flight deck program manager for Gulfstream. “Nobody wants to go to Australia and not be able to fly.”

To date there have been 160 ADS-B Out installations on G450s and 550s and the company also has ADS-B Out ready to go for G4 and G5 classic aircraft, Gulfstream said.

Gulfstream’s Plane View cockpit, standard on its larger aircraft, is based on the Honeywell Primus Epic architecture. On the smaller G280, the cockpit is built on the Rockwell Collins Pro Line Fusion system. ADS-B is also certified on that aircraft.

Required Navigation Performance (RNP) another NextGen element that allows aircraft to fly more directly to their destinations, saving time and reducing fuel burn has been certified on the company’s large-cabin jets.

“Some customers are using it,” Ward says. “But there seems to be a fairly high workload for the operator to get the AR (authorization required) approval, just in terms of paperwork they have to do.“ (FAA says 367 RNP (AR) approaches, which require GPS navigation equipment aboard as well as approved pilot training, have been published to date.)

Gulfstream plans to provide NextGen (and overseas mandates) capable avionics equipment both as “forward fit” on production aircraft as well as for retrofit after delivery. “We do both. We try to deliver the airplane to the customer equipped for the current mandates of the day,” Ward says. “Beginning next year, we will have the Link-2000 CPDL in production aircraft also.”

Gulfstream is working with the FAA to find ways to separate business aircraft from air transport traffic, using RNP and curved leg approaches, to alleviate traffic problems particularly where traffic from Teterboro, N.J., and Westchester, N.Y., (two big business aviation terminals) conflict with traffic from the big New York airports.

Dassault began delivering its EASy II cockpit an advanced version of its EASy platform last year for the Falcon 900 series and this summer for the 2000 and 7X business jets. EASY II provides localizer performance with vertical guidance (LPV) approach minimums, as well as ADS-B.

The new system “opens up a lot of possibilities because now that the airplanes know where they are, for the first time we are able to broadcast that to whoever and wherever. So it is not just fuel savings, it is the very heart of the NextGen concept of making it (the system) airplane-centric and not ground-centric,” says Woody Saland, director of avionics programs and pilot training for Dassault Falcon Jet.

Will operators be making upgrades soon? “I don’t think they have a choice, because they have to meet certain mandates,” Saland said. “The only way to do that is to have a baseline system which is upgradable. Certainly the faster processors help everybody. We’ve priced it (the upgrade) where the software is free for the first three years, and the hardware is greatly subsidized. Our hope is that every Falcon EASy airplane is upgraded to EASy II just like the new production aircraft.”

With its updated 7.1 FMS, the latest iteration of Honeywell’s Epic flight management system, circling approaches are now retrievable from the database. The basic airplanes are certified for RNP 0.3. ADS-B requires a different transponder and wide-area augmentation system (WAAS) requires GPS for position accuracy.

The manufacturers said a key component to these upgrades is having a clear equipment upgrade path, allowing customers to customize and add capabilities as needed.

Cessna, when possible, “is packaging NextGen/SESAR solutions together to minimize aircraft ground time and lower installation cost,” says Frank Bartonek, senior engineering specialist.

The Cessna Citation X’s Garmin G5000 avionics suite includes capabilities to
meet airspace modernization initiative mandates, including NextGen and SESAR.
The company said it is planning to certify the system in early 2014 and the
aircraft will come equipped with ADS-B Out and WAAS/LPV, and in the future it
plans to certify Future Air Navigation System (FANS) and RNP-AR capabilities
on the aircraft.
“For example, ADS-B Out requires an SBAS (satellite based augmentation system) GPS this same type GPS is necessary for LPV. When a customer decides to upgrade to ADS-B Out they should consider an upgrade to the FMS at the same time to take advantage of LPV. Likewise if a customer wants to add an LPV capability, it would be smart to simultaneously upgrade the aircraft’s transponder to ADS-B Out.”

Cessna is also eyeing NextGen-mandates for its slate of business aircraft. Later this year, Cessna is planning to certify the new Citation X and Sovereign BPC (block point change) with Garmin’s G5000 advanced glass cockpit, which includes NextGen/SESAR capabilities. The aircraft will come equipped with ADS-B Out and WAAS/LPV by the end of the year. After the X has entered service, Cessna will certify FANS 1/A+ and RNP-AR capabilities for the G5000 on that aircraft. These aircraft will offer options for navigation precision as low as RNP (AR) 0.1 and, in fact, Cessna provides RNAV 0.3 on all its new products.

For the Cessna CJ3, which entered service in 2006, Rockwell Collins has upgraded its Pro Line 21 avionics suite with NextGen/SESAR features including WAAS/LPV, Link 2000 and ADS-B Out. New production models include WAAS LP/LPV and Cessna will soon certify the NextGen/SESAR compliant version of ADS-B Out for new production aircraft, and Link 2000+ for European-bound CJ4s and XLS+ aircraft.

Meeting the Deadlines

All stakeholders are moving forward with plans to make sure the systems are certified and ready to be installed by the various worldwide deadlines. But many question whether it will result in a major crunch as the deadline nears.

“2020 is here today if you count the number of airline aircraft which need to be upgraded by middle of 2019 the numbers are staggering. Business aircraft are affected in the same way,” said Arnold Oldach, principal marketing manager, avionics marketing for Rockwell Collins. “Even the fixed base operators who are providing STCs [supplemental type certificates] … are very concerned about having enough hangar space. When you have 100 or 200 aircraft to upgrade in four to five years, that’s not a small task.”

Rockwell Collins is planning to have forward-fit installations beginning next year for its business aircraft OEMs. The company said it is working to begin the certification process for its dealer network, and expects to start seeing installations next year on all the Bombardier super mid-size and larger aircraft that are flying to Europe.

“I think the uptake will be slow for the European retrofit mandate is 2017. So most of the operators are looking to see when they can do their major upgrades at checks. What is driving the operators right now more than anything is Link 2000+ which is the ATC data-link mandate in Europe,” Oldach says. (The deadline for Link 2000+ compliance is 2015.)

For operators the upgrade decision becomes more complicated by the dilemma of age of the aircraft and the cost of upgrading vs. replacing the systems.

Chauncey Webb, client manager for TWC Aviation, an aircraft management and charter company based in White Plains, N.Y., flies a 1990s vintage Falcon 900 and is worried about getting his plane compliant with the new requirements. Six years ago, “we did the certification testing for the 900B CDS/R (cockpit display system retrofit) installed in our airplane, but it is still not up to speed.” Then two years ago his aircraft “was the test bed to do the WAAS upgrade for the Falcon 900B, but we still haven’t seen that but I know they are close.”

Webb says with his current system he is using GPS for RNAV approaches “a lot of them at smaller airports. But with the current 6.0 software, we can’t do any circling RNP approaches.” Duncan Aviation, which is helping him with upgrades, says the 6.1 FMS software upgrade, which is expected to be certified for that aircraft soon, will allow for circling approaches.

TWC Aviation manages a fleet of 40 throughout the United States and Asia Pacific region, so compliance with worldwide mandates is essential. “What’s the alternative if you don’t?” he asks. “How much more will it cost me to make another landing, get another fuel stop (or do the same thing coming home) rather than going directly over the pond? It adds up over a few trips, so you have to do it.”

Duncan Aviation’s Harpster said he is also answering these types of questions from customers. “I had phone calls today from customers trying to figure out if there is a path to upgrade their aircraft,” Harpster told Avionics. “Do we buy an airplane that will have these upgrades available, or try to upgrade the older plane?”

Harpster said an operator flying a Falcon 900C model, and not knowing if that aircraft can be upgraded, “is thinking of getting rid of the C and buying an older B model because he knows there is an upgrade path for that. A 900 B sells for about $6 million to $8 million and a 900C for about $8 million to $10 million, but to move up to 900 EX with the newer EASy cockpit would run from $14 million to $16 million “that’s quite a jump.”

Duncan has taken a step forward to help operators of Falcon 900Bs meet the new requirements. The company announced last April that it has partnered with Universal Avionics to install and certify an advanced cockpit for the Falcon model with EASA approval expected by the end of this year.

Harpster explains that whether it be ADS-B or FANS-CPDL, “the baseline for any of those solutions is a WAAS-capable FMS not so much for the WAAS but for the precision. You have to have that level of precision in order to get to the ADS-B portion of it.”

While the Australian mandate does not require a WAAS-capable FMS, it will be required for trans-Atlantic operations and in Europe and the United States.

The Cessna Citation X’s Garmin G5000 avionics suite includes capabilities to meet airspace modernization initiative mandates, including NextGen and SESAR. The company said it is planning to certify the system in early 2014 and the aircraft will come equipped with ADS-B Out and WAAS/LPV, and in the future it plans to certify Future Air Navigation System (FANS) and RNP-AR capabilities on the aircraft.Photo courtesy CessnaHoneywell’s Primus Epic-based EASy II cockpit, which was certified in May on Dassault Falcon 2000S, Falcon 2000LXS and 7X, includes NextGen and SESAR-compatible capabilities, including ADS-B and CPDLC.Photo courtesyEquipage madates around the world are coming up fast prompting many operators of business aircraft to begin system selections and installations nowBusiness aviation is the forerunner in a lot of these areas. Our corporate jet customers are always asking for NextGen improvements.Jack Jacobs, vice president of marketing and product management at Honeywell

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