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Friday, November 1, 2002

Industry Scan

RVSM Brings Results

Eurocontrol officials believe recent efforts to improve traffic flow in Europe have paid off, and they submit as proof figures revealing that, while air traffic in Europe dropped by an average 4.2 percent over the past two years, the average flight delay in the continent has fallen by an impressive 41.2 percent.

"The introduction of reduced vertical separation minima (RVSM) earlier this year combined with the strenuous efforts to increase capacity made by the [31] member states [of Eurocontrol], service providers and Eurocontrol itself, has led to this satisfactory state of affairs," says Victor Aguado, Eurocontrol’s director general. Another Eurocontrol official adds that RVSM was the main contributor to the drop in delay time, but "collaborative decision making between Eurocontrol and the service providers to reroute and improve traffic flow also succeeded in bearing fruit."

The figures above represent all instrument flight rule (IFR) traffic in the 31 states, including civil and military aircraft. They compare the annual number of flights and length of delays over two years, from September 2000 to September 2002.

New Learjet

Following its initial flight in late August, the newest version Learjet, the Model 40, has entered certification testing, which is expected to be completed by the third quarter of 2003, with approval from the Federal Aviation Administration and Transport Canada. European Joint Aviation Authorities (JAA) certification of the new light business jet is expected in the first quarter of 2004. Comparable but shorter than the Learjet 45, the new aircraft is equipped with Honeywell’s Primus 1000 integrated avionics suite. The Learjet 40 panel has four 8-by-7-inch displays, which present all flight and navigation information, as well as engine instrument and crew alerting system (EICAS) data. The Honeywell suite allows maintenance technicians to download and analyze information while troubleshooting onboard systems that have diagnostic capabilities. Bombardier unveiled the Learjet 40, as well as the Learjet 45XR (also with the Primus 1000 suite), in July 2002. Visit www.honeywell.com and www.bombardier.com.

Preparing for the Olympics

As part of a modernization effort in preparation for the 2008 Olympics, the first airline operation center in Beijing has been established, and the Civil Aviation Authority China (CAAC) has selected Frequentis to provide its VCS 3025 voice communication system for the facility. Frequentis has delivered the system and recently performed the site acceptance testing. Three workstations have been established to support calls between airlines and their pilots.

This acquisition follows another Frequentis sale to the Chinese. The Austrian company was awarded a contract to provide voice communication systems for China’s NESACC (Northern, Eastern and Southern Area Control Centers) program, in which numerous small flight information regions (FIRs) were consolidated into three large regions. The Frequentis system will complement the Eurocat air traffic management (ATM) systems, made by Thales ATM, at air traffic control centers established in Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou. Visit www.frequentis.com

ARINC VDL-2 Network

As the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) prepared to launch controller-pilot data link communications (CPDLC) trials in the Miami air route traffic control center (ARTCC) in late September, ARINC Inc. asserted the readiness of its VHF Data Link-Mode 2 (VDL-2) technology. ARINC’s communications network, based on 13 new ground stations, covers 640,000 square miles (1.7 million square kilometers), including Florida, the Caribbean and the Gulf of Mexico. ARINC claims it is the first operational VDL-2 network to provide full aeronautical telecommunication network (ATN) operation for CPDLC. CPDLC Build 1 messages include frequency changes and altimeter settings. Visit www.arinc.com.

Bombardier’s BEVS

An enhanced vision system will come standard on Bombardier’s Global Express business jet. Thales Avionics developed the package–called BEVS, for Bombardier Enhanced Vision System–by combining its head-up display (HUD) with CMC Electronics’ SureSight dual-band infrared (IR) sensor. IR imagery, presented on the Global Express pilot’s HUD and on a panel display before the copilot, will provide greater crew situational awareness during approaches, landings and taxiing in fog and inclement weather.

Working in the low-to-midwave IR band (1 to 5 microns), SureSight requires only one sensor and thus includes just two line replaceable units (LRUs). The sensor range comes courtesy of a focal plane array. In addition to the Thales system, SureSight can be integrated with HUDs made by Flight Systems and BAE/Honeywell. The first Global Express equipped with BEVS is scheduled to fly in the first quarter of 2003. Qualification testing is to begin in the second quarter of 2004, followed by certification, expected in early 2005. Visit www.thales-avionics.com, www.cmcelectronics.ca and www.bombardier.com.

New FMS Approved

Now that it is certified, the flight management system (FMS) jointly developed by Thales Avionics and Smiths Aerospace for all Airbus 319, 320 and 321 aircraft has been scheduled to enter in-service evaluation this autumn, in preparation for volume production, beginning in early 2003. Airbus plans to employ 10 aircraft operated by Alitalia and 10 aircraft from a U.S. operator, yet to be identified, to perform the evaluation. The new FMS will be a factory option (to a Honeywell FMS) and a system available for retrofit. It includes a multifunction control display unit (MCDU) with a liquid crystal display (LCD), a 5-megabyte navigation database and the flexibility to modify and revise flight plans. The system is the product of Smiths’ FMS expertise (it produces the system for the Boeing 737 series, models 300 and newer), combined with Thales’ experience with Airbus avionics and architecture. Visit www.smiths-aerospace.com and www.thales-avionics.com.

Cockpit Weather Service

Rockwell Collins will offer WSI Corp.’s WSI InFlight weather service to customers using aircraft equipped with Pro Line 21 avionics. Northstar Technologies also will distribute the cockpit weather advisory system for users of Northstar’s portable CT-1000-Series flight deck organizers. WSI InFlight continuously broadcasts weather information to any cockpit with the WSI antenna and receiver.

Co-developed with NASA, the system uses satellite downlinks to provide uninterrupted, continent-wide weather at any altitude. Graphical displays indicate areas of rain, snow, mixed precipitation, and cell top height and movement. Aviation routine weather reports (METARs), terminal aerodrome forecasts (TAFs), plotted significant meteorological information (SIGMETs), airman’s meteorological information (AIRMETs) and current conditions also are provided. Visit www.wsi.com and www.northstarmc.com.

View from the Ground

A technology that enables ground personnel to see live video images from cameras in the cabin and cockpit of an air transport aircraft has been tested and is scheduled to be launched in mid 2003. Called VideoCrunch, this low-bit-rate, video/speech compression technology was jointly developed by Audio Visual Telecommunications (AVT), Victoria, British Columbia, and Thales Avionics. AVT supplied the compression technology, while Thales provided the satellite communications system and security camera. The video is transmitted via the Inmarsat Aero I satellite service. Visit www.avt.net and www.thales-avionics.com.

TAWS-TCAS Combination

Phoenix-based ACSS is working on a combined traffic and terrain avoidance system, which can also incorporate a GPS receiver and windshear detection. The system has been installed in the company’s King Air C90 for flight test certification. ACSS plans to have it ready for initial deliveries in the first quarter of 2003. FedEx has ordered the system for its fleet of Fokker-27 aircraft.

Called the T2CAS, the system combines a terrain awareness warning system (TAWS) developed by Thales Avionics for Mirage fighter jets and a traffic alert collision avoidance system (TCAS) developed by Honeywell. (ACSS, which is 30 percent owned by Thales and 70 percent owned by L-3 Communications, gained the TCAS 2000 from Honeywell, which divested the product when it merged with AlliedSignal.) The TAWS and TCAS are not integrated but share the same power supply. They are housed in a 4-MCU box; with GPS added, a 6-MCU box is used. A software load added to the TAWS provides active windshear detection.

ACSS officials distinguish their TAWS from other ground proximity warning systems. "It is not a geometric system, which works the same on all airplanes, from [Cessna] 172s to Gulfstreams," says Donald Schumann, ACSS’ director, commercial programs. "Ours is a performance-based system that takes into account the aircraft’s performance, particularly its climb capability." The T2CAS system’s collision prediction and alerting [CPA] function uses a terrain and airport database, along with modeling of the aircraft’s performance parameters, to predict hazardous terrain and generate aural, visual and graphical display alerts. The system gives pilots not only a warning of hazardous terrain, but an alert that a warning is forthcoming, says Schumann. Pilots therefore receive an indication of hazardous terrain as much as four minutes in advance. Once the pilots initiate a climb, the performance-based TAWS will indicate whether they will clear the terrain or have to take some other evasive maneuver.

ACSS plans to offer the T2CAS with an optional color display–either multifunction display (MFD) or dedicated display. Visit www.L-3com.com/acss.

Virgin Opts for LCDs

Virgin Atlantic Airways will be the first airline to retrofit Rockwell Collins’ active matrix liquid crystal displays (AMLCDs) in Boeing 747-400 aircraft. (The DU-7001 AMLCDs were first installed in a forward-fit B747-400 in June 2002, when Boeing rolled out its first extended range [ER] variant, delivered to Qantas Airways.) Virgin Atlantic will swap out the DU-7000 cathode ray tube (CRT) displays, which Boeing originally installed in B747-400s. The new 8-by-8-inch displays will be fitted into all 12 of the airline’s B747-400 fleet, beginning in early 2003. Visit www.rockwellcollins.com.

Building Eagle IIs

Garrett Aviation recently signed a teaming agreement with Sierra Industries to modify the Citation 500/501SP-series aircraft and install a reduced vertical separation minima (RVSM) package. Garrett will perform the modifications, developed by Sierra, which include new wings and replacement of the Pratt & Whitney Canada engines with Williams/Rolls-Royce FJ44-2A turbofans. Called the "Eagle II," the modified aircraft improves the Citation 500/501SP’s speed, range, climb and short-field capability. The RVSM package employs avionics from Innovative Solutions & Support (IS&S). It includes two air data display units and an analog/digital interface unit, both designed for the business jet. Garrett, a subsidiary of General Electric, was to have received the first Citation 501 at its Houston facility in October. Visit www.garrettaviation.com.

A Plus from Spirent

Spirent Systems expects to receive a supplemental type certificate (STC) for its new AvVisor Plus cabin information system on the Cessna Citation CJ2 by this month. According to a Spirent official, Cessna intends to offer AvVisor Plus as a factory option on its business jets.

A follow-on to AvVisor, introduced at Farnborough 2000, the Plus version of the active matrix liquid crystal display (AMLCD) can show topographical worldwide moving maps, video clips on demand, and real-time flight data. It allows users to customize the display’s graphics and show Microsoft PowerPoint presentations. It interfaces with an ARINC 429/419 digital data bus and includes four spare, discrete cockpit inputs. Displays will be available in 10.4-, 8.4- and 6.4-inch sizes.

Meanwhile, Spirent is to begin deliveries this month of AvVantage electronic flight bags (EFBs) to the product’s launch customer, Qantas Airways. The EFBs, ordered in January, will be on the airline’s new Airbus A330s. Visit www.spirent-systems.com.

Jeppesen-Honeywell Alliance

Thanks to an alliance between Jeppesen and Honeywell, operators of the Primus Epic with interactive navigation (INAV) avionics will have access to electronic nav data, including Jepp charts, en-route navigation data, and geo-political information, as well as airspace, communications, terrain and obstacle data. Information from the Integrated Navigation Data Service, developed by the two companies, can be overlayed to present three-dimensional nav information on a moving map display. Data from sensor systems used to depict terrain, nearby air traffic and weather also can be presented, as can the JeppView manual service. The Integrated Navigation Data Service initially will be provided to Primus Epic with INAV suites that are part of the Gulfstream PlaneView and Dassault Falcon EASy cockpits. The first year’s subscription to the service is included in the purchase of the aircraft and is worldwide in scope. After the first year, operators will have the option of subscribing to a regional service. Visit www.honeywell.com and www.jeppesen.com.

Spanish EF-18 Displays

An upgraded Spanish Air Force EF-18 completed its first flight under a midlife upgrade program managed by EADS/Construcciones Aeronauticas SA (CASA). Kaiser Electronics, San Jose, Calif., a Rockwell Collins company, provided the multifunction horizontal situation display and multifunction up front control. The display provides navigation/time reference, digital tactical imagery and enhanced presentations, under the control of a new tactical pilots awareness computer. The displays are expected to improve night vision compatibility, mission support and debriefing capabilities. Visit www.rockwellcollins.com.

For the Record

In our September 2002 cover story titled "Corporate Connectivity," we mentioned Teledyne Control’s SmartCabin Office Suite, but failed to include a partner in developing the suite: Raytheon.

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