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Saturday, July 1, 2006

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Honeywell Boots APEX

Phoenix-based Honeywell Aerospace has announced upgrades to the APEX integrated avionics package planned for the Grob SPn, a light jet for business aviation. Honeywell says the improvements will reduce pilot workload, improve situational awareness and provide a platform for future avionics modifications. The updates involve a higher level of integration between aircraft and avionics systems. Features that can be integrated more easily into the APEX cockpit include an electronic flight bag, dual flight management systems, weather radar, enhanced ground proximity warning system (EGPWS), enhanced vision and traffic alert collision avoidance system (TCAS II).

The enhanced APEX suite also has more software processing power, allowing future equipment installations, such as synthetic vision, vertical navigation (VNAV), controller pilot data link communications (CPDLC), automatic dependent surveillance-broadcast (ADS-B), autothrottle and emergency decent mode. Honeywell decided to upgrade the APEX system because "it was a logical progression, given the size and sophistication of the SPn and its intended customer base," says Roger Dykmann, marketing and product manager for Honeywell's Integrated Avionics Systems division. The APEX cockpit uses the company's digital engine operating system (DEOS), which was developed for its Primus Epic avionics suite. Honeywell says that Primus Epic features and functions can be transferred to the APEX system. The enhanced avionics package will be available with the introduction of the Grob SPn, which is currently scheduled for customer deliveries in the second quarter of 2007. Visit www.honeywell.com and www.grobspn.com.

FAA's New UA Office

As unmanned air vehicle manufacturers and operators clamor for routine access to the National Airspace System (NAS), FAA has established a more centralized structure for dealing with the issue. In February 2006 the agency set up an unmanned aircraft (UA) program office, which focuses on design standards and operational requirements for certification and airworthiness approvals.

The Washington, D.C., office will be directly responsible for, or coordinate on, all FAA activities related to unmanned aircraft, says Dave Hempe, manager of the Aircraft Engineering division in the Aircraft Certification Service, where the new unit resides. "It will be the entry point for all external agencies, companies and entities on all UA issues and respond to all external issues with a coordinated FAA position."

Doug Davis, an FAA veteran with experience in satnav and surveillance systems, heads the office. He has only five full-time staff members but can call upon the resources of about 20 other employees in the Air Traffic Organization, Office of the Chief Counsel and other offices. He also will work closely with the Flight Standards Service, which develops rules for flight operations.

Integrating unmanned aircraft into the NAS will be challenging, as they are "unmanned aircraft systems" (UAS) in agency parlance. A UAS includes not only the airplane but also the communications-control links and the ground control station. "The complexities are directly related to the interdependencies of these three facets, the new and novel design features that enable unmanned operations, and the required level of reliability for potential system designs that will be presented to FAA for certification," Hempe says.

As FAA is just beginning to develop a regulatory framework for these vehicles, no UAS rules or handbooks are yet in process or scheduled, Hempe says. Current regulations apply only to manned aircraft, and "whether or not any existing regulations are appropriate for unmanned aircraft must be determined." It is likely that FAA will have to develop airworthiness standards for unmanned systems. However, all the agency's design regulations are intended to be performance-based, "stating a required level of performance and not dictating a specific design," Hempe explains.

With one exception, the agency currently applies an existing experimental airworthiness certification process to unmanned vehicles. This process has been in place for many years to issue certificates to manned aircraft for purposes such as crew training, air racing, research and development, and showing regulatory compliance. The one modification, Hempe explains, is that FAA requires UA applicants to conduct and provide the results of a system safety analysis for unmanned aircraft. In general, the UAS must be found to be in condition for safe flight in the area for which flight operations have been approved, he says. FAA establishes operating limitations, as necessary, to ensure that the UAs don't adversely impact safety.

So far FAA has issued two experimental airworthiness certificates for unmanned vehicles. General Atomics received the first on Aug. 25, 2005, for its Altair unmanned air vehicle. Bell Helicopter's Eagle Eye received the second on Dec. 1, 2005. Around a dozen additional applications are in process.

The military is especially eager to gain more routine access to the NAS for its unmanned aircraft. While the armed forces essentially self-certify their platforms, "FAA establishes the general operating rules for which all aircraft must comply when flying in the NAS," Hempe says. The U.S. Department of Defense operates its aircraft, manned and unmanned, within these operating rules and according to any limitations that are established for specific types of operations.

The goal of ensuring a safe implementation of UAS technology will take a significant amount of planning and resources to accomplish, lasting for the next several years. A more specific roadmap, with key milestones and deliverables, is under development, Hempe says.

Helmet-Mounted Display

Boeing has awarded more than $80-million to Vision Systems International (VSI) for more than 400 joint helmet-mounted cueing systems (JHMCS). VSI also has obtained U.S. Air Force and Navy contracts for JHMCS spares and test equipment. Under the Boeing contract, VSI will supply hardware, spares, technical support and equipment for USAF F-15 and F-16, Air National Guard F-15 and Navy F/A-18 platforms. VSI also will provide similar services for several foreign governments, including on F-16s for the Netherlands, Poland and Turkey and F/A-18s for Australia, Canada and Switzerland. Deliveries are scheduled to start next year, lasting through 2008. VSI is a joint venture formed in 1996 between EFW Inc., a subsidiary of Elbit Systems, and Rockwell Collins. Visit www.vsi-hmcs.com.

Kollsman-Sandel Deal

In a $12-million agreement, Kollsman has purchased a 20 percent stake in Sandel Avionics of Vista, Calif. A U.S. subsidiary of Israel-based Elbit Systems Ltd., Kollsman has an option to purchase the other 80 percent of Sandel--a right that expires after 30 months. During that period, Kollsman can appoint a representative to the Sandel board of directors and has other minority ownership rights. The two companies will cooperate on marketing and product development efforts. They anticipate that some of Kollsman's new products, such as its general aviation vision system (GAViS), micro-vision (?-ViS) head-up display and enhanced synthetic vision system (ESViS), will be integrated into Sandel displays for the general aviation market. Visit www.elbitsystems.com, www.kollsman.com and www.sandelavionics.com.

FANS Simulator

Minneapolis-based Aerosim Technologies has incorporated future area navigation system (FANS) 1/A communications training into its flight management system (FMS) simulators. According to Aerosim, FedEx is using the prototype version of the FANS module on its MD11 Pegasus FMS trainer. FANS technology allows two-way electronic communications between air traffic controllers and flight crews. Visit www.aerosim.com.

EFB Adopted

CMC Electronics' PilotView electronic flight bag (EFB) is now an option on Dassault's 900DX, 900EX, 2000DX and 2000EX business aircraft. Separately, Broomfield, Colo.-based Pilatus Business Aircraft Ltd. will offer the EFB solution, and CMC's SureSight M-Series enhanced vision system (EVS) sensor, as options on the PC-12. In the Dassault aircraft, PilotView will supplement the EASy flight deck. In the PC-12 the EFB will function as a standalone unit and as a display for the EVS sensor. Shown here is an EVS display on the PilotView electronic flight bag. Visit www.cmcelectronics.ca, www.falconjet.com and www.pilatus-aircraft.com.

Part 25 Certification

The Universal Avionics Systems Corp. Vision-1 synthetic vision system has received a Part 25 supplemental type certificate. The STC, which Universal says is the first Part 25 certification issued by FAA, applies to Vision-1's egocentric and exocentric views. The 3D egocentric view, designed for primary flight display and electronic attitude display indicator (EADI) applications, shows terrain ahead of the aircraft. The exocentric perspective provides a view of the aircraft, flight plan and terrain from behind, above and to the right of the aircraft on a navigation display. Flight testing for the STC was conducted in the company's Bombardier Challenger 601 out of Long Beach, Calif. Visit www.uasc.com.

Coms Services

SkyWest Inc. subsidiary, Atlantic Southeast Airlines (ASA), has selected a package of several ARINC air/ground communications services. ARINC will provide a digital data link service over its GLOBALink network, which uses the VHF digital link, Mode 2 (VDL-2) protocol. In addition, ASA will use ARINC's OpCenter messaging service to retrieve air/ground messages. Several ARINC paperless data applications will be used for tasks such as maintenance data collection and weight-and-balance functions. The carrier also will receive engineering, implementation and support services as part of the agreement. ASA has begun installing the VDL-2 avionics on its fleet of more than 140 Bombardier CRJ-200s and CRJ-700s, a process expected to take 15 months. Visit www.arinc.com.

Electronic Flight Bag

San Francisco-based startup airline Virgin America has picked Jeppesen's Class 2 electronic flight bag (EFB) for installation on its fleet of new Airbus A320s. The agreement covers the EFB's applications, data and software infrastructure. The package also includes Jeppesen's data distribution and management system, terminal charts and document viewer. Visit www.jeppesen.com and www.virginamerica.com.

Aircraft Health Monitoring

Under an agreement with Boeing, Teledyne Controls will develop and produce the aircraft health monitoring system (AHMS) for the U.S. Navy's P-8A multimission maritime aircraft (MMA). Teledyne is supplying hardware, software and engineering in support of the multiyear MMA program. The AHMS for the P-8A is a modified version of Teledyne's commercial digital flight data acquisition unit (DFDAU), which is designed to collect and monitor aircraft flight data. Visit www.teledynecontrols.com and www.boeing.com.

Virtual Training

A recent U.S. Navy training exercise linked four manned F/A-18 Hornet simulators from Strike Fighter Wing Pacific in Lemoore, Calif., to the Second Fleet training staff in Norfolk, Va. According to the Navy, the event marked the first time the simulators and training staff were linked coast-to-coast. The "full immersion," distributed simulation exercise, known as Fleet Synthetic Training-Joint 06-1, brought increased realism the staff training event. Actual Hornet pilots responded to staff taskings, controlled by the Hawkeye deployable readiness trainer. The units were connected over a wide area network. Shown here is a Hornet pilot from Strike Fighter Wing Pacific watching his virtual wingman. Visit www.navair.navy.mil.

Data Link

The U.S. Navy has awarded a contract to Data Link Solutions (DLS) to integrate the tactical targeting networking technology (TTNT) waveform into the multifunction information distribution system (MIDS) Joint Tactical Radio System (JTRS) terminal. The $9.3-million deal includes elements of the first two phases of the project. The first phase consists of developing hardware and design specifications for the integration of TTNT into the MIDS JTRS terminal. DLS, a joint venture of BAE Systems and Rockwell Collins, will work with ViaSat on the project. A $40-million second phase, which the Navy will award later this year, covers the program's complete design, development and qualification stages. The TTNT waveform, developed by Collins under a Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) contract, is an Internet Protocol-based, high-speed network. It is intended to address the sensor-to-sensor shooter link and provide other real-time data, enabling the military to quickly pinpoint moving targets. Visit www.datalinksolutions.com.

Fly-By-Wire

AgustaWestland has awarded a $32-million contract to BAE Systems for the development of its Helicopter Electro Actuation Technology (HEAT) digital flight control computer for the UK Royal Navy's EH101 Merlins. The HEAT system, which BAE says is the first electromechanical fly-by-wire system on a helicopter, will replace the existing hydromechanical rotor control system on the EH101s. Two dual-lane flight control computers provide quadruple redundancy, meaning the system can still function even if two systems fail. The fly-by-wire controls initially will interact with the pilot inceptors and actuators, and ultimately replace the existing autostabilizer and autopilot functions. According to BAE Systems, the HEAT system also will increase the EH101's operational capabilities in adverse weather conditions. Visit www.agustawestland.com and www.baesystems.com.

Air Traffic Management

The Thales Eurocat air traffic management (ATM) system is now operational at Vietnam's Ho Chi Minh ATM center. The Civil Aviation Administration of Vietnam will use the system to control all air traffic in the region.

The Eurocat system includes interfaces for primary and secondary radar, automatic dependent surveillance/controller pilot data link communication (ADS/CPDLC), aeronautical fixed telecommunications networks, and improved interoperability with adjacent air traffic management systems. Also part of the Thales system at the Ho Chi Minh center are a test and evaluation platform; voice and data recording; replay capabilities; and an automated billing system. Visit www.thales.com.

Flight Data

Lockheed Martin has selected NICE Systems to provide its NICE Perform for Lockheed's FS21 system, which is used to provide flight services for FAA's automated flight service stations (AFSS). NICE Perform will monitor and analyze telephone voice interactions between pilots and flight service staff to ensure compliance levels designated by FAA. AFSS personnel supply information about weather and security-related flight restrictions to pilots. Visit www.lockheedmartin.com and www.nice.com.

High-Gain Antenna

EMS Satcom's eNfusion AMT-3800 high-gain antenna is now an option on the Bombardier Global Express XRS and Global 5000 business jets. The fuselage-mounted AMT-3800 provides voice and Internet broadband services to passengers. An Inmarsat-based unit that is designed for smaller aircraft, the AMT-3800 also provides connectivity for larger aircraft. EMS Satcom says the antenna is a good fit for the XRS and Global 5000 because it will use an Ethernet-based Rockwell Collins Airshow 21 cabin electronics system. Visit www.emssatcom.com and www.bombardier.com.

Digital Transceiver

The U.S. Forest Service has approved the Northern Airborne Technology (NAT) NPX136D-070 digital P25 transceiver for its fleet of various fixed-wing aircraft and helicopters. A standalone radio capable of transmitting over the VHF band, the NPX136D-070 features volume control and scan select switches near a light-emitting diode (LED) display. Squelch test, channel up/down and display controls are located beneath the LED screen. The unit also has a "cloning" capability, which allows quick loading of one radio's channel information into another radio. The transceiver is compliant with the Association of Public Safety Communications Officials (APCO) Project 25, an effort to set public safety standards for uniform digital two-way radios. Visit www.northernairborne.com.

Protocol

TTTech has agreed to support the development of a time-triggered protocol-based data communications platform for Hamilton Sundstrand Corp.'s electric and environmental control systems on the Boeing 787. According to TTTech, its system will require less wiring and weight, providing enhanced reliability and safety for Hamilton Sundstrand's common electronic architecture (CEA). Visit www.tttech.com and www.hamiltonsundstrand.com.

Simulators

CAE has obtained C$48 million in contracts to supply simulators to three companies--ATR, Cathay Pacific Airways and Ryanair. CAE will build a Boeing 777-300ER simulator for Cathay Pacific and provide several flight training devices to update an existing simulator. Those devices, which will be used in Cathay's training center in Hong Kong, China, are scheduled for delivery in fall 2007.

European carrier Ryanair has extended a contract with CAE for a B737-800 simulator. That trainer comes equipped with CAE's Maxvue visual system, and plans call for the simulator to be operational in fall 2007 at Ryanair's facility in East Midlands, UK.

Regional aircraft manufacturer ATR will receive an ATR 72-500 simulator and two CAE Tropos visual systems. Indian carrier Air Deccan will use the devices at its training center in Bangalore, starting in spring 2008. Visit www.cae.com, www.atraircraft.com, www.cahaypacific.com and www.ryanair.com.

Avionics Maintenance

ARINC Direct Aviation Services has received expanded FAA Part 145 certification for its aircraft maintenance and repair station in Colorado Springs, Colo. The station performs maintenance on flight data recorders, flight management systems and enhanced ground proximity warning system (EGPWS), reduced vertical separation minimum (RVSM) and traffic alert collision avoidance system (TCAS) equipment. Visit www.arinc.com.

Cockpit Upgrade

The Legend Cub Special, an updated variant of American Legend Aircraft's Legend Cub, features a new navigation and communications package. Included in the upgrades are Garmin's SL40 coms, GTX 327 transponder, and 396 moving map GPS, as well as an intercom from PS Engineering of Lenoir City, Tenn. Also available as an option is an electronic flight instrument system (EFIS) package including Woodland, Wash.-based Dynon's FlightDEK-D180. Visit www.legend.aero, www.garmin.com, www.ps-engineering.com and www.dynonavionics.com.

UAV Navigation

Boeing and Science Applications International Corp. (SAIC) have chosen Honeywell to develop and manufacture the Class I unmanned aerial vehicle system (UAVS) for the U.S. Army Future Combat Systems (FCS) program. The Honeywell contract is worth around $61 million. The UAVS will be equipped with a deeply integrated guidance and navigation unit (DIGNU), which Honeywell says is an advancement of the inertial measurement unit (IMU) and flight management unit (FMU). SAIC is the lead systems integrator for the FCS program. Visit www.honeywell.com, www.boeing.com and www.saic.com.

Daily Web News

Aviation Today, a long-time Web portal for Avionics Magazine and sister publications, has launched a "Today's Top Stories" section, covering avionics, helicopters, aviation maintenance, safety and regional airlines. Visit www.aviationtoday.com and www.avionicsmagazine.com.

Deal Completed

In a $71.5-million transaction, Rockwell Collins has finalized its acquisition of Evans & Sutherland's simulation assets. The company's facilities in Salt Lake City, Orlando, Fla., and the UK are included in the deal. Visit www.rockwellcollins.com and www.es.com.

Fiber Optic Cables

kSARIA of Lawrence, Mass., and DRS Laurel Technologies have agreed to build a facility in Johnstown, Pa., dedicated to the production of fiber optic cables. Visit www.drs.com and www.ksaria.com.

Partnership

Vienna, Austria-based TTTech Computertechnik and Ultra Electronics of Cheltenham, England, have partnered to supply time-triggered data communications products and support services in the UK. Visit www.tttech.com and www.ultra-electronics.com.

Data Storage

Eclipse Aviation Corp. has chosen navAero's diagnostic storage unit for the Eclipse 500 very light jet. Visit www.navaero.com and www.eclipseaviation.com.

Certification

The Integrity operating system from Green Hills Software has achieved the IEEE standard for portable operating system interface (POSIX). Visit www.ghs.com.

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