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Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Editors' Choice: Panel Upgrades

Panel displays and upgrades to existing avionics components can be expensive and challenging modifications. Here’s a selection that includes something for everyone.

New Helicopter EFIS for Light to Medium Helicopter Market  

Operators of small, light to medium helicopters operating under FAR Part 27 (under 6,000 lbs) will soon be able to better afford a lightweight VFR EFIS following initial supplemental type certification of Aspen Avionics’ EFD1000H. Aspen Avionics has received its first STC for the new Evolution Flight Display EFD1000H, a low-cost, lightweight EFIS designed for the light to medium-weight single and twin-engine helicopter market. The STC was for the Bell 206, using an aircraft borrowed from Summit Helicopters, a Bell Helicopter-certified repair station in Roanoke, Va., and obtained working in partnership with Coatesville, Pa.-based Keystone Helicopter Corp. The new EFD1000H was developed for helicopters from the already established fixed-wing EFD1000, but designed to be more rugged than its fixed-wing counterpart and thus able to take the beating helicopters tend to give avionics systems. The new EFIS has already been installed on several public use helicopters that do not require FAA STCs, according to Anson Gray, helicopter program manager for Aspen Avionics. These include organizations such as the Dale County

Police Department based in Ozark, Ala. Dale County currently operates two OH-58s and an MD-500E, “and do a lot of very heavy flying,” Gray said. Installation was done by Coastal Helicopters in Panama City, Fla. Aspen is in the process of obtaining additional STCs for the EFD1000H, and expected to have the Robinson R22 and R44 STC’d by mid-summer, working with Chippewa Aerospace in Myrtle Beach, S.C. Aspen is working with United Rotorcraft Solutions in Dallas for STCs on the Bell 407 and the Eurocopter AS350. Work is also being done to obtain certification for the MD500 series of helicopters. Aspen is also looking into certification of the 1000H for larger, Part 29, helicopters such as the BK-117. The EFD1000H consists of two digital displays—a primary flight display and a multifunction display. Aspen initially anticipated that operators would start with the PFD, adding the MFD at a later date. However, the company is finding that operators are now choosing to have both systems installed simultaneously, providing reversionary capability, he said. The hardware for both the PFD and MFD is identical. Key to success of the EFD1000H is its low cost ($14,995 for the PFD and $11,995 for the MFD) and light weight (2.2 lbs per unit). It is also different from other EFIS systems in that it is modular, capable of being expanded based on the operator’s needs, Gray said. Putting in both the PFD and MFD allows the operator to remove the old analog “steam gauge” attitude indicator, airspeed indicator, altimeter, VSI, and the turn and bank indicator. This allows weight reductions ranging from nine pounds in an R44 up to 42 pounds in a Bell 205 or civilianized UH-1. It eliminates the need for inverters that drive the original UH-1 flight display system, Gray said. —By Douglas Nelms Aspen Avionics, 1-505-856-5034, www.aspenavionics.com

The Becker Avionics Digital Voice Communication System

Becker Avionics offers the DVCS 6100 digital audio selector and intercom system. The system is designed with a modular philosophy to allow flexibility during system integration and to ensure optimum performance and reliability during flight operations. Each of the six (maximum) audio control units transmits the status of the selected switches and rotary controls via dual-redundant CAN-bus to the remote electronics unit (REU). Configuration of the system during integration or usage at the operator’s site is eased by means of special configuration software from Becker. The DVCS reduces pilot fatigue by providing high quality sound high reliability. Operators also praise the ease of maintenance for this system and ability to manage and control all audio sources in the helicopter. The digital multichannel audio and intercom system with its software-configurable profiles provides the possibility to specifically customize the system to meet the demanding multi-role operational requirements. The DVCS 6100 manages all transceivers, receivers and audio warning sources in one central system and provides simulcast capabilities on eight channels. The company says the system is superior to any analog system, as it offers crystal-clear voice communication quality, a man-machine-interface (MMI) and outstanding reliability. The system is scalable and flexible due to its fully configurable software. The system satisfies the standards for night operation under NVG and military conditions. The audio control units (ACU6100) are available with NVIS green (Mil-Std Green B) and white backlight and offer emergency and slaved mode operation. Becker Avionics, 1-954-450-3137, www.becker-avionics.com

Rockwell Collins’ CAAS is Versatile

Rockwell Collins’ Common Avionics Architecture System (CAAS) has a modular open systems architecture (MOSA), which permits expansion through software upgrades. It works much like a desktop or laptop computer; install a CD—or with CAAS, a PCMCIA card—then boot up the system and, voila!, you have a new application. Of course, factors such as safety, security and ruggedness make the airborne system a bit more complex. But the principle is the same. CAAS has accommodated growth since its requirements were first constructed. Advancements have included more and newer communication, navigation, surveillance, flight controls and survivability equipment, along with a brownout hover page. But to accommodate presumptive future growth, Rockwell Collins recently announced the first major hardware upgrade to CAAS since the system was fielded in 2003. The hardware upgrade is accompanied by a software upgrade. There are new capabilities on the horizon for CAAS, such as synthetic vision, wire and obstacle detection, and enhanced situational awareness in brownout conditions. For the hardware upgrade, CAAS users are preparing to swap out the system’s IBM Power PC 750 processors, now obsolete, with the PPC 7448 processors from Freescale. Designed for embedded network control and signal processing applications, the new PPC 7448s provide twice the operating speed and twice the memory of the old 750s, thus allowing for significant systems growth. The software upgrade accompanying the PPC 7448 processors includes application code for backward compatibility with the older Power PC 750s. It also provides reserves for new capabilities, such as JTRS radio control and data management, terrain avoidance warning, health and usage monitoring, and cognitive decision aiding, among others. (JTRS, or Joint Tactical Radio System, is a software-defined voice and data communications technology that is set for U.S. military use this year.) The software also incorporates capabilities unique to the different needs of CAAS users. Rockwell Collins, 1-319-295-5100, www.Rockwellcollins.com

Sagem’s Integrated Cockpit Display System

The Integrated Cockpit Display System or ICDS by Sagem is just what it says—it is “integrated.” The ICDS is a high quality, sunlight readable, flat panel color display with NVG capability. Depending on the configuration, the ICDS can function as a multifunction display (MFD), primary flight display (PFD), engine monitoring system (EMS), navigation display (ND), or a combination of those displays. The engine gages are easily readable on the middle display and will move over to the pilot’s display if the user wants to employ the large middle display for moving map-type functions. If the pilot does use the middle MFD, the engine instruments are always visible on one of the displays. The Sagem product line can be ordered in an NVG-compatible configuration that looks good. Sagem Avionics, 1-972-314-3600, www.sagemavionics.com

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