Business & GA

Two Options in Bizjets Upgrades

By David Jensen | January 1, 2002
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At the 1999 National Business Aviation Association (NBAA) conference and exhibition, Honeywell unveiled its Primus Epic CDS/R (Control Display System/Retrofit). It extended to corporate operators of older aircraft the latest avionics technology that the company had developed for original equipment manufacturers (OEMs). One year later, at the same event, Rockwell Collins introduced its latest technology for the retrofit market: Pro Line 21 Continuum.

Both programs target the business jet market and provide operators of either electromechanical instruments or cathode ray tube (CRT) electronic flight instrument systems (EFIS) the opportunity to upgrade with systems that:

  • Include the lighter, clearer, more reliable active matrix liquid crystal displays (AMLCDs),

  • Are modular, allowing a building block approach to cockpit modernization,

  • Provide greater reliability and reduced lifecycle costs,

  • Improve pilot situational awareness,

  • Contain open system architectures that allow for system growth and assure accessibility to airspace in the future.

Both Primus Epic CDS/R and Pro Line 21 Continuum overcame the daunting task of interfacing new, glass cockpit technology with older autopilots and flight directors in a way that operators can afford. Cost is always an issue with retrofits, which is why both programs are modular and provide options, depending on need and cost restrictions.

Both programs are in the midst of certification milestones. At the same time, they enter an uncertain marketplace, given current geopolitical and economic conditions. An industry analyst with Frost & Sullivan predicts–quite understandably–a short-term slowdown in the business jet retrofit market. Long term, it is difficult to predict. But if the worldwide economy continues to sag, many companies may well opt to upgrade their older aircraft rather than buy new ones. And those companies will be targeted by Honeywell and Rockwell Collins.

Primus Epic CDS/R

The complete Primus Epic CDS/R system gained supplemental type certificate (STC) and technical standard order (TSO) approval on Oct. 15, 2001, with its certification on board Honeywell’s Cessna Citation V. CDS/R is being fitted in four other aircraft types: a Gulfstream II, Gulfstream III, Lockheed Martin L-382 (C-130) and a SAC Y8 turboprop manufactured in China. Installations will be completed at one of Honeywell’s about 150 dealers worldwide.

DaimlerChrysler Aviation Inc. completed the first CDS/R customer installation in a Gulfstream II. The aircraft also was fitted with Honeywell’s Primus II radio package, Enhanced Ground Proximity Warning System (EGPWS), and the SPZ-800 flight director/autopilot, as well as an L-3 traffic alert and collision avoidance system (TCAS) and Goodrich GH-3000 standby instrument system. Completion work was done at DaimlerChrysler’s facility at Oakland County International Airport.

"Our focus was to bring legacy aircraft to the current state of the art and extend their lives for the next 10 to 15 years," says Johnny Glakas, Honeywell’s director of retrofit programs. The CDS/R gives older aircraft essentially the same capability and growth potential as new aircraft fitted with Primus Epic avionics. Primus Epic comes standard in 12 types, representing a broad range of aircraft–for example, the Hawker Horizon bizjet, the Agusta-Bell AB-139 helicopter, and the Fairchild Dornier 728JET and Embraer ERJ-170 and -190 regional jets. Such diversity shows the system’s flexibility.

Primus Epic and Primus Epic CDS/R are distinct. They both employ AMLCDs. But key to the Primus Epic is its Virtual Backplane Network, with open architecture supplied by the bidirectional avionics standard communication bus (ASCB). CDS/R has an open architecture based on ARINC 429.

"Basically, CDS/R is a hybrid system of Primus Epic and Primus 1000," says Glakas. "We took the large display format of the Primus Epic and married it to an integrated computer that includes an analog-to-digital conversion card." While the Primus 1000 is CRT-based, the CDS/R adopts active matrix AMLCD technology from the Primus Epic product line.

Other features unique to Primus Epic CDS/R include the IC-1080 Integrated Avionics Computer (IAC), a modified version of the IC-600 IAC in Primus 1000 that can accommodate an optional, internal FMZ 2000 flight management system (FMS) and a GPS receiver. The IC-1080 weighs 15 pounds (6.8 kg) and operates at 70 watts (28 volts DC). It contains extra analog input/output functions to ensure a broad range of applications for the Primus Epic CDS/R.

The IC-1080 processor includes software enhancements to accommodate growth, as well. The enhancements will allow operators to take on communication, navigation, surveillance/air traffic management (CNS/ATM) capabilities, such as satellite communication and navigation, Controller Pilot Data Link Communications (CPDLC), and airborne collision avoidance system (ACAS).

"In addition, sensor switching now is done internally by the IC-1080," says Glakas. "This allowed us to eliminate the [external] relay sensor switching networks prevalent in legacy aircraft." The aircraft no longer requires external, mechanical relays for, say, the navigation sensor or attitude heading source; the switching is done digitally within the processor. And, among other advantages, this reduces wiring weight considerably.

Indeed, with such features as the 1-MHz high data link communications bus that connects the IC-1080 processors with the DU-1080 display units, the digital Primus Epic CDS/R system can slash weight from older, electromechanical aircraft. "We saved more than 400 pounds [181 kg] of wiring and avionics weight in a Gulfstream II upgrade by one of our dealers," Glakas claims.

Also exclusive to CDS/R is the color, flat panel DU-1080 display unit, which was designed to interface with almost all autopilots and flight directors. It will receive inputs for weather radar, moving maps, video and an EGPWS. The AMLCDs are interchangeable and operate independently, each having its own electronic symbol generator and graphic processor.

The baseline CDS/R avionics package, according to Glakas, will include two IC-1080 integrated computers, three 8-by-10-inch DU-1080 AMLCDs and display controls. In this configuration two screens will serve as primary flight displays (PFDs) and one as a multifunction display (MFD). However, operators can choose various configurations: those flying smaller aircraft may choose to install just two AMLCDs; large-aircraft operators may choose up to four.

The primary flight display in a three-display configuration would replace up to 10 electromechanical indicators. The MFD primarily would serve as a navigation display, with both "plan" and "map" modes to enhance crew situational awareness. The latter mode provides data from the flight management system–such as nearest airports, runway information, approach procedures, SID/STARS (standard instrument departure/standard terminal arrival routes), navaids and fuel burn–while the plan mode provides a north-up display with the waypoints and flight plan. Weather and EGPWS imagery can be overlaid on the MFD and check-list windows can be called up. Honeywell offers options for display control, including joy stick, roller ball and on-screen "soft" keys.

As for the future of Primus Epic CDS/R, Glakas says, "We will continue to offer software upgrades. The system will evolve with the aviation environment. "Future upgrades will include an interface with a broader range of radios and increased display functionality," he adds. "We will, for example, be moving into CPDLC."

Collins’ Continuum

While the Primus Epic CDS/R is strictly a big-display retrofit system, Rockwell Collins’ Pro Line 21 Continuum program offers different sized AMLCD flight displays as options: 10 by 8 inch, 7 by 7 inch, 7 by 6 inch, and 5 by 5 inch. Called "adaptive flight displays," they offer advanced graphic capabilities and can support numerous configurations and applications, according to Director of Sales Bryan Vester.

Continuum is based on PowerPC processors, says Tim Rayl, Collins’ director of advanced products. "We use as many processors as needed for computing power and redundancy" he adds. Collins employs the Motorola 603r for much of that power but also is working with the 7400 series PC processor. "We’ve started planning for the next processor," Rayl says. "The 7400 series is not as proven as the 603r, so we’ll start using it only in less critical areas."

Collins developed the Continuum program to provide an upgrade path for Pro Line 4 users, as well as a retrofit package for aircraft equipped with Pro Line I/II and other legacy systems. Because Continuum customers can tailor their upgrade in many ways, Collins officials hesitate to define a baseline system, preferring to emphasize the system’s modularity.

"But we have a couple of flight deck packages that we recommend to customers," says Vester. "One is the FDS-2000, a 5-inch AMLCD flight display system that is a direct replacement for electromechanical and CRT-based systems, requiring minimal rework to the panel. It can include just two displays or go up to five displays and can interface with most autopilots.

"The other [Continuum package] would include 10-by-8-inch displays, FMS and a new autopilot," he adds.

The FDS-2000 system was certified for the Gulfstream II, G-IIB and G-III in 2000 and in the Challenger 600 in 2001. Collins also received approval for the FDS-2000 on the Citation III in November 2001. The company expected to gain certification of the large display system in the Falcon 50 by year-end 2001. And Continuum approvals on the Falcon 20 and Challenger 601 are expected in the first quarter of 2002. Collins’ network of more than 200 dealers will perform the Continuum installations.

Vester says the Pro Line 21 Continuum program is "about identical" to the Pro Line 21 products that have been selected as standard equipment on the Premier 1, Citation CJ1 and CJ2, Bombardier Continental, Hawker 800XP and the Bell Agusta 609 tilt-rotor aircraft. "The idea was to keep the systems the same, so as we introduce new technologies, they will forward-fit for the OEM [original equipment manufacturer] and be available for the aftermarket," he says.

Like Pro Line 21, Continuum uses a standard ARINC 429-based bus structure. An optional Ethernet bus is available to support such advanced capabilities as graphical weather, enhanced mapping and electronic charting. The Ethernet bus comes courtesy of Collins’ file server unit, which is separate from the system’s ARINC 429-based Integrated Avionics Processing System, or IAPS, the heart of Continuum. Software functions can be added via the file server unit, thanks to Continuum’s "partitioned processing," which makes software and hardware independent of each other.

"In other words, you can change software code without changing the underlying hardware," Vester explains. Partitioned processing also allows "simultaneous computation of software, where [there are] different levels of criticality, from level E to level A," he adds.

The FDU provides the mass data storage to host many of the new functions Collins announced in October for Pro Line 21 Continuum, while including the bandwidth capacity to provide that information up to the flight display through the Ethernet interface. These functions include terrain databases, JeppView, uplinked graphical weather and enhanced FMS map displays. All of these features are to be available by the first quarter of 2003, according to David Wu, Collins’ director of marketing.

The graphical weather, which can be integrated with the flight plan on the navigation display, will be provided by Universal Weather and Aviation Inc. (UWAI). Collins announced an agreement with UWAI in mid-September 2001. The electronic charting capability enables a flight crew to call up JeppView charts on the MFD and have their position "geo-referenced" on the charts, using an airplane symbol and inputs from the FMS. Integration with the FMS also will allow the quick call-up of approach charts of the destination airport (and diversion airports, if desired), determined by the flight plan. Enhanced mapping on the MFD also is planned, so that the flight crew can overlay on maps such features as political boundaries, cities and terrain profiles.

Components from Collins’ Pro Line 21 CNS product line will be available to Continuum customers, too. Designed for direct replacement, this product line includes VHF digital link Mode 2 com, VHF nav, HF com and satcom, as well as GPS, a Mode-S diversity transponder and a communications management unit. "The first certification and delivery of [the CNS] line of radios is scheduled for mid-2002," says Vester. "That will be in the [Bombardier] Continental."

Like the Honeywell Primus Epic CDS/R, Collins’ Continuum program has been designed to evolve as the flight environment evolves. Features planned, as CNS/ATM requirements unfold, include:

  • Required time of arrival, providing four-dimensional FMS;

  • Automatic dependent surveillance-broadcast (ADS-B);

  • Aeronautical telecommunication network (ATN), and

  • Wide and Local Area Augmentation Systems (WAAS and LAAS).

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