Eclipse Aviation Corp.’s rollout of the Eclipse 500 drew attention to the entry-level business jet’s sophisticated Avio avionics and systems management package. Avio controls aircraft systems, such as the dual-channel, full-authority digital engine controls (FADEC), flight management system (FMS), communications, dual autopilot, auto-throttle, flaps, trim, landing gear and environmental systems. The glass cockpit boasts an integrated multifunction display (MFD) and dual primary flight displays (PFDs). Dual keyboards are provided to control the PFDs and MFD.
Avio also captures health-monitoring data, compiling a performance history for each system. All critical functions are duplicated, with components physically separated and powered by separate power buses and sources. "Smart" actuators and proximity switches are used. Eclipse also provides weather radar, terrain avoidance warning system-B (TAWS-B), automatic dependent surveillance broadcast-B (ADS-B), and the capability for reduced vertical separation minima (RVSM), as well as active route moving map and dual VHF com/nav, localizer/glideslope, Mode-S transponder, GPS and attitude heading reference systems (AHRS).
Eclipse developed Avio with Avidyne, BAE Systems and General Dynamics. Visit www.eclipseaviation.com.
Air Traffic Alliance
EADS, Airbus and Thales have formed an open alliance to create, over a decades-long period, a global solution that increases air traffic capacity while improving safety and security. Activities of the new Air Traffic Alliance team are associated with initiatives undertaken by the European Union, Eurocontrol and the European civil aviation authorities. The team members have proposed a plan that would simultaneously integrate and deploy aircraft capabilities and highly automated ground air traffic control (ATC) systems, taking advantage of new technologies. The Alliance, announced at the Farnborough Air Show, plans to focus on:
Real-time exchange and sharing of flight plan and trajectory data between airline operations centers, aircraft, airports and ATC centers;
Data link-enhanced air-to-air and air-to-ground surveillance; satellite-based navigation; and automated flight plan data processing.
The Air Traffic Alliance expects to begin work on an operational concept in 2003. The group stresses its intent to cooperate with airspace users, air traffic services providers and all stakeholders. Boeing ATM, which has a similar modernization goal, applauds the initiative as contributing to the cause of global air traffic management, says a company official. Visit www.thalesgroup.com, www.airbus.com, and www.eads.net.
Connexion by Boeing obtained UK regulatory approval to use a range of frequencies for its broadband Internet, e-mail and additional data services. The approval by the UK’s Radiocommunications Agency will lead the way to three-month demonstrations of the Boeing service with British Airways and Lufthansa on trans-Atlantic routes, scheduled to begin in the first three months of 2003. Connexion by Boeing also has received approvals from authorities in Germany, Canada and the United States.
The company has contracted with Eutelsat for additional transponder capacity to support advance testing and the trans-Atlantic service demonstrations but expects to use the Brazilian Estrela do Sul 1 satellite for long-term support in the North Atlantic region.
Connexion by Boeing also announced the signing of a letter of intent with Japan Airlines (JAL). It calls for the broadband service to be installed on 10 long-haul aircraft, with options for service expansion. The primary focus will be the Japan-to-Europe route. Visit www.connexionbyboeing.com.
Honeywell ADIRU on A380
Airbus has tapped Honeywell to supply the next-generation air data inertial reference unit (ADIRU) for the A380 superjumbo aircraft, as well as for the A330/A340 and A320 families. The award is worth an estimated $390 million over the life of the programs, including aftermarket business. The ADIRU is designed for triple-redundant installation on these aircraft, providing information to the flight management system (FMS) and other avionics systems on altitude, air speed, air temperature, attitude and position.
The contract marks the eighth system that Honeywell supplies to the A380. The other seven include the FMS, aircraft environment surveillance system (AESS)–which integrates weather radar, traffic alert collision avoidance system (TCAS) and enhanced ground proximity warning system (EGPWS)–the electromechanical thrust reverser actuation system (E-TRAS) in partnership with Hispano-Suiza, the pneumatic system on the Rolls-Royce Trent 900 engine, the secondary electric power distribution systems (SEPDS), the wheels and brakes in partnership with Dunlop Aerospace, and the precoolers of the Liebherr bleed air system. Visit www.honeywell.com.
Pathfinder Relays HDTV
NASA’s solar-powered flying-wing aircraft, the Pathfinder-Plus, operating under remote control, relayed high-definition television (HDTV) and third-generation cellular audio and video calls in demonstration flights at an altitude of more than 65,000 feet (12 miles) over the Hawaiian island of Kauai in June and July. The aircraft, flying at 21,000 feet, also was used to establish an Internet link.
According to the U.S. space agency, the demonstration is believed to be the first stratospheric relay from a remotely operated high-altitude platform station (HAPS) aircraft, using commercially available HDTV, cell phone and Internet equipment. According to a participant, the video signal was comparable in quality to that provided by fiber optic systems. The demonstration flights, conducted over the U.S. Navy’s Pacific Missile Range Facility, were sponsored and funded by Japanese telecom researchers from the Japanese Ministry of Communications laboratories and private firms. Visit www.dfrc.nasa.gov.
Rockwell Collins has signed memoranda of agreement with Airbus and Tenzing Communications to provide passenger connectivity on commercial airplanes. Collins intends to invest $10 million in Tenzing and will collaborate with that company in developing solutions. A gradual development approach is planned, starting with e-mail and messaging and eventually moving to broadband connectivity with Internet content, entertainment and live TV, Collins says. Collins already supports the Airbus inFlight Information System (AFIS) for the A340 and the A320 families, including operational and passenger applications. Visit www.rockwellcollins.com.
Crew Training Debrief
Lufthansa and Air Canada plan to use Spirent Systems’ latest flight crew training debrief products. After benchmarking and testing, Lufthansa’s flight training organization selected Spirent’s ReVision product to support its Airbus 320 family. Designed for civil and military instruction, ReVision supports classroom, crew-based training, fixed-base and full flight simulator training and briefing. Spirent, of Wichita, Kan., also will supply Air Canada with the Vision aircraft flight animation system, which reconstructs and visualizes flight operational data. Vision software is to be integrated with the carrier’s flight operations data and quality assurance (FODA/FOQA) programs. Visit www.spirent-systems.com.
Honeywell has obtained certification for two voice/data civil aviation radios. The XK 516D HF radio for long-range communications has been certified on the Airbus 318, 319, 320, 321, 330 and 340 aircraft. And the new VHF data link (VDL) Mode 2 (VDL-2) version of Honeywell’s RTA-44D VHF radio has received manufacturing approval. Data messaging helps eliminate the ambiguities of voice communications and reduces radio congestion and costs. The HF radio could be used to automate position reporting in transoceanic travel, reducing error potential and pilot workload. The VHF radio, which transmits 10 times faster than today’s devices, will be used initially for communications between flight crews and airline operations centers. But VDL-2 data radios will be used for routine communication with air traffic controllers in some airspace as of late 2002, according to U.S. government plans. Visit www.honeywell.com.
As satellite radio companies begin to roll out offerings for automobiles, the corporate aviation market is interested, as well. "We’re getting a lot of interest in satellite radios," observes Steve Elofson, avionics sales representative for Duncan Aviation, a major corporate aviation completion center. "The most popular function our operators are looking for is news-type broadcasts, such as NBC, CNBC, MSNBC." Duncan Aviation has installed several consumer-class satellite radios, on a case-by-case basis, depending on the inclinations of local regulatory authorities. Duncan Aviation expects Baker Electronics, a major display, switching and in-flight entertainment (IFE) supplier, to offer XM Satellite Radio units to the aviation market later this year.
Honeywell and Rohde & Schwarz have announced the availability of a radio operating on civilian and military bands, to link fighters and airliners. The M3AR can communicate on both civilian VHF and military UHF bands, something the U.S. Air Force has requested, Honeywell says. New air refuelers that would transition back and forth between military and civil uses also could employ the units. The equipment meets European requirements for 8.33-KHz spacing and FM immunity. It also includes electronic protective measures, such as the frequency-hopping algorithms known as Have Quick I/II and SATURN (second anti-jam tactical UHF radio for NATO), which enable secure speech and data transmission. Visit www.honeywell.com.
VG Taps ARINC
Belgian carrier, VG Airlines, has selected ARINC communications services for the airline’s new daily service from Brussels to several U.S. destinations. VG will use ARINC’s GlobalLink VHF and satcom voice and data services exclusively on its trans-Atlantic routes. Direct service from Brussels to New York began in May and service to Boston, in June. Service to Los Angeles was expected to begin in July. Visit www.arinc.com.
Customs P-3 Upgrade
Lockheed Martin Aeronautics Co. will upgrade four U.S. Customs Service P-3B airborne early warning (AEW) aircraft–numbers 1 through 4–under a $27-million contract with the agency. The upgraded P-3Bs will feature extensive commonality with the service’s P-3 interceptor aircraft, making it easier for crews to fly both aircraft interchangeably. Modifications to the four P-3Bs, which will duplicate the company’s earlier configuration of AEW No. 7, include a common glass cockpit with a new flight management system (FMS), dual-channel digital autopilot, digital engine instruments, tactical display, updated mission system and upgraded radar. The company will add a common communications and navigation system update, as well. Visit www.lockheedmartin.com and www.lmaeronatics.com.
Taiwan Fighter Update
BAE Systems Controls will upgrade the flight control computer on Taiwan’s Indigenous Defensive Fighter (IDF) under a $7.1-million contract with the Taiwan-based Aerospace Industrial Development Corp. (AIDC). Six PowerPC-based, 32-bit computers will be used in a two-year flight test program to begin in 2004. BAE Systems Controls expects that successful flight tests will lead to an order for some 130 additional units to replace existing 16-bit computers. Visit www.baesystems.com.
Rockwell Collins AMLCDs
Rockwell Collins’ newest generation of active matrix liquid crystal displays (AMLCDs), developed for the Boeing 747-400 extended range aircraft, were expected to achieve certification this month. The first aircraft is scheduled for delivery in October 2002.
The 8-by-8-inch DU-7001’s advanced graphics capabilities will support future options, such as vertical situation display, airport surface maps and electronic checklists. If a video card is added, the DU-7001 can support synthetic vision or video surveillance systems. The AMLCD also improves life cycle costs, compared with older cathode ray tubes (CRTs).
The new technology uses proprietary light emitting diode (LED) back lighting, involving hundreds of individual LEDs. This approach eliminates the single fluorescent tube used in some other displays and increases optical performance and reliability. The display, for example, will continue to function with up to 70 percent of the LEDs disabled, Collins claims.
The new displays are compatible in form, fit and function with CRT displays on earlier B747-400s. Visit www.rockwellcollins.com.
UH-1Y First Flight
The U.S. Marine Corps’ remanufactured Huey utility helicopter, the UH-1Y, has made its first flight at the Patuxent River NAS, Md., checking rotor track and balance, as well as instrumentation. The Navy’s H-1 Upgrade Program is modernizing the USMC’s fleet of combat utility and attack helicopters by remanufacturing UH-1N Hueys and AH-1W Super Cobras to have 84 percent commonality: a common drive train, rotor head, tail boom, avionics, software and controls. The move is estimated to save the service approximately $3 billion in operating and support costs over the estimated 30-year life of the aircraft. Visit http://pao.navair.navy.mil.
Thales Flight Simulator
KLM has tapped Thales Training & Simulation to provide a Boeing 777 full flight simulator (FFS), the first such equipment Thales has supplied to the Dutch airline. To be installed at KLM’s training facility at Schiphol airport, the equipment is expected to be ready for use in September 2003, fully qualified to Federal Aviation Administration Level D, the most rigorous internationally recognized rating. The FFS will employ Evans & Sutherland’s new EP1000 visual system. Visit www.thales-tts.com.
Eurocontrol Safety Focus
In the wake of the recent midair collision in Germany, Eurocontrol plans to launch a High-Level European Air Traffic Management Safety Action Group to assess safety in the European air traffic management system, which handles about 8 million flights a year.
Eurocontrol’s Provisional Council also called for support to member states for the implementation of existing Eurocontrol safety regulatory requirements through guidance, training material and workshops, and implementation of runway safety recommendations. These recommendations are based on a survey launched by the agency last year in cooperation with the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), Joint Aviation Authorities (JAA), Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and the Group of Airport Safety Regulators. Visit www.eurocontrol.int.
Enhanced Bit Rate 1553
The Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) is close to completing a spec for a 10-megabit/sec (10-Mbit/sec) implementation of the Mil-Std-1553 protocol. Known as the Enhanced Bit Rate 1553, or EBR-1553, the faster interconnect was necessitated by the development of smaller munitions, multiples of which can be carried in the place of a large bomb. The last changes to the EBR-1553 draft were approved in July 2002 and SAE final acceptance is expected late this year. Work is proceeding on EBR-1553 test plans.
The new bus, developed to support the interfaces to miniature munitions, uses the 1553 protocol, Manchester encoding and 20-bit words with digital, command/response, time-division multiplexed techniques. But it has substituted commercial RS-485 transceivers, in accordance with an Air Force preference for commercial off-the-shelf, or COTS, technology wherever possible. Technically, the EBR-1553 is not a "true bus," observers say, but a collection of point-to-point links.
The EBR-1553 employs a star configuration, with up to 31 separate shielded, twisted pairs between a special-purpose processor and each remote terminal (RT) within an individual weapon. Each pair of wires has its own transceiver. This approach was adopted because it was low-risk: it could be designed and implemented quickly. It also improves noise isolation and potential electromagnetic interference (EMI) performance, says Bill Schuh of Condor Engineering, chair of the AS-1A1 task group for the EBR-1553. The approach to some extent was dictated by the choice of lower-power, COTS transceivers.
The EBR-1553 requires a logical hub, implemented with active electronics and firmware, which switches messages from the high-speed 1553 "engine" to each RT. The system uses a composite bus monitoring traffic line. EBR is "just a hub and point-to-point links," says Mike Glass, technical marketing manager, with Data Device Corp. But a true, 10-MHz multidrop bus, using RS-485 transceivers, could run into transmission line issues if the stubs exceed 2 to 3 feet in length, he says.
The EBR-1553 document will be referenced by the miniature munitions/store interface (MMSI) definition, a specification which SAE’s MMSI task group–in cooperation with the Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL)–is developing. MMSI would standardize the interface between small munitions and the aircraft weapons carriage device, or adapter. Since the connector and signal set defined by the Mil-Std-1760 aircraft/weapon interface standard are not considered optimal for small weapons applications, given the connector’s high release force, size and cost, the draft MMSI standard defines a more appropriate connector and signal set.
The upper part of the adapter will be compatible with the Mil-Std-1760 interface, and the lower part will provide multiple MMSI interfaces, which use elements of the conventional 1760 interface but replace the 1-Mbit/sec 1553 with the faster bus, says Fred Benedick, vice chair of SAE’s MMSI task group. Benedick is also the director of systems engineering at WINTEC, which is developing and demonstrating a prototype MMSI implementation under an AFRL Small Business Innovative Research (SBIR) agreement.
Requests for weapon status updates pass through an internal aircraft 1-Mbit/sec 1553 bus inside the conventional 1760 weapons interface, through the adapter unit and onto the 10-Mbit/sec EBR-1553 "network," defined as a collection of interface paths to a set of terminals. The adapter functions as both a remote terminal for the onboard, 1-Mbit/sec 1553 aircraft stores bus and as a bus controller for the 10-Mbit/sec 1553 data communications network. The benefit of this arrangement is that the miniature munitions can be polled at high speed on a continuous basis, so that information is available, with minimum latency, when the aircraft needs it, Benedick explains. There is also growth capacity to accommodate future increases in store data requirements. Right now, weapons are on a 1760 interface using the 1-Mbit/sec 1553 bus.
Companies are developing EBR-1553 solutions but also investigating the feasibility of a 10-Mbit/sec data bus using a traditional bus structure. Excalibur Systems, for example is looking at the feasibility of a "more universal solution," using a higher-speed, fault-tolerant transceiver, says George Sponsler, the company’s director of sales and marketing and chairman of SAE’s avionics subcommittee. "It would facilitate 1553-type implementations, where you could easily add and remove RTs.
"The reason for 1553 was to reduce the amount of copper weight. Now we’re adding point-to-point and a lot of complexity by not having a 1553 transceiver." The EBR-1553 is a "hard-wired system with no flexibility," Sponsler says. Although the system is a "virtual bus, it is actually a point-to-point [link.]" Excalibur’s investigation, however, would depend on the avionics community’s interest in a high-speed version of the 1760 interface.
National Hybrid is looking at the feasibility of a 10-MHz avionics bus, focusing on cabling and transceiver technology, according to Roy Nardin, director of product development and a participant in the EBR-1553 and MMSI efforts. "People would like to have that. They’re just not sure if it’s really viable. Will it work with stubs hanging off of it? Will there be such VSWR [voltage standing wave ratio] problems that your stubs don’t work?" Meanwhile, the use of RS-485 transceivers reduces noise performance, he says. "You lose at least 3 dB in signal-to-noise performance because of the way [the system] is driven." This may not be significant over a short distance, he adds, but it remains to be seen.