All-Glass Kit Plane
As reported in our June 2005 issue (page 13) Piper Cubs are being fitted with "glass cockpits." Now kit planes are, too. Paul Echlin, a Boeing 747 pilot with Cathay Pacific Airways, has purchased a Murphy SR3500 Moose kit plane and is having dual 10-inch liquid crystal displays installed.
The two displays are produced by Bend, Ore.-based OP Technologies. One display serves as a primary flight display and the other, an engine monitoring and moving map display. A fully integrated system, the displays are framed by buttons that control all of the Moose's radios through RS422 inputs. No dedicated panel-mount controls exist for either the Becker Avionics nav/com package (with Mode C transponder) or the Free Flight GPS receiver on the aircraft. The GPS input positions the aircraft icon on the moving map display. The displays also are connected to an engine data module, according to John Carinha, owner and director of operations for Aeronav Avionics, Pitt Meadows, British Columbia, which is installing the kit plane's avionics and wiring.
Carinha says the graphic data on one of the OP Technologies displays can be transferred to the other display. Also the graphic software includes a compression function that will allow all data--flight information, engine data and moving map--to appear on one display, should the other display fail.
Echlin's Moose also includes a Dynon EFIS-D10A 5-inch backup display with built-in power pack. In addition to providing flight-display data, the EFIS-D10A also can include a digital checklist.
The aircraft, scheduled for completion in early September, is being simultaneously assembled and fitted with electronics, according to Carinha. A technical standard order (TSO) is expected for the OP Technologies display system by this autumn. No supplemental type certificate (STC) is required for the SR3500 Moose installation because the Murphy kit plane is designated as an experimental aircraft. Visit www.aeronav.ca and www.optechnologies.com.
Using systems already installed on the aircraft, airline pilots now are able to more easily avoid turbulence, thanks to a technology developed by researchers at NASA's Langley Research Center and at AeroTech Research (USA) Inc., Newport News, Va. More than 120 Delta Air Line passenger jets are testing an automatic turbulence reporting system called Turbulence Auto-PIREP System, or TAPS.
"Currently pilots describe turbulence encounters over their radios and by text reports, known as PIREPs, [but] they tend to under-report when they encounter rough air because they're busy trying to fly through or around it," says Jim Watson, NASA's project manager for turbulence prediction and warning systems. "TAPS automatically broadcasts turbulence encounter reports from aircraft and allows other planes as well as people on the ground to use this information."
TAPS software resides in the aircraft's condition monitoring system or digital flight data acquisition unit (DFDAU), which interfaces with the communications management system. When the aircraft encounters turbulence, the software processes such data as airspeed, altitude and angle of attack--all the pertinent information on the ARINC 429 data bus stream. It then decides whether to generate a turbulence report, which also would include time and location of the event. Taking into account the aircraft's parameters, the transmitted report--sent via airborne communications addressing and reporting system (ACARS), VHF or satellite communications--would include a number that indicates the scale of turbulence. This number serves as a common denominator for determining the effect of the turbulence based on the aircraft type. For example, the turbulence may be mild to the reporting aircraft if it is a Boeing 747, but it could be more threatening to the aircraft receiving the PIREP, if it is a regional jet. The submitted PIREP doesn't disclose the aircraft type, just the number. Currently the turbulence information is downlinked to ground facilities, then uplinked to aircraft. But an AeroTech official says TAPS would be "an ideal candidate" for aircraft-to-aircraft communications, using automatic dependent surveillance-broadcast (ADS-B). Visit www.avsp.larc.nasa.gov and www.atr-usa.com.
Malaysia Airlines plans to equip three simulators and its fleet of 92 aircraft with Honeywell's runway awareness advisory system (RAAS), designed to prevent on-ground incidents. A software application hosted in Honeywell's enhanced ground proximity warning system (EGPWS), the RAAS advises flight crews when their aircraft are about to taxi onto a runway, if the runway chosen for takeoff and landing is too short, if the crew is attempting to take off on a taxiway, and that the takeoff or landing is on the intended runway. Malaysia Airlines is the first Asian carrier to acquire the RAAS. Visit www.honeywell.com.
Night Vision Cueing
Vision Systems International (VSI), San Jose, Calif., is refining its design of a display system developed to incorporate aircraft symbology and pilot head tracking and cueing in night vision goggle (NVG) imagery. VSI engineers will adopt user suggestions made since the system's maiden flight on board a U.S. Navy F/A-18F in March at U.S. Naval Weapons Center China Lake, in California. During that flight two F/A-18Fs performed various maneuvers during two sorties, including air-to-ground, air-to-air, low-level and formation flight. The flight was to demonstrate the addition of night capabilities to the Joint Helmet Mounted Cueing System (JHMCS), a helmet with head-up display that will be used in Navy F/A-18s and U.S. Air Force F-15s and F-16s Block 40/50.
VSI--a joint venture between EFW Inc., a subsidiary of Elbit Systems Ltd., and Rockwell Collins--developed the Night Vision Cueing and Display (NVCD) for the Navy. (The Air Force has a separate NVG imagery program.) Based on the QuadEye NVGs developed by Kollsman, an Elbit Systems of America subsidiary, the NVCD is a modular system that projects aircraft state data--Mach number, angle of attack, altitude, airspeed, etc.--along with weapons status and target acquisition. The imagery "is programmable by the pilot," says a VSI official, "meaning he can select the information he wants and declutter to eliminate what he doesn't need." Also incorporated in the JHMCS is a miniature camera that captures the pilot's field of view of the night scenery and symbology, which is recorded for post-flight debrief.
VSI received a $3.3-million developmental contract in February 2005 to develop the NVCD. It plans to have an updated design completed by early 2006. Visit www.vsi-hmcs.com.
World Chooses ADAM
World Airways is installing in its fleet of 14 MD-11s a new voice/data communications system that will provide an automated data interchange between the aircraft worldwide and the company's operations control center and ground support departments at its headquarters in Peachtree City, Ga. The aircraft are being fitted with Flight Explorer's Aircraft Data and Messaging (ADAM) system, which includes aircraft tracking capabilities, and with AirCell's ST 3100 satcom system. The com package is based on the Iridium satellite communications service. World Airways plans to complete the MD-11 installations this year and then equip its three DC-10s. With the new air-to-ground/ground-to-air messaging and data system, the carrier hopes to "increase communication efficiency, reduce the need for paper documents [and] reduce communications costs," says Charles McDonald, World's chief operating officer. Visit www.flightexplorer.com and www.aircell.com.
Radar Replacement Kits
The U.S. Air Force has awarded Northrop Grumman a $52-million three-year contract to finish developing a fire control radar replacement kit for installation on about 240 F-16C/D fighter aircraft. The AN/APG-68(V)10 radar derives from the (V)9 version that six non-U.S. countries have purchased for their new F-16s. Northrop Grumman has delivered 200 (V)9s. Air Force technicians will be able to install the (V)10 upgrade kits in aircraft while they are on the flight line. Visit www.northropgrumman.com.
The Major Shared Resource Center, part of the Aeronautical Systems Center (ASC) at Wright-Patterson AFB, Ohio, is scheduled to receive this month (September) a new supercomputer to aid in advanced weapons systems design research. With the powerful, 10-teraflop HP Cluster Platform 4000, the center plans to accelerate its research on advanced weapons concepts, improve and speed up modification programs, enhance simulation programs, and enable more efficient tests and evaluations, according to ASC officials. The supercomputer is a 1,024-node Cluster Platform 4000 based on HP ProLiant DL145 servers with AMD Opteron processors running the Linux operating system. Visit www.wpafb.af.mil.
Rockwell Collins has entered into an agreement to provide its WXR-2100 MultiScan Hazard Weather Detection System and Airshow 4200 moving map and in-flight information system to Czech Airlines for installation on 12 Airbus A320s. The agreement includes an option on 12 additional aircraft. Deliveries are scheduled to begin in March 2006. Visit www.rockwellcollins.com.
Altimeter in Power
Revue Thommen AG, Waldenburg, Switzerland, has delivered the first AD32 electronic encoding altimeter to Agusta USA, which chose the system for the A109 Power helicopter. The AD32 uses an integrated, solid state sensor to measure static pressure. It displays the computed altitude with an analog pointer and digital liquid crystal display, and then transmits the data via an ARINC 429 bus. Visit www.thommenag.ch.
SBCs for Globemaster III
Telephonics Corp., Farmingdale, N.Y., has awarded Curtiss-Wright Controls, Charlotte, N.C., an about $1-million, multiyear contract to supply single-board computers (SBCs) for the integrated radio management system (IRMS) in the U.S. Air Force's C-17A Globemaster III transport aircraft. The Telephonics IRMS provides secure digital audio capabilities with integrated displays and controls for managing the C-17A's nav/com assets. Curtiss-Wright's Embedded Computing Division will provide its air-cooled SVME 179-2854 SBC. The unit includes an onboard Mil-Std-1553 data bus PCI mezzanine card communications controller. Visit www.telephonics.com and www.cwcembedded.com.
Avionica has announced the first passenger airline to introduce its secureLINK wireless router, used to transfer flight operational quality assurance (FOQA) data stored in the aircraft's quick access recorder (QAR). The European low-cost carrier, flybe, has installed the router in its fleet of Bombardier Dash 8 Q400 turboprop aircraft, which are fitted with Avionica's miniQAR recorders. The airline recently installed wireless access points at its five bases, where data can be transferred within three minutes for examination by its operational safety analysis team. The secureLINK system was certified in November 2004. Based in Exeter, UK, flybe operates 36 aircraft. Visit www.avionica.com.
Preparing for D-TAXI
Trials in which startups, pushbacks and taxi clearances are to be communicated via data link rather than by voice communications are to start at Brussels airport in 2006. A consortium comprising SN Brussels Airlines, Belgocontrol, SITA and the Netherlands' Nationaal Lucht-en Ruimtevaartlaboratorium (NLR) will conduct the trials, which are dubbed D-TAXI (data link taxi service). Coordinating the trials will be the air traffic management (ATM) consulting firm, BluSky Services. To prepare for the trials, SN Brussels plans to equip its entire fleet and train all its pilots, while Belgocontrol will integrate the new service in the flight data processing system of its new air traffic control tower at Brussels airport. Trials are to help validate Eurocontrol's CASCADE program, established to coordinate the implementation of second-generation data link services and initial automatic dependent surveillance-broadcast (ADS-B) applications. Visit www.eurocontrol.int.
Updated King Air
Duncan Aviation in Battle Creek, Mich., recently installed and completed the supplemental type certificate (STC) for the first three-screen configuration of Universal Avionics Systems' EFI-890R flat panel displays. (Two- and four-screen installations already have been certified.) The upgrade to a King Air B-300 also includes Universal's terrain awareness warning system (TAWS), the UNS-1L flight management system, and provisions for a Vision-1 synthetic vision system, a function that will be added to the corporate aircraft once Universal receives system certification. The 8.9-inch diagonal displays, which replace Rockwell Collins cathode ray tube (CRT) displays, integrate with the aircraft's existing dual APS-65 autopilot/flight director and is interfaced with the existing Rockwell Collins ProLine 2 radio suite and Collins weather radar. Duncan also made the copilot's seat fully functional, certifying the right-side autopilot/flight director. In addition to synthetic vision, the King Air will be fitted with a DAC International interface that converts raw uplinked data to a graphic weather display, according to a Duncan official. Visit www.uasc.com and www.duncanaviation.com.
QNT Data Link
The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) and the U.S. Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) have awarded a Rockwell Collins-led team a $3.5-million contract covering initial development of miniature networked data link technologies for use on weapons, tactical unmanned air vehicles (UAVs) and dismounted soldiers. The data links are to enable "precision strike and efficient targeting against time-critical and mobile targets," according to Collins. They also are to allow secure weapons handoff from the launch platform to ground control platforms in the combat area. The contract covers the first phase of the program, titled QUINT Networking Technology (QNT). Contract options for phases two and three, valued at $26 million, could be awarded in December 2005 and September 2007, respectively. Collins' teammates on the QNT program are Thales, Boeing and Launch Pad Labs. Visit www.rockwellcollins.com.
Lockheed Martin recently completed the installation of 10 tactical common data link (TCDL) systems in P-3C aircraft, to help support the U.S. Navy's role in the war on terrorism. The installations provide real-time air-to-ground transmission of sensor videos and other data, which can derive from multiple sources and be "blended" to provide a more complete picture of battle areas, according to a Lockheed Martin official. The installations are part of contract awarded in April to install TCDL systems in 24 P-3C anti-surface warfare improvement program (AIP) aircraft. Visit www.lockheedmartin.com.
Airservices Australia has contracted Honeywell to develop a system that will enhance the accuracy and integrity of GPS navigation to improve air safety and enable smaller airports without traditional navigation aids to continue operations in reduced visibility conditions. The new ground-based regional augmentation system (GRAS) will employ a network of VHF radio stations--some existing and some new--that will transmit radio signals correcting for inherent GPS navigation errors. A GRAS reference station compares information transmitted by GPS satellites with the station's surveyed location, and then links that information to the VHF transmitters for broadcast to aircraft. In addition to offering improved navigation en route, GRAS will provide lateral and vertical guidance, so pilots with GPS-equipped aircraft can safely fly an instrument approach down to 250 feet above ground level in low-visibility conditions. GRAS is similar to the local area augmentation system (LAAS), which Honeywell is developing under an FAA contract. Visit www.honeywell.com.
Cell Phones On Board
Connexion by Boeing and Qualcomm Inc., a wireless product and service provider, have been jointly testing in-flight mobile phone use. Using the Connexion One B737-400, the companies have demonstrated the airborne use of both code division multiple access and global systems mobile cullular phones. The companies connected an onboard picocell to the worldwide terrestrial network via an air-to-ground satellite link provided by Connexion's airborne network. Qualcomm provided its BREW (Binary Runtime Environment for Wireless) system, which allows wireless voice communications, as well as the ability to download e-mail, 3D games, instant messaging and other data. Visit www.boeing.com and www.qualcomm.com.
The NATO Helicopter Design and Development Production and Logistics Management Agency (NAHEMA) has contracted Thales to provide airborne tactical navigation (TACAN) for the NH-90 NATO frigate helicopter. Starting in September, Thales will deliver 26 of its AN-490N TACAN interrogators, nine to the French Navy and 17 to the Italian Navy. Visit www.thalesgroup.com.
El Al Satcom
El Al Airlines is equipping its seven Boeing 747-200 aircraft with Sky Connect Iridium satellite terminals, which will provide these long-haul carriers with global cockpit voice and data communications. GayaCom, Iridium's Israel-based service provider, will supply the Sky Connect Classic satellite phone systems. Visit www.iridium.com.
ARINC Direct's facility at Scottsdale (Ariz.) airport recently received FAA repair station certification. It joins the company's operations at Colorado Springs (Colo.) airport in providing aircraft support to the business aviation community. Visit www.arinc.com.
Cirrus says it will make the Bendix-King KGP 560 enhanced ground proximity warning system (EGPWS) standard equipment on its SR20 and SR22 models.
Korean P-3 FLIR
A team led by Korea Aerospace Industries has awarded a contract worth more than $5 million to FLIR Systems to supply the Star SAFIRE thermal imaging system for the Korean Navy's P-3 Lot II maritime patrol aircraft program. Deliveries are to begin in 2006. Visit www.flir.com.