Business & GA, Commercial, Military

Industry Scan

By Julie Samuel | December 1, 2006
Send Feedback

Infrared System Adapted For GA

Infrared imaging technology developed for the military and employed in high- end cars and other markets is being adapted for an enhanced vision system (EVS) available to the general aviation market.

“We are positioning this as an enhanced vision system,” Larry Riddle, L-3 Avionics Systems vice president of business development, said of the company’s new IRIS infrared imaging system. L-3’s Aeromet division in Tulsa, Okla., is working toward supplemental type certification of the system on the King Air C-90 by the first quarter 2007.

At $15,000 for the camera portion of the system — the type of cockpit display may vary — L-3 aims to crack the GA market “as low as a 4-place piston” with an affordable EVS option, Riddle told reporters at the NBAA convention in Orlando.

IRIS is an uncooled system based on patented Barium Strontium Titanate (BST) ferroelectric detector technology. It is a “direct derivative” of a thermal weapons sight developed for the U.S. military, L-3 says, and is adapted from systems used in the automotive, search and rescue, military and firefighting markets.

L-3 says the real-time, black and white, constantly calibrated image produced by the IRIS camera will greatly improve pilot situational awareness and aid terrain mapping, weather mapping and ground maneuvers. It is expected to serve well at rural airports without approach indicators. The BST technology “offers total solar immunity” so that pilots retain the view when taking off into the sun.

In fog conditions, “IRIS will see better than the naked eye can see in fog, but it really depends on the type of fog,” said Wendy Ljungren, L-3 chief technology officer.

Ljungren acknowledged that IRIS “doesn’t have the sensitivity of a higher-cost cooled system,” but said the clarity, at 320 x 240 pixels is “outstanding” for the price point. “Why would you pay more?” she asked.

The forward-looking IRIS camera will be positioned in the air conditioning access panel below the pilot’s window on the King Air C-90. Other potential locations are the wing, empennage or radome. What hasn’t been defined is the system’s cockpit display. L-3 says the image will display on any system with an RS-170 or National Television System Committee (NTSC) composite video input. L-3 says it is working with unnamed avionics manufacturers on display options that may include electronic flight bags (EFBs), standalone displays or other systems.

“We have been working closely with several [original equipment manufacturers] in evaluating and integrating the system, and the OEMs have responded with significant interest and excitement,” said Adrienne Stevens, president of L-3 Avionics Systems.

New Messaging Service

ARINC introduced a business-class messaging service, AviNet exchange, using Internet Protocol technologies while maintaining backward compatibility with legacy and proprietary messaging methods now used in the air transport industry Visit

Vibration Monitoring System

The U.S. Navy selected Honeywell to provide its vibration monitoring system (VMS) for the MQ-8B Fire Scout vertical takeoff and landing tactical unmanned air vehicle (VTUAV) built by Northrop Grumman. Visit

Prototype Software Radio

Boeing completed hardware and software integration of a Block 4 Software-Defined Radio (SDR) for the U.S. Air Force B-2 Bomber program. A prototype system was delivered to the Air Force in September, supporting B-2 Advanced Extremely High Frequency integration efforts. Visit

DARPA Sensor Research

The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) has awarded $4 million to Lockheed Martin to support its large area coverage optical search while track and engage (LACOSTE) program. Phase 1 of the effort, which will last 18 months, is intended to prove the concept of image formation using an electronically con- trolled array of apertures. Visit

L-3 Names CEO

L-3 Communications Holdings on Oct. 24 named Michael T. Strianese as CEO, president and member of the board. Strianese, 50, had served as interim CEO and chief financial officer since the death of one of L-3’s founders, Frank C. Lanza, in June.

L-3, based in New York City, is the sixth largest U.S. defense contractor and the largest defense contractor in Canada. It has four operating segments: command, control, communications, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (C3ISR), government services, aircraft modernization and maintenance, and specialized products.

The company has grown in revenues from $650 million in 1997 to an estimated $12.4 billion this year, with 62,000 employees. Visit

Software Suit Settled

Rockwell Collins said it settled claims in federal court against Avcom Avionics & Instruments for “unauthorized use” of its software used in upgrading Traffic Collision Avoidance Systems (TCAS) and in operating avionics test equipment. Avcom, based in Miami, agreed to pay $3.4 million.

As part of that settlement, Avcom acknowledged that it had violated Rockwell Collins’ copyrights and trademarks and breached license agreements. Rockwell Collins filed suit in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Iowa.

“As demonstrated by this lawsuit, Rockwell Collins will take legal action to protect its software and other intellectual property from unauthorized use,” said Gary Chadick, Rockwell Collins senior vice president and general counsel. “We are pleased that the parties were able to resolve this case under terms that we believe fairly compensate Rockwell Collins for use of its intellectual property.”

Avcom President Rolando Suarez said, “We believe the settlement to be fair to both parties and are pleased we are put- ting our disputes behind us.” Visit http://

SKYLink Use Grows

ARINC Direct sold 56 SKYLink broadband Internet systems for corporate aircraft in the 18 months after the service was introduced in April 2005.

Reporting on the progress of the high-speed service at the 2006 NBAA convention, ARINC said it expected to have 40 aircraft flying with the system by year-end. About 20 percent of new Gulfstream G450 and G550 business jets have been ordered with broadband multi-link avionics (BBML) for the SKYLink broadband service. ARINC also announced Dassault’s selection of SKYLink as a factory option for the Falcon 7X ultra-long-range business jet, due for certification in 2007.

“It’s a mature and thriving business,” Robert Thompson, ARINC senior director, business aviation services, told reporters at the NBAA convention. “We had a very conservative technology plan to start.”

A Ku-band satellite service, SKYLink provides in-flight Internet, Intranet, Voice over IP (VoIP), Fax over IP (FoIP) and Virtual Private Network (VPN) features.

Subscriber terminals and ground infrastructure are provided by ViaSat, of Carlsbad, Calif. The system supports data transfer rates of 128 Kbps from the air- craft and up to 3.5 Mbps to the aircraft.

ARINC also announced the provision of two-way satellite data link communications based on the Iridium satellite constellation, using avionics hardware from International Communications Group, Newport News, Va.

The ARINC Direct Iridium system is interoperable with the Collins CMU 4000, Proline 21 and Honeywell AFIS systems, with other systems expected to follow. Visit

New WAAS Sensor

Spectralux Corp., Redmond, Wash., introduced a new circuit card for avionics manufacturers requiring a custom form factor Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS) sensor that meets Wide Area Augmentation System (WAAS) Beta-3 requirements.

The initial product offering is a circuit card assembly measuring only 15 square inches and weighing 150 grams. Technical Standard Order approval by FAA is scheduled for early 2007. It is the first result of the “NexNav” strategic alliance between Spectralux and Accord Software and Systems, of Bangalore, India, to build GNSS sensor products.

“Beta-3 is the highest aerospace performance standard for GNSS available today,” said J.M. Sundaresan, Accord managing director. “The NexNav sensor will allow all kinds of OEMs who need precise information on position, velocity, and time to get a solution that will fit their needs.”

The NexNav sensor meets requirements of DO-229D and TSO C145b, and can be fitted into an existing line replaceable unit (LRU) or provided as a standalone module. The sensor features 12 GPS and three Satellite Based Augmentation System (SBAS) channels. It consumes 5 watts of power in a typical installation. Visit

Broadband Selection

Honeywell has selected EMS Satcom’s eNfusion SwiftBroadband technology for its MCS-7100 Series Multi-Channel Satellite Communications family of Satcom products, in a deal valued at $35 million over five years.

Jean Menard, EMS Satcom vice president of commercial sales, announced the contract at the NBAA convention in Orlando. Ottawa-based EMS Satcom will supply both SwiftBroadband hardware and software for the Honeywell Satcom terminals.

“The demand for in-flight high-speed Internet access has been building in recent years, and our relationship with Honeywell has matured in step,” Neil Mackay, senior vice president and general manager of EMS Satcom, said in a statement. “The agreement ... gives our aeronautical Satcom technology another avenue to penetrate the business and commercial airline markets." Visit

Warthog Upgrade Starts

The A/OA-10 Warthog is in the early stages of a five-year, $168 million upgrade effort, the largest ever for the fleet.

Under the “Precision Engagement” program awarded to Lockheed Martin, the A/OA-10 is being modified to employ the Joint Direct Attack Munition and the Wind Corrected Munitions Dispenser. The program is integrating advanced sensors, a data link and targeting pods onto the aircraft, which will boost pilot situational awareness, targeting capabilities, survivability and communication with other ground and air elements.

As part of the upgrade, the A/OA-10 fleet is receiving advanced integrated cockpit controls and displays, an improved pilot vehicle interface using two new multifunction color displays and a new central interface control unit with three computer processors to provide stores management and overall avionics systems integration.

The Air Force awarded the Precision Engagement development contract to Lockheed Martin in 2001. Lockheed Martin received the production contract in February 2005, and first production kits were delivered to Hill Air Force Base in March. Kit production will run to 2008 with kit installation scheduled to go to 2009.

To date, 21 aircraft have been modified at Ogden Air Logistics Center at Hill Air Force Base, Utah; 356 total aircraft are to receive the upgrades, constituting the entire fleet, including active duty, reserve and Air National Guard. Visit

Alliant Flight Deck

The team of Avidyne and S-TEC unveiled their Alliant Integrated Flight Deck for the Beechcraft King Air 200 twin turboprop.

Retailing at $170,107, Alliant is the first “large glass” integrated flight deck available for King Air installations, the companies say. The first completed King Air 200 installation was on static display at the NBAA convention in Orlando in mid-October, and supplemental type certification from FAA was anticipated. S-TEC, Mineral Wells, Tex., will hold the type certificate.

The flight deck includes dual-redundant Avidyne EXP5000 10.4-inch primary flight displays, an Avidyne EX500 multifunction display, the S-TEC Intelliflight 2100 digital autopilot and three Mid-Continent two-inch standby instruments.

“A lot of people would call this a King Air conversion. We would call it a King Air transformation,” Mark Sandeen, Avidyne vice president of sales and marketing, told reporters at NBAA.

Sandeen said the companies want to tap the general aviation aftermarket with the product, and the turboprop arena is an “obvious fit.” The King Air aftermarket, with 6,000 aircraft, is potentially huge.

Alliant is “a simple upgrade. There’s no need to remove everything in your panel,” Sandeen said. The system does not involve engine instrumentation, which would increase cost, he said. Visit,

Flexjet Satcom Order

Bombardier Flexjet selected the Rockwell Collins Tailwind 300 satellite television system and the SAT-6100 High Speed Data (HSD) Satellite Communication System for its fleet of new Challenger 604 and Challenger 605 aircraft. The systems will be installed over the next five years.

Rockwell Collins’ SAT-6100 HSD system uses Inmarsat’s AeroH/H+ and Swift 64 services to deliver three Aero-H/H+ channels, and two simultaneous channels of Swift 64 (128 kbs) for Internet, email, fax and digital phone capabilities. The system incorporates hardware provisions to support Inmarsat’s future SwiftBroadband service that will provide even higher data speed of up to 432 kbs. Visit

‘Network-Centric’ Pact

Northrop Grumman and the U.S. Air Force’s Electronic Systems Center signed a cooperative research and development agreement to collaborate on developing “network-centric” operations capabilities.

The two-year effort will focus on integrating information from multiple U.S. Department of Defense and other government agencies, and multi-national and industry partners to provide enhanced, networked Command, Control, Communications, Computers and Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (C4ISR). “Tying in modeling and simulation assets representing current and future ISR programs will also allow us to examine the performance of hardware and software components that will help us address network-centric operations issues,’’ Northrop Grumman said.

“Our partnership with the government on many of today’s flagship C4ISR systems such as Joint STARS, Global Hawk, Advanced Hawkeye and the E-10A provides the company with unique network-centric operations development and integration experience. Our goal is to accelerate potential network-centric operations capabilities that will provide increased situation awareness to all levels of command including the warfighter at the tactical edge.’’ Visit


CMC Electronics on Aug. 28 received FAA Technical Standard Order (TSO) authorization for its CMA-9000 Flight Management System. The CMA-9000 FMS has been selected by Pilatus for the PC-21 turboprop trainer aircraft and by Thales for their avionics suite on the Sukhoi SuperJet 100.

The single-unit CMA-9000 has civil certified multi-sensor navigator capabilities, including GPS, INS, DME and Embedded GPS/Inertial Navigation System (EGI). It conforms to the ARINC-739 multifunction control display unit standard, making it suitable as a display and control unit for other systems such as the Aircraft Communications Addressing and Reporting System (ACARS). Visit

Weather On Bizjets

Flight Display Systems, Alpharetta, Ga., introduced a new Moving Map feature that for the first time makes available live XM Satellite weather information to aircraft passengers.

The weather presentation includes NEXRAD weather conditions relative to the aircraft’s position and updated every five minutes. Live weather information is overlaid on topographical maps with city names and state borders. Weather is color-coded to indicate storm level severity.

“Our company is completely committed to moving maps in the corporate and business jet market. This new weather upgrade raises the bar for pertinent flight information in the cabin,” said David Gray, Flight Display Systems’ founder.

The weather upgrade is available from avionics dealers for $1,997, plus installation, Flight Display Systems said. An external antenna is required if XM is not already being used in the aircraft. Visit

Flight Bag STC

ABC Completions, of Montreal received supplemental type certification to install a CMC Electronics’ PilotView electronic flight bag (EFB) on a CL-604 Challenger bizjet. As part of the installation, ABC provided a custom-made telescopic articulating mount, which places the EFB in the optimum position for viewing and usage.

CMC Electronics’ PilotView EFB enables preflight planning and access to aircraft documentation, checklists and flight planning information. During flight, it provides en-route approach charts and a moving map display. Visit

GV Flies By Wire

A Gulfstream GV test aircraft in September completed its first flight equipped with fly-by-wire flight controls from Thales Aerospace.

Thales has partnered with Gulfstream Aerospace Corp. on Gulfstream’s Advanced Flight Controls research program to explore the potential application of electrical or fly by wire (FBW) flight control technology in its proof-of-concept research program.

Thales is supporting the GV test aircraft with a Thales flight control computer that interfaces with the cockpit, aircraft sensors and flight control electro-mechanical actuators through electrical commands.

The Thales flight control computer is based on a unique dual channel design featuring command/monitor architecture and packaged in a single box to ensure that the supplied system meets reduced parts count and the customer safety and reliability requirements at a minimum weight.

Gulfstream initiated the Advanced Flight Controls research program in 2004 to examine the feasibility of lighter and smaller electronically driven flight controls, focusing on the aircraft spoiler and elevator systems.

Gulfstream was to begin the second phase of flight testing in 2006 of electronically commanded elevators using an Electrical Backup Hydraulic Actuator (EBHA) system. Visit

F-16 Deploys Decoys

Raytheon said a series of ADM-160B Miniature Air Launched Decoy (MALD) vehicles demonstrated successful separation when launched from an Air Force F-16.

The flight tests took place at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., under a development contract managed by the 728th Armament Systems Group.

Nine free-flight launches took place from May to July during the Eglin 46th Test Wing sorties. Each sortie involved the launch of MALD vehicles at varying speeds, altitudes and F-16 pylon locations.

Three of the nine MALDs were equipped with specialized telemetry instrumentation to gather trajectory information, and all were photographed by chase aircraft with on-board cameras. The 120-inch MALD is a turbojet-powered, swing-wing missile that is launched from an Air Force F-16 Fighting Falcon or B-52 Stratofortress and flies a pre-programmed flight path into hostile air space to stimulate enemy air defenses. Visit

Transport Canada Update

The Transport Canada, Aircraft Services Directorate will upgrade its fleet of nine Citation II aircraft with Rockwell Collins Pro Line 21 Integrated Display System (IDS).

The Pro Line installation will be completed by Kitchener Aero Avionics of Toronto, Ontario. Supplemental type certification (STC) is expected by March 2007.

The Pro Line 21 IDS upgrade will feature three 8-inch by 10-inch liquid crystal displays, turbulence weather radar and Integrated Flight Information System (IFIS). Transport Canada will add the Rockwell Collins Flight Management System, the Pro Line 21 CNS radio suite, and Traffic Collision Avoidance System (TCAS) II. Visit

ABX Orders Standby System

L-3 Avionics Systems will supply its GH-3100 Electronic Standby Instrument System (ESIS) to ABX Air to support the ongoing upgrade of the cargo airline’s flat-panel display system on the Boeing 767-200SF fleet.

Initially, up to 12 aircraft will be upgraded within ABX’s fleet. L-3 Avionics Systems, Grand Rapids, Mich., said GH-3100 deliveries have begun and will continue through 2007.

The GH-3100 ESIS is designed to replace conventional electromechanical standby attitude, airspeed and altitude instruments, plus provide heading, slip/skid, navigation data and vertical speed in a single, 3-inch ATI flat-panel display. Visit

Enhanced Vision Partnership

Chelton Flight Systems will collaborate on a new series of products to combine Chelton’s Synthetic Vision Electronic Flight Instrument System (EFIS) and Kollsman’s General Aviation Vision System (GAViS T).

Chelton’s exclusive flight path marker, “Highway-in-the-Sky,” and advanced Head up (HUD) symbology overlaid on GAViS real time images of an IFR approach will make landings in darkness and low visibility easier and safer.

“We designed the Chelton EFIS to combine all instruments in one scan, and make it safer for a pilot to make rapid, informed decisions under difficult flight conditions,” said Gordon Pratt, Chelton Flight Systems president. “The integration of an actual forward-looking infrared camera, such as Kollsman’s GAViS, will blend in the real world and enhance the image.”

Chelton Flight Systems will take the lead in certifying the collaborative products, while Kollsman will provide certifiable product and certification support.Visit,

Airborne Warning System

The Israel Air Force in September accepted a Gulfstream G550 aircraft, which was turned over to Israel Aircraft Industries’ ELTA Systems for the installation of a new generation Conformal Airborne Early Warning (CAEW) system.

ELTA is the prime contractor, system developer and system integrator on this program for the Israel Air Force. The CAEW system will be used for intelligence gathering and air combat command and control missions.〈=EN.

Laser Flight Tests

Boeing began flight testing for the Advanced Tactical Laser (ATL) advanced concept technology demonstration program.

During the “low-power” flight tests, which began Oct. 10, the ATL ACTD system was to find and track ground targets at White Sands Missile Range, N.M. A low-power, solid-state laser served as a surrogate for ATL’s high-power chemical laser. The ATL aircraft, a C-130H from the U.S. Air Force 46th Test Wing, was outfitted with flight demonstration hardware at Crestview Aerospace Corp. Boeing fired the high-energy chemical laser for the first time Sept. 21 in ground tests in Albuquerque, N.M., an achievement known as “first light.”

By 2007, Boeing will install the device on the aircraft and fire it in-flight at ground targets. The test team will fire the laser through a rotating turret that extends through an existing 50-inch-diameter hole in the aircraft’s belly. Visit


An article in the October 2006 issue, “Satcom: Broadband in the Cabin,” inadvertently omitted reference to TECOM Industries, Thousand Oaks, Calif. TECOM and Rockwell Collins have entered into a long-term purchase agreement for TECOM’s HGA-2100 antenna to meet the Boeing 787 Satcom high-gain antenna requirement. Visit

Receive the latest avionics news right to your inbox