Systems Development Improved On Tranche 2 Typhoon

Improved systems development tools and processes have helped shorten the development lifecycle of the Tranche 2 Eurofighter Typhoon, which is scheduled for deliveries to partner nations beginning this summer.

"We flew the first Tranche 2 aircraft last Nov. 1," recalled Mark Salvin, head of avionics systems engineering with the Eurofighter GmbH consortium. "We’re going to deliver it into production in June. So it’s taken us seven or eight months to mature that system through flight tests, because when it went onto the aircraft, we [had] resolved most of the issues. With the Tranche 1, it took us five or six years to get through that phase."

Salvin, who has headed the Eurofighter avionics engineering effort since 2005, spoke March 6 at Avionics Expo 2008 in Amsterdam, an event co-sponsored by Avionics magazine. He described a mature, multi-national fighter program that has improved in terms of organizational efficiency and its approach to developing and integrating complex embedded systems.

"Up until 2005, the management agency was predominantly a customer-fronting organization. It didn’t really proactively manage the delivery and the development of the program," Salvin said.

"We made a big change. Basically, Eurofighter took responsibility for the program. It didn’t take full responsibility for all the budget, but in terms of program delivery, Eurofighter now actively manages it, and we’ve seen a significant turnaround in the last three years in the performance of the business and the organization and the program as a whole."

Eurofighter in late March announced handover of the final Tranche 1 Typhoon, a twin-seat version for the German Air Force. With that, 144 series production Typhoons had been delivered to partner nations Germany, Italy, Spain and the United Kingdom, plus five to Austria, the first export customer. The consortium said 38 upgraded Tranche 2 aircraft were in final assembly, the first of 236 aircraft to be delivered through 2013. The conclusion of a Tranche 3 contract calling for another 236 aircraft was anticipated for later this year.

Mission computers on Tranche 1 Typhoons are based on Motorola 68000-series processors. For the Tranche 2 upgrade, application software is rehosted on Power PC processors, providing substantially increased processing capacity for planned enhancements. These include integration of Raytheon Paveway and EGBU-16 Enhanced Paveway laser-guided bombs, a new laser designator pod and upgraded Link 16 digital data link. With new bombs, the Typhoon offers "swing role" capability for both air-to-air and air-to-surface combat. The Tranche 2 system architecture also uses common processor and databus modules across mission computers.

"What we’ve built into the Tranche 2 aircraft (is) increased processing capacity, increased bus capacity, to accept new requirements," Salvin said."… We have a full swing-role capability. [New weapons] are being developed and coded up now, and will be delivered in the near future to the customer."

Avionics Team

Avionics subsystem design is divided among the four partner companies, known collectively as the "Avionics Joint Team" — BAE Systems of the U.K. is responsible for defensive aids, displays and controls, integrated monitoring and recording, and systems integration; Alenia Aeronautica of Italy for navigation and armament control; EADS-Germany for attack and identification; and EADS-CASA of Spain for communications.

Managing a large, complex program across companies and nations has presented challenges. "The system design is passed down to software engineers and equipment engineers who go away, produce the software design, write the code, (and) procure the equipment, but we don’t actually know that what comes back together is going to work," Salvin explained. "When we get into subsystem tests, we find the design was wrong, we find that people have made basic coding errors, or the equipment suppliers have misinterpreted requirements. We invariably go into quite lengthy fix cycles… before we get to the point where we have what we call an avionics clearance, which is a signed-off system to fly."

Over the years, Eurofighter has optimized the development process and changed toolsets, yielding "probably the best, most effective development process in use in the military world," Salvin declared. He described time and cost savings associated with using "Statemate," a graphical design, simulation and prototyping tool for embedded systems originally developed by AdCad/I-Logix, of Andover, Mass. I-Logix was acquired in 2006 by Telelogic, which recently was acquired by IBM.

"We’ve had to tackle [design problems] in several ways," Salvin said. "At the front end of the design, we’ve moved away from the old CORE (Controlled Requirements Expression) system design toolset to Statemate, allowing visualization of the design. It’s very costly and resource-intensive, so we have to be selective over which areas of the design [to address]. We flush out the design problems before we get down to the rigs and the aircraft. Similarly, when we get through the subsystem and the software design and code phases, traditionally we used to do our software testing on a software bench and the rig testing on a rig bench. Now, we do most of our software (testing) using what we call ‘virtual rigs,’ where we actually host full cockpit simulations by engineers’ desks, so they can hook up the software they’re writing to that visualization of the cockpit and actually run the software and determine whether or not there are any problems with it. With this approach, we now do most of our debugging in the office." — Bill Carey



Lockheed Martin announced March 29 its selection for the system development and demonstration (SDD) phase of the Airborne and Maritime/Fixed Station Joint Tactical Radio Systems (AMF JTRS) program, a contract valued at $766 million.

AMF JTRS will provide interoperable and secure data, voice and video communications for more than 160 platform types, including fixed- and rotary-wing aircraft, submarines, surface ships and fixed stations worldwide.

Lockheed Martin was awarded the SDD prime contract over a Boeing-led team. The contract was awarded by the Electronic Systems Command at Hanscom Air Force Base, Mass., for the Joint Program Executive Office, Joint Tactical Radio System (JPEO JTRS).

The SDD phase consists of critical design, prototype and engineering development model fabrication, initial testing and certification, and options for low-rate initial production. Lockheed Martin will be responsible for qualifying a minimum of two sources for each form factor to ensure compliance with the program, according to the JPEO JTRS.

"Lockheed Martin is honored and excited to provide affordable, open, network-enabled, communications out to the tactical edge," said John Mengucci, president of Mission and Combat Support Solutions for Lockheed Martin Information Systems & Global Services. "AMF JTRS extends net-centric warfare beyond the command center so this system is crucial to support information sharing and combat readiness, a must for today’s warfighters."

The Lockheed Martin team includes BAE Systems, General Dynamics, Northrop Grumman and Raytheon. Work will be conducted in Scottsdale, Ariz.; San Diego, Calif.; Tampa, Fla.; Fort Wayne, Ind.; Gaithersburg, Md.; St. Paul, Minn.; Wayne, N.J.; Charleston, S.C.; and Chantilly and Reston, Va.

Global Hawk Record

Northrop Grumman said its RQ-4 Global Hawk set an endurance record for a full-scale, operational unmanned aircraft March 22, completing a 33.1-hour flight at altitudes up to 60,000 feet over Edwards Air Force Base, Calif.

The first Global Hawk Block 20 surpassed both the official and unofficial world un-refueled endurance records for operational unmanned airplanes previously held by the Block 10 variant, Northrop Grumman said.

"The Global Hawk has been performing beyond our expectations," said Bryan Lima, Northrop Grumman Global Hawk chief engineer. "This was the longest mission ever flown by a HALE (high-altitude long-endurance) or MALE (medium-altitude long-endurance) aircraft."

As of March, three Global Hawks were deployed in war zones, logging more than 15,700 combat hours with more than 21,000 total program flight hours, Northrop Grumman said.

"This is a critical data point in supporting upcoming production decisions," said Col. Chris Coombs, acting Global Hawk program director for the 303rd Aeronautical Systems Group at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio. "Even after 10 years of flight, the Global Hawk continues to amaze us."

‘NanoSAR’ Flies

Boeing, in partnership with ImSAR, of Salem, Utah, and Insitu Inc., Bingen, Wash., flight tested "NanoSAR," described as the world’s smallest synthetic aperture radar (SAR), aboard the ScanEagle UAV on Jan. 7 in Boardman, Ore.

During the flight test, the aircraft, with ImSAR’s NanoSAR payload, completed several passes over the target area at various altitudes and ranges. The data collection worked as planned, Boeing said, and SAR imagery was later created on the ground.

The NanoSAR system, weighing two pounds and about the size of a shoebox, has a range of 1 kilometer, according to ImSAR. Most SARs weigh between 50 and 200 pounds, making them too large for most UAVs, the company said.

"The NanoSAR technology’s ability to see in hazy, cloudy, rainy or foggy conditions is ideally suited for the maritime environment," said Carol Wilke, ScanEagle chief engineer for Boeing. "Combined with ScanEagle’s long-endurance capability, NanoSAR offers a cost-effective solution for customers’ surveillance requirements."

Skylarks To France

Elbit Systems, Haifa, Israel, will supply hand-launched Skylark UAVs to France’s Special Forces, marking Elbit’s first UAV contract with France. The company said March 24 it won a tender involving 10 UAV manufacturers.

The Skylark is designed for day and night observation and data collection "beyond the hill" up to distances of 10 km. The system can be launched by soldiers after a brief training period.

During the recent war in Lebanon, Skylark UAVs were used by the Israel Defense Forces to fly combat sorties and supply intelligence data to the ground forces. The systems are currently deployed by several countries as part of the coalition forces in Afghanistan and Iraq, Elbit said.

Integrator Flight Test

The Integrator unmanned aircraft manufactured by Insitu Inc., Bingen, Wash., completed a flight test using a new software and avionics architecture, Insitu said in March.

Athena Technologies, Warrenton, Va., provided a customized autopilot for the flight test. The flight included a take-off using Insitu’s launcher; flight control checks and practice approaches; and a high-precision, GPS-based final approach and wing-tip capture by Insitu’s Skyhook recovery system.

"In order to offer our customers the highest level of payload flexibility and expanded communication links while providing increased system performance and accuracy for this platform, we elected to develop a new software and avionics system design. The key considerations of this design were to address industry standards to support the long-term system evolution and reliability of Integrator," said Gary Viviani, Insitu vice president of software.

The Integrator contains a proprietary multi-function EO/IR turret with a cryogenically cooled night sensor, EO day sensor, laser range finder, IR marker and optional target designator. The aircraft’s baseline configuration provides 24 hours of endurance with 500 watts of power available up to a payload of 25 pounds.

Fire Scout Radar

Northrop Grumman said it will incorporate radar on the MQ-8B Fire Scout Vertical Takeoff and Landing Tactical Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (VTUAV).

The company first demonstrated radar capability on the RQ-8A Fire Scout in 2003 using a General Atomics’ Lynx system. That demonstration carried both radar and an electro-optical/infrared system.

The same demonstration will take place on the MQ-8B Fire Scout this year on a company-owned air vehicle using a non-developmental Telephonics RDR-1700B maritime surveillance and imaging radar. The purpose of the demonstration is to show enhanced Fire Scout operational utility while confirming the assessment of a need for radar.

"Radar will also maximize the use of the Fire Scout’s Modular Payload Architecture that allows true ‘plug-and-play’ capability," said Doug Fronius, program director for the Northrop Grumman Integrated System Fire Scout VTUAV program.

Radar integration and installation will take place at Northrop Grumman facilities in San Diego and Moss Point, Miss. Demonstration flights will be conducted at Webster Field, Inigoes, Md., Naval Air Station Patuxent River, Md., or Yuma Proving Ground, Ariz.

Tanker Protest

Boeing said March 11 it filed a formal protest with the Government Accountability Office (GAO), seeking a review the decision by the U.S. Air Force to award the contract for its KC-X tanker competition to the team of Northrop Grumman and European Aeronautic Defence and Space Company (EADS).

"Our analysis of the data presented by the Air Force shows that this competition was seriously flawed and resulted in the selection of the wrong airplane for the warfighter," said Mark McGraw, vice president and program manager, Boeing Tanker Programs.

"We have fundamental concerns with the Air Force’s evaluation, and we are exercising our right under the process for a GAO review of the decision to ensure that the process by which America’s next refueling tanker is selected is fair and results in the best choice for the U.S. warfighters and taxpayers."

The Air Force on Feb. 29 announced its selection of the Northrop Grumman/EADS KC-45 refueling tanker for the $35 billion-plus KC-X requirement, an airframe based on the Airbus A330. The surprise decision evoked a storm of protest from congressional and other supporters of Boeing, which offered the smaller KC-767.

"It is clear that the original mission for these tankers — that is, a medium-sized tanker where cargo and passenger transport was a secondary consideration — became lost in the process, and the Air Force ended up with an oversized tanker," said McGraw.

"As the requirements were changed to accommodate the bigger, less capable Airbus plane, evaluators arbitrarily discounted the significant strengths of the KC-767, compromising on operational capabilities, including the ability to refuel a more versatile array of aircraft such as the V-22 and even the survivability of the tanker during the most dangerous missions it will encounter."

Globemaster GPS

Boeing Integrated Defense Systems awarded GPS Source, Pueblo West, Colo., a multimillion-dollar contract to develop GPS Retransmission equipment for the U.S. Air Force C-17 Globemaster III transport.

The system will provide GPS signal availability throughout the cargo hold, providing real-time data for payload guidance receivers. The aircraft loadmaster will have the ability to verify payload receiver operation prior to release and enable the receivers to provide steering commands upon the pallet’s exit from the aircraft, Boeing said.

The equipment combines the U.S. Army’s Precision and Extended Glide Airdrop System with the Air Force’s Precision Airdrop System to allow conventional military aircraft to drop supplies on the battlefield while minimizing risk to the aircraft.


Maintenance Maelstrom

Major air carriers in the United States canceled hundreds of flights in March to reinspect aircraft after FAA launched an industry-wide safety audit. The audit followed revelations that Southwest Airlines had missed inspecting its Boeing 737s in 2006-2007 for fuselage fatigue cracking. FAA on March 6 proposed a $10.2 million civil penalty against the airline for operating 46 aircraft past the mandatory inspection date. Six of the planes were later found to have fatigue cracking

As widespread inspections called into question the overall safety of the U.S. airline industry, FAA was accused of being too cozy with the airlines. Veteran FAA inspectors, testifying April 3 before the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, said senior managers in FAA’s Irving, Texas, regional office overseeing Southwest Airlines had blocked investigations of the airline’s safety compliance and threatened their jobs.

FAA’s allegedly lax oversight of Southwest Airlines was "clearly not an isolated aberration," charged Rep. James Oberstar, D-Minn, the committee chairman. "It’s a systematic breakdown of the safety oversight role of the FAA. It is misfeasance and malfeasance bordering on corruption."

In written testimony to the committee, Nicholas A. Sabatini, FAA associate administrator for regulation and certification, acknowledged a "completely unacceptable situation" involving oversight of Southwest by the agency’s then-principal maintenance inspector for the airline, who was reassigned.

"I am here today to apologize to the committee and, more importantly, to the traveling public for FAA’s failures in this situation," Sabatini said. "We have taken this situation extremely seriously and have done a great deal of soul searching and analysis to determine how the problems developed, how FAA could have prevented them and, most crucial at this point, how we proceed from here."

Among other air carriers, American Airlines and Delta Air Lines canceled flights in late March as they pulled Boeing MD-80s and MD-88s from service to check the spacing of attachments securing wire bundles.

In another development, United Airlines grounded its fleet of 52 Boeing 777s in early April to check the fire-suppression system in the aircraft’s cargo hold. Earlier, United had retested altitude indicators on seven of its Boeing 747s after determining that test equipment at a maintenance facility in South Korea needed to be checked for calibration.

Releasing the findings of its safety audit April 2, FAA reported "99-percent airline compliance" with Airworthiness Directives. "We are currently experiencing the safest period in aviation history," said Acting Administrator Robert A. "Bobby" Sturgell. "That’s not chance. It’s not a miracle. It’s the result of an entire industry making safety its driving focus."

A350XWB Contracts

Honeywell in mid-March announced its selection by Airbus to provide the flight management system and integrated Aircraft Environment Surveillance System (AESS) for the new A350XWB widebody. The contract is expected to generate more than $1.5 billion over the life of the A350 program, Honeywell said.

Honeywell’s AESS combines Traffic Alert Collision Avoidance System (TCAS), Mode S transponders, Enhanced Ground Proximity Warning System (EGPWS) and advanced RDR-4000 weather radar in a single unit.

With the contract award, Honeywell joined Thales and Rockwell Collins as major avionics suppliers on the A350XWB. Thales is providing the Integrated Modular Avionics suite, Interactive Control and Display systems and Air Data Inertial Reference Unit. Rockwell Collins is providing the Trimmable Horizontal Stabilizer Actuator, AFDX switches, multimode receiver and digital radar altimeter.

Last September, Airbus selected Honeywell to provide the HGT1700 auxiliary power unit (APU), an APU installation kit and APU starter-generator for the A350XWB.

In addition, Honeywell will provide an air management system for cabin heating, cooling and pressurization — equipment valued at $16.5 billion over the life of the aircraft.

"Honeywell’s five-decade-long commitment to aviation safety and flight management innovation are reflected in the products chosen by Airbus for their new A350XWB," Garrett Mikita, president of Honeywell’s Air Transport and Regional Business, said of the latest award.

"The AESS and FMS for the A350XWB reflect a new supplier relationship with Airbus similar to the approach that is already in place on the A350XWB mechanical systems. We will deliver mature systems ready for aircraft installation, not just components or parts. This relationship will help Airbus manage its costs as it brings this new aircraft to market."

Also, in March, Paris-based Saft said it will provide lithium-ion battery systems for the starting and emergency power supply on the A350XWB.

The contract is expected to generate 200 million Euros in sales over 25 years.

The battery system includes an integrated monitoring and charging system using Saft’s proprietary electrochemistry algorithms.

"Saft is extremely pleased to be selected for this prestigious program," said John Searle, Saft Groupe’s CEO. "We are very happy to continue working closely with Airbus for their high technology battery requirements."

EFB Moving Map

Jeppesen, Englewood, Colo., was granted the first FAA Technical Standard Order (TSO) approval for a moving map system on a Class 2 Electronic Flight Bag (EFB).

Jeppesen’s software, which uses a database to construct maps of airport surfaces, can display "own-ship" position on the airport surface. An April 2007 FAA ruling allows for moving map applications including own-ship position on Class 2 EFBs.

Jeppesen, a Boeing subsidiary, said the moving map application has been in use on Boeing’s Class 3 EFBs for nearly five years. The new TSO will allow it be deployed on a greater number of aircraft.

"We have a passionate belief that Airport Moving Map is a critical element in improving aviation safety and reducing runway incursions," said Rick Ellerbrock, Jeppesen enterprise solutions strategist. "Our research proved this and now the door is open for airlines to begin widespread adoption of Airport Moving Map on both Class 2 and 3 EFBs."

The application will be included on Class 2 EFBs manufactured by navAero, Chicago, to be installed on Continental Airlines’ fleet of 757 and 767 aircraft.

Jeppesen said it planned to deliver the TSO-approved software in March to begin the integration, which was expected to take two months, leading to a May or June date for the first in-service use of Airport Moving Map on a Class 2 EFB, the company said.

ADS-B Comments

The comment period for FAA’s Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) setting out performance requirements for Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast (ADS-B) ended March 4. The responses indicate that aviation industry stakeholders support the surveillance technology in general, but have reservations about the rule as proposed.

FAA issued the NPRM in October and extended the comment period once. The 100-page rule proposed that only ADS-B "Out" broadcast capability be required, and deferred any mandate for ADS-B "In" equipage.

The agency has proposed a compliance date of 2020.

More than 250 comments were filed from entities including major airlines, airframers, industry associations, avionics manufacturers and individuals. Filers expressed concerns about the rule’s scope, international harmonization efforts, costs, implementation timeline and equipage. Other concerns included equipment availability and training of pilots and air-traffic controllers in the various new systems required.

Cargo carrier FedEx expressed concerns about the scope of the proposal and questioned whether the implementation of ADS-B "Out," separate from ADS-B "In" will make a difference.

"With regard to ADS-B Out, FedEx has a basic understanding of how this technology will improve overall surveillance, but is concerned that the basic ADS-B Out technology will not improve the efficiency of the ATC system that is being encountered in certain airspace corridors today," FedEx said, according to published comments.

The International Air Transportation Association (IATA) said the proposed ADS-B Out performance requirements appear to be based on anticipated ADS-B In applications, which will involve equipping aircraft to display nearby traffic.

"[F]or pre-2020 applications of ADS-B Out radar-like services, the resulting NPRM has significant cost impact on air transport aircraft with existing ADS-B Mode-S ES equipage and will result in airline decisions to delay any avionic updates until there is a single defined ADS-B package," IATA wrote.

ACSS, the Thales and L-3 Communications joint venture behind the "SafeRoute" ADS-B system used by UPS, advised FAA "to review the proposed timeline for mandatory equipage and consider how to minimize the time to complete equipage." ACSS and other filers also recommended that FAA adopt financial and operational incentives to prompt aircraft operators to equip their aircraft.

The Air Transport Association of America (ATA), representing the airline industry, said the proposed rule is too expensive and does not achieve stakeholder benefits.

"The FAA proposal calls for a Porsche when a Chevy can do the job," said ATA President and CEO James C. May. "The industry needs a test vehicle, not a race-ready one, and the current proposal adds unnecessary cost and complexity."

The Aviation Electronics Association (AEA), representing general aviation interests, said FAA’s "partial proposal" does not include the total cost of next-generation air traffic management requirements.

"AEA does not support this proposed regulation. The FAA has failed to offer a proposal that is cost effective, safety enhancing or a complete proposal. In addition, contrary to public law, the FAA is proposing a performance standard in this NPRM that is not available for the public to review," according to the comments written by Richard A. Peri, AEA’s vice president of government and industry affairs.

With a $1.86 billion contract, including options, awarded for the ADS-B ground infrastructure last August, FAA is moving forward with ADS-B implementation. The agency announced in February that ADS-B will be activated in the Gulf of Mexico by the end of 2009. — Emily Feliz

NATCA And NextGen

National Air Traffic Controllers Association (NATCA) President Patrick Forrey used a speech before the Aero Club of Washington to rebuke FAA’s handling of the controller workforce and its multi-billion Next Generation Air Transportation System (NextGen) program.

"We are rapidly losing too many of the most experienced controllers, along with too many of our brightest, newest young trainees," Forrey said. "America’s air-traffic controllers have an ongoing contract dispute with the FAA. We need this war to end."

According to Forrey, the total number of fully certified controllers has fallen to a 15-year low.

Nationwide, more than 2,200 controllers and trainees left their jobs between Oct. 1, 2006 and Jan. 5, 2008. FAA had hoped to handle the high rate of attrition by replacing those who leave with new hires. However, it has proven impossible to hire and train new controllers quickly enough to handle the outflow, Forrey said.

In addition, Forrey said he is troubled by FAA’s first steps in a 20-year plan to transform the air-traffic control system from a radar to a satellite-based system.

"While NATCA is on record as endorsing any technological advance to improve air-traffic control operations, NextGen, as presently conceived, cannot," Forrey said.

"There is little doubt that the FAA is embarking on a risky journey with an unproven vehicle. We believe that Congress should call for an immediate, comprehensive evaluation of NextGen, before additional funds to implement it are expended… It is important to note that while the technology portion of our system is getting all the attention, the human part of the system is crumbling."

Ametek Acquisitions

Ametek, Paoli, Pa., in March announced two acquisitions.

The company said it would pay an undisclosed sum for Motion Control Group (MCG) of Minneapolis, a manufacturer of motors and motion control solutions for the medical, life sciences, industrial automation, semiconductor and aviation markets. MCG has annual sales of about $26 million.

MCG will become part of Ametek’s Technical Industrial Products unit, which produces DC motors, brushless DC motors, motor controllers, blowers, fans and pumps.

Ametek also announced plans to buy Drake Air, Tulsa, Okla., a provider of heat-transfer repair services to the commercial aerospace industry. Drake Air will become a unit of Ametek Aerospace & Defense.


Gulfstream G650

Gulfstream Aerospace, Savannah, Ga., on March 13 unveiled its next-generation G650 business jet, promising an ultra-large cabin, ultra-long range, fast speeds and an advanced cockpit.

Powered by Rolls-Royce BR725 turbofans, the eight-passenger G650 will be capable of flying 7,000 nautical miles at Mach 0.85 or 5,000 nm at Mach 0.90. Its maximum cruise altitude will be 51,000 feet.

Gulfstream also named a number of suppliers for the new jet, which is expected to make its first flight in 2009 and be delivered to customers in 2012.

The regional and business aircraft unit of France’s Thales will provide flight control computers for the G650’s fly-by-wire (FBW) flight control system, the second business jet application of a FBW system after the Dassault Falcon 7X.

Honeywell was awarded a contract valued at $3 billion to provide a range of avionics, including the first business jet application of its Next Generation Flight Management System, previously announced for the Boeing 747-8, and RDR-4000 turbulence-detecting weather radar, in service on the Airbus A380 and U.S. Air Force C-17.

Other Honeywell products on the G650 will be the company’s Enhanced Ground Proximity Warning System, Synthetic Vision-Primary Flight Display (SV-PFD), Runway Awareness and Advisory System, dual five-inch LCD Standby Multifunction Controllers, triple Laseref VI Inertial Reference Systems and MCS-7120 Satellite Communication System.

The G650’s "Planeview II" cockpit, based on Honeywell’s Primus Epic suite, includes four 14-inch LCD cockpit displays, proprietary Interactive Navigation (INAV) display tool, Engine Indication and Crew Alert System, dual Automatic Flight Control System with Flight Director functions, dual auto throttle, dual radio system with a third Nav/Comm, communication management function and central maintenance computer.

There will be three standard "PlaneBook" electronic document managers, hosted on Windows-based Fujitsu FG-1610G tablet computers. Gulfstream developed PlaneBook in collaboration with electronic flight bag provider Advanced Data Research, of Rochester Hills, Mich.

Rockwell Collins will supply the aircraft’s pilot controls, Horizontal Stabilizer Trim System and Head Up Guidance system. The HUD II will feature the company’s HGS-6250 LCD.

The Kollsman EVS II Enhanced Vision System, Honeywell’s SV-PFD and Rockwell Collins’ HUD II will be standard systems on the aircraft, Gulfstream said.

Goodrich Corp. is providing the main and nose landing gear, flight deck observer seats and Full Authority Digital Engine Control system, including an electronic engine control, fuel metering unit, fuel pump and engine actuation for the engines.

The G650 will make use of Gulfstream’s "PlaneConnect" program, a maintenance link that automatically transmits aircraft maintenance information to the customer’s operations department with an optional copy to Gulfstream Technical Operations.


Gulfstream Aerospace in March said it demonstrated flight control using fiber-optic Fly-By-Light (FBL) technology on a GV test aircraft, the first time the technology was tested on a primary flight control surface of one of its business aircraft.

During a nearly 75-minute flight originating from Savannah, Ga., a fiber-optic harness transferred pilot-control input from a flight control computer to spoilers on the aircraft’s wing.

The harness, which carries flight-control signals on optical fiber, performs an electrical-optical conversion at each avionics system endpoint, combining multiple signals onto a common optical backbone that spans the aircraft, Gulfstream said.

The electro-optical conversion uses inline signal concentrators from Defense Photonics Group, of South Plainfield, N.J. Each concentrator can condense thousands of dual-path electrical signals into a single optical bus, Gulfstream said.

Ellipse TV

Flight Display Systems, Alpharetta, Ga., and partner companies received FAA Supplemental Type Certification (STC) for "Ellipse TV," a low-cost airborne satellite television system.

Flight Display Systems designed the system, The Maintenance Group, of Atlanta, engineered and performance-tested it, and KVH Industries, Middletown, R.I, manufactured the dorsal-mounted, mechanically steered, elliptical antenna. The list price of system hardware is $99,650.

The system initially was approved for the Bombardier Challenger 600. An STC amendment was pending for the Challenger 601 through 605 series.

"The STC award has been a highly anticipated milestone, not only for Flight Display Systems and The Maintenance Group, but for numerous potential customers who have shown great interest in this product," said David Gray, Flight Display Systems president.

"Since we first introduced the concept, we have had nothing but positive response from the industry," Gray added. "Aircraft owners and operators who have been reticent to purchase an in-flight TV system because of either cost or airframe application restrictions, now have available an affordable, low-cost product that brings high quality, real-time satellite TV reception into the cabin."

Under an agreement with The Maintenance Group, Flight Display Systems will have Parts Manufacturing Authority (PMA) to manufacture the antennas for the STC installation kit.

Iridium Integration

International Communications Group (ICG), Newport News, Va., completed the integration of Iridium satellite communications with the Universal Avionics UniLink UL-70x Communications Management Unit (CMU).

The integration allows pilots of business aircraft to use the Iridium network for two-way data link communications for graphical and text-based cockpit services, including graphical weather, text messaging, position reporting or ACARS-related messaging.

ICG also announced that its ICS-400 Iridium Communications System was selected as standard equipment on the Embraer Lineage 1000 ultra-large business jet.

The ICS-400 combines four Iridium transceivers in one line replaceable unit (LRU) and provides ARINC 429 connections and dedicated Short Burst Data (SBD) modem for ACARS or Airborne Flight Information System (AFIS) services.

EFD1000 Installation

Gulf Coast Avionics, Lakeland, Fla., said it completed the first dealer installation of an Aspen Avionics EFD1000 Pro panel-mounted glass cockpit primary flight display.

The installation, the first Authorized Aspen Avionics Dealer installation completed outside Aspen’s company-owned aircraft and initial OEM applications, was made in a Piper Seneca II, owned by Rick Garcia, Gulf Coast Avionics president.

Aspen Avionics, Albuquerque, N.M., was granted FAA Technical Standard Order (TSO) approval in March for the EFD1000 primary flight display system. Aspen began shipping the system at the end of March.

"This product brings to the general aviation pilot the glass display technology that has traditionally been available only in business and commercial aircraft," Garcia said.

AWOS Award

All Weather, Inc., Sacramento, Calif., was selected by ITT Corp. to supply 62 Automated Weather Observing Systems (AWOS) as part of ITT’s Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast contract with FAA ( Avionics, November 2007, p. 28). All Weather’s participation is valued at $45.5 million.

All Weather will provide turnkey installation of 37 FAA-certified AWOS systems to be located on oil platforms in the Gulf of Mexico and an additional 25 AWOS systems to be located in Alaska. The effort includes site surveys, engineering, production and installation over the next three years, and systems maintenance for 15 years.

Virtual Reality Illuminates Gulfstream Cockpit

Flying into the low evening sun, the Mid-Atlantic haze was thick enough to hide the Appalachian Mountains 16,000 feet below the Gulfstream G450.

But thanks to Honeywell’s Integrated Primary Flight Display (IPFD) synthetic vision system (SVS), the terrain was clearly visible in color 3-D imagery generated behind the flight information usually provided on Gulfstream’s Head-Up Display. To make the system easier to use, Honeywell has moved HUD symbology and cues to the heads-down IPFD.

The IPFD imagery is derived from the terrain data stored in Honeywell’s Enhanced Ground Proximity Warning System (EGPWS) database — a system that is credited with 30 controlled flight into terrain (CFIT) saves. The first application of the IFPD is Gulfstream’s Synthetic Vision-Primary Flight Display (SV-PFD).

In January, Gulfstream announced FAA certification of both the SV-PFD and Enhanced Vision System II on G350, G450, G500 and G550 business jets.

Honeywell has conducted demonstration flights of the IPFD for the aviation press in the company-owned G450, and in March hosted this reporter and others on a flight from Washington Dulles International Airport (IAD) to Roanoke, Va., Regional Airport (ROA) and back.

The sun set and visibility improved, showing the stunning correlation between the virtual reality inside the cockpit and the real thing, including towers, outside the windows in the mountains around Roanoke. On the RNAV approach to Runway 24 at ROA, the airport came into view on the flight display before it did outside. Within 15 miles of the runway, the system lays down a row of "breadcrumbs" leading right to the centerline. As we got closer to the airport, the system highlighted the runway of intended landing, as programmed into the flight management system.

Unless both pilots are asleep, dead or leave the cockpit at the same time, there is no way to become a CFIT statistic with this equipment or land it anywhere but on the correct runway. — Ron Laurenzo

Receive the latest avionics news right to your inbox