[Avionics Today 08-09-2016] Garmin has introduced its new Flight Stream 510 MultiMedia Card (MMC) technology. Flight Stream 510 is Garmin's first internally manufactured avionics MMC, and packs some potentially game-changing technology into one Secure Digital (SD)-sized card.
Garmin's Flight Stream 510 Multi Media Card (MMC). Photo: Garmin.
To enable the capabilities of the new MMC, General Aviation (GA) operators need to have aircraft already equipped with the Garmin GTN 650/750 touchscreen navigators, and, for even more capability, the G500/G600 glass flight displays. The concept behind the MMC is that it can provide wireless connectivity between the mobile Garmin Pilot app and GTN 650/750 touchscreen navigators without requiring any additional remote units, wiring or antennas for enablement.
Additionally, Flight Stream 510 gives operators the ability to wirelessly update the aircraft's numerous databases, and can also facilitate the exchange of flight information to and from the Garmin Pilot app and the panel-mount avionics.
"This really is an industry first,” Bill Stone, senior business development director at Garmin told Avionics Magazine. “It is our first MMC card that we produced ourselves and there’s nothing really exactly like it on the market now. There have been some wireless gateways that have been introduced to the market but those are additional pieces of hardware that have to be installed in the aircraft.”
Aircraft do not need Wi-Fi or even access to a Wi-Fi source to facilitate the type of database updates enabled by the Flight Stream 510, because Garmin has built Wi-Fi and Bluetooth functionality into the card. As long as the aircraft has a Flight Stream 510 card and the latest GTN software update, which the company expects to release this month, the aircraft has access to the full range of Flight Stream 510 wireless database transfer and flight plan transfer capabilities.
Pilots flying aircraft with the Flight Stream 510 card can use a tablet or smartphone to download new databases at Fixed-Based Operator (FBO) or other Wi-Fi access points. Then, they can carry the new database to the aircraft and connect their Android or Apple device to the Flight Stream 510 Wi-Fi where it can then be uploaded for operational use. Databases that can be wirelessly transferred include Garmin’s new navigation database, or the Jeppesen navigation database.
The GTN 650 and 750 have numerous databases as well, including a base map that gives mapping information of geopolitical boundaries, railroads, lakes, rivers and highways. There is also a terrain database, which gives relative height of terrain and that can also be used if the aircraft has a Terrain Awareness and Warning System (TAWS) installed. There are also airport charts and instrument approach plates, which are considered to be databases as well.
A pilot using Flight Stream 510 in the cockpit. Photo: Garmin.
“One of the challenges that has existed for a long time is management of those databases. They are updated periodically, typically every 28 days, and they share logistics of removing the card from the piece of equipment. Whether its ours or somebody else’s, it’s the same challenge: getting it to a [Personal Computer] PC with internet connection to download the fresh databases and then to get that card back into the aircraft to actually update the databases in the equipment. That’s the logistical problem that we were looking to solve. With the Flight Stream 510 and compatible app on your phone or tablet, the workflow changes significantly," said Stone.
The use of a single Flight Stream 510 card also enables text messaging and voice control when synced with Garmin's GSR 56 satellite communications system. There is also compatibility with the GDL69 Sirius XM data link system for displaying weather directly on a tablet or mobile device. Garmin has also positioned Flight Stream 510 as a wireless link between the GDL 88 dual link Universal Access Transceiver (UAT) and handheld Apple and Android devices.
"GDL 88 receives [Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast] ADS-B traffic and weather from the ground stations and can supply that to the GTN 650/750. The 88 has no wireless capability so since it is already supplying that data to the 650/750 with the Flight Stream 510, it can then wirelessly forward that ADS-B traffic information over Bluetooth to an Apple or Android device. So, in addition to being able to see the traffic and weather data on the GTN 650/750, you can also see that on the larger screen on an iPad or Android tablet. It just brings additional data and value to the cockpit," said Stone.
Operators looking to upgrade to acquire the new Flight Stream 510 are required to have the associated GTN 650/750 software upgrade installed by a certified repair station. Stone said both the software upgrade and the Flight Stream 510 will be available to customers this month.