Business & GA

New Avionics, Connectivity Tech Takes Center Stage at NBAA 2016

By Woodrow Bellamy III  | November 10, 2016
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[Avionics Magazine 11-09-2016] With 107 total avionics manufacturers, distributors dealers and service providers exhibiting at the 2016 National Business Aviation Association (NBAA) Business and Conference Exhibition, it would be impossible to recap all of the new avionics technology and industry updates featured at the show. Here, we’ve selected the greatest and most revolutionary avionics technology on display at NBAA 2016, and have called on experts to provide you with perspective on their impact.
Aircraft on display at the Orlando Executive Airport for NBAA. Photo: NBAA.
The largest development at this year’s show came from Satcom Direct, who announced its acquisition of TrueNorth Avionics. You can read more about it in our in-depth in our interview with Satcom Direct CTO Ken Bantoft. But there were also new Communications, Navigation and Surveillance (CNS) and aircraft technology on display throughout the show that showcased the latest level of innovation in the avionics industry. Some trends at the show include the continued integration of Internet Protocol (IP) as well as new uses for satellite communications and bluetooth technology in aircraft cockpits.


Thales made a strong connected aircraft showing by announcing its new FlytLink connected cockpit and crew operational satellite-based connectivity platform, enabled by Iridium Certus. According to Robert Squire, head of Link satellite communications at Thales USA, the company is a value-added manufacturer for Iridium Certus, meaning the French OEM can manufacture aircraft onboard terminal equipment in-air reporting, service logging, flight crew scheduling, aircraft monitoring and other operational service needs. It also supports Electronic Flight Bag (EFB) pairing, real-time weather, active aircraft tracking, secure pilot and crew Wi-Fi access and satcom calling using the Iridium NEXT constellation of 66 satellites (once it is launched) to provide speeds of up to 1.4 megabytes per second. 
“We have a roadmap for an integrated IP and safety services solution, which no one else can offer today,” said Squire. “These solutions will rely on Iridium’s fully-global L-band spectrum to deliver communications capabilities. L-Band is more capable of serving the mission-critical environment of cockpit communications and it is not susceptible to weather conditions, such as Ka- or Ku-spectrum. This ensures coverage availability during all flight phases. The network is certified for flight safety communications that are more secure than passenger Wi-Fi solutions, more reliable and more globally available,” said Squire. 
Avionica was also part of some significant connected-aircraft technology news during NBAA. GE Aviation introduced its new health management platform for its CF34-3 engines powering the Bombardier Challenger 600 series aircraft. The new engine health monitoring service, Prognostic Health Management Plus, is designed to provide real-time updates about engine conditions to Challenger 600 operators. According to GE, the service uses Avionica’s miniature Quick Access Recorder (miniQAR) with 4G cellular module (avCM 4G) and avSYNC global data transfer service to send engine data directly to GE’s prognostic health management data centers, where GE’s engine analysts produce operational insights, predictive maintenance reports and safety event awareness for Flight Operational Quality Assurance (FOQA).
“By equipping the aircraft with Avionica’s miniQAR and avCM 4G cellular module and connecting it our avSYNC network, GE is able to receive the engine data following each flight. By comparison, the process followed today requires aircraft operators to collocate aircraft and maintenance crews to manually extract data from the aircraft and send the data to GE.  The logistics for accomplishing this usually means data is retrieved on extended time periods as the aircraft repositions to the operator’s maintenance base,” Anthony Rios, vice president of sales for Avionica, told Avionics Magazine
Under the new program, GE Aviation plans to deliver Avionica’s miniQAR MKIII data recorder and avCM 4G cellular devices to CF34-3 engine customers who subscribe to GE’s OnPoint Diagnostic services. AvSYNC then provides the global data network by where the miniQAR and avCM hardware automatically transmit the aircraft data to the data analysis centers. OnPoint is a comprehensive engine maintenance program that includes scheduled and unscheduled engine required maintenance.  Part of the goal of the program is to provide operators with predictive health analytics to extend the in-service life and reliability of the CF34-3 engine, according to Rios.
Air to ground (ATG) in-flight connectivity (IFC) network service provider SmartSky Networks also announced that the TrueNorth Avionics Optelity router has been approved for its 4G network, as well as a partnership with Avidyne to manufacture and certify wireless connectivity products for the network. In September, the SmartSky 4G radio system completed the major milestone of receiving FCC certification, clearing the way for deployment of the 4G ATG network next year.
In other NBAA connected aircraft news, Honeywell unveiled a new suite of support tools for its GoDirect services platform that gives business jet operators the ability to manage the cost of data bills associated with the use of connectivity on their aircraft, from their iPhone or iPad. Satcom Direct also launched a live television streaming service, SD Live, giving passengers the ability to stream live television via their personal electronic devices using high-speed airborne data connections on aircraft equipped with JetConnex, SmartSky, ViaSat Ka- and Ku-band, or Panasonic Ku-band systems.

Navigation Tech

Avionics Magazine Editor Woodrow Bellamy III using the Thales TopMax helmet worn Head-up Display. As an alternative or complementary solution to current head-up displays, TopMax reduces take-off and landing minima and offers new functionality based on its wearable design, such as off-axis symbology and 3D scenery with unlimited field of view, designation and cueing functions (traffic display, dir to, etc.) and an extended virtual display to avoid looking down. Photo: Thales USA.

Esterline CMC Electronics also used NBAA 2016 to announce the market launch of its new aircraft agnostic CMA-6024 GPS Sensor that delivers a high-reliability Satellite Based Augmentation System and Ground Based Augmentation System (SBAS/GBAS) CAT-l/ll/lll precision approach capabilities.
The CMA-6024 aviation GPS/SBAS/GBAS sensor, featuring an embedded VHF Data Broadcast (VDB) receiver, is a complete, self-contained, fully certified, Precision Approach and navigation solution, certified to Design Assurance Level A (DAL-A). Designed as an easy-to-integrate solution for all aircraft, the plug and play, standalone unit requires no specialized installation or integration support.
The new CMA-6024 provides a navigation solution that is fully compliant with published FAA requirements for ADS-B and Required Navigation Performance (RNP) operations. The CMA-6024 includes SBAS Localizer Performance/Localizer Performance with Vertical Guidance (LP/LPV) and GBAS Global Navigation Satellite System Landing System (GLS) GAST-C/D Precision Approach guidance for all aircraft. 
“The CMA-6024 is a self-contained GPS receiver and precision landing system supporting both SBAS/LPV and GBAS/GLS approaches, all in one box. It is the ideal bolt-on solution for both retrofit and new aircraft wishing to have an alternative to ILS for CAT-I/II/III, up to CAT-IIIb, precision landing operations,” Tarek Sabanekh, program manager for the navigation systems division at Esterline CMC Electronics, told Avionics Magazine.
Esterline’s CMA-6024. Photo: Esterline.
Along with the 6024, Esterline is also offering operators of aircraft already equipped with the CMA-5024 to receive an upgrade that will add the new self-contained GBAS/GLS functionality featured on the CMA-6024.
Innovative Solutions & Support (IS&S) CEO Geoffrey Hedrick also lead a press conference during NBAA where he talked at length about the company’s upgrade for the Pilatus PC-12 cockpit. The upgrade features three LCD displays, an Integrated Standby Unit (ISU), PT6 Engine Data Concentrator Unit, a patent pending auto-throttle upgrade kit , two Beta-3 GPS units, remote radios, integrated dual flight management system supporting RNP and LPV approaches.
“It will fly constant airspeeds, constant torques, it has a remarkable application and execution of the NextGen RNP approaches,” Hedrick said during the press conference. “If you move the throttle in a position that would ‘under-speed’ the airplane or ‘over-speed’ the engine it shakes the throttle handle like a stick shake, so the pilot can move the throttle up and get a tactical feedback of the position and operating speed.”


One of the latest surveillance-related technologies introduced at NBAA came in the form of an ADS-B Out testing application introduced by Cobham Avcomm. The new application controls Cobham’s IFR6000 or IFR6015 transponder test sets and GPSG-1000 positional simulator  to support Supplemental Type Certification (STC) and post-approval testing for ADS-B equipment installations per FAA Advisory Circular (AC) 20-165B. 
For Research and Development (R&D) and factory test, the app will control Cobham’s IFF-45TS/A MK XII/A bench test set and the GPSG-1000 for ADS-B Out performance. The system can generate a complete ADS-B Out compliance report in FAA format, including a measurement for total latency showing pass/fail criteria.
Becker Avionics also introduced its latest ADS-B transponder product line, the Prime Line 6500 series, which the company describes as being intended for retrofitting fixed and rotary wing airframes that need transponder upgrades to meet the U.S. and European 2020 ADS-B airspace mandates. The transponder is ready for both Instrument Flight Rules (IFR) and Visual Flight Rules (VFR) flights and is able to operate in what Becker refers to as “diversity mode.” The transponder is capable of providing an interface to an aircraft’s Airborne Collision Avoidance System/ Traffic Alert and Collision Avoidance System (ACAS/TCAS) systems and a datalink connection to the Aircraft Data Link Processor (ADLP), and can be controlled by a dedicated control unit, integrated radio tuning units or a Flight Management System (FMS). 
Aviation Communication & Surveillance Systems (ACSS), the L-3/Thales joint venture, also unveiled a new transponder and self-contained GPS receiver that meet the DO-260B requirements for the 2020 U.S. and European ADS-B mandates. The company already had two transponders available for the business jet and commercial airline markets, but was lacking in a position source, which they feel they have fulfilled with the NXT-700 transponder and the NXG-900 WAAS GPS and FIS-B receiver. During their press conference at NBAA, ACSS announced an Approved Model List Supplemental Type Certificate for the following aircraft types:
– Beechcraft Hawker 125-400A/700A, Bae 125 series 800A/800B
– Beechcraft Hawker 800/800XP
– Boeing DC-9-15
– Bombardier CL-600/601/604, DHC-7-1/100/101/102/103, DHC-8-100/200/300
– Bombardier Learjet 25/25(A-D,F), 31/31A, 35/35A, 36/36A, 55
– Dassault Aviation Falcon 10, 20, 50, 200, 900, 900EX
– Fokker F28 Mark 1000
– Gulfstream G-II, G-IIB, G-III, G-IV, 1125 Westwind Astra
– IAI 1124, 1124A
– Saab340A
– Sabreliner Aviation NA-265-40/60/65
– Textron Citation 550, S550, 560, 650

The FAA’s latest reported ADS-B equipage numbers for the U.S.-registered General Aviation (GA) fleet shows a total of 18,202 GA aircraft have been equipped with ADS-B mandate compliant solutions. Based on current equipage numbers, industry experts do not expect every aircraft that needs ADS-B upgrades to get them by the Jan. 1, 2020 deadline.

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