LAS VEGAS – At the 2019 National Business Aviation Association (NBAA), airframe manufacturers, avionics vendors and jet engine-makers pushed this segment of the air transportation industry forward by embracing future-facing technologies that made this one of the most technology-intensive Business Aviation Conference and Exhibitions (BACE) ever to be held here.
Look out for more in-depth interviews and coverage of news from the event over the next few editions of the Avionics International Report (AIR). Here, in no particular order of ranking we provide a look at 10 of the most innovative technologies we saw at the event this year.
Saab Vū EFVS
The Saab Vu next generation enhanced flight vision system was shown for the first time publicly at NBAA 2019. Photo: Saab
Under a partnership between Swedish aerospace manufacturer Saab and passive millimeter wave (PMMW) sensor-maker Vū Systems, the Saab Vū enhanced flight vision system (EFVS) comprises a new sensor and software that fuses the sensor images with infrared and synthetic vision that are then projected on the new Saab Head-Up Display (HUD).
Safran's Uber Air Taxi Concept Cabin and Cockpit
Safran's Uber air taxi cabin concept.
In a co-creation project with Uber Air, Safran Cabin designed a fully integrated air taxi vehicle mock-up. The inside of the cabin sits up to four passengers, and has a cargo compartment in the rear with two screens in the front that feature vehicle health monitoring information.
Here's what passengers in the front of the cabin would see, based on Safran and Uber's future vision for an electric vertical takeoff and landing aircraft.
The rear section of Safran and Uber's air taxi cabin has cargo compartment.
Pilatus PT6 E-series
Pratt & Whitney Canada had its new PT6 E-Series turboprop engine on display at NBAA 2019.
The latest update to Pratt & Whitney Canada's PT6 engine family is the new "E-Series" version, which the company describes as the general aviation industry's first integrated dual-channel electronic engine and propeller control system. Pilatus uses the new digitized version of the PT6 on their new Pilatus PC-12 NGX.
True Blue Power's Gen5 Lithium Ion Batteries
The 40-amp hour version of True Blue Power's Gen5 lithium ion battery.
NBAA 2019 provided True Blue Power the opportunity to exhibit its new Technical Standard Order (TSO) certified Gen5 main ship family of lithium ion batteries. The Mid Continent Instrument company describes the new batteries as “maintenance free,” with the ability to communicate real-time state-of-charge and state-of-health data.
XTI's TriFan 600
XTI's TriFan 600
NBAA 2019 was the first time the event featured a section dedicated to urban air mobility concept aircraft. In the section XTI featured a one-third scale model of its TriFan 600 hybrid electric vertical takeoff and landing (eVTOL) aircraft. A 65 percent scale prototype is currently undergoing flight testing at XTI’s California and Utah facilities.
The company describes TriFan 600 as a six-seater aircraft that will be capable of a maximum cruising speed of 300 knots and a cruise altitude of 29,000 feet with a range of 1,000 nautical miles. Using three ducted fans, the aircraft lifts off vertically before two wing fans rotate forward to transition it into horizontal cruise.
ScioTeq's FDU-3188 display.
Belgium-based cockpit display-maker ScioTeq, which claims to have fielded more than 250,000 displays on more than 150 different aircraft types, had its new FDU-3138 on display. The display is 15-inches and features 8-bit liquid crystal display technology with RS-422, ARINC 429 and discretes capabilities.
Thales describes TopMax as a wearable head up display (HUD) system with a full-color 360-degree field-of-regard that features unlimited terrain and obstacle awareness with the use of the synthetic vision system (SVS). It can also be coupled with any enhanced vision system (EVS) sensor.
A view of what the pilot is able to see inside the glass featured on the TopMax wearable HUD.
L3Harris EFD-750 Backup Display
L3Harris Technologies exhibited its new EFD-750 active matrix liquid crystal display, featuring solid-state sensors and provides a back-up functionality that the company is targeting for turboprops, light jets and helicopters. Pilatus is now featuring the EFD-750 on its PC-12 and PC-24 aircraft.
Honeywell's UAM Cockpit Concept
Honeywell's UAM cockpit concept.
Honeywell Aerospace is working with several companies developing future eVTOL aircraft, but has not yet displayed any concepts for what it envisions could work for future UAM flight controls. At NBAA, the company showed a singular wide-area cockpit concept display. During the 2019 Uber Elevate event, we interviewed Honeywell executives about how they're approaching a reduction in size to their existing fixed and rotary wing flight control systems for the future UAM market.
Bell's Nexus eVTOL Cockpit
Bell had a mockup version of its future Nexus eVTOL.
Bell brought its Nexus eVTOL air taxi mockup to NBAA and allowed attendees inside the four-passenger cabin and cockpit. Check out our recent interview with Bell's engineering team about how they're developing the Nexus flight control system from the June 2019 edition of Avionics.
Bell's Nexus cockpit features three high definition displays.