Business & GA, Connectivity

GE, Bombardier Bring Free Health Monitoring Upgrade to 2,500 Business Jets

Under a new partnership between GE Aviation and Bombardier, up to 2,500 Challenger and Global business jets will receive a free Smart Link Plus health monitoring technology upgrade. Photo: Bombardier

A new partnership that has been developing over the past year will see Bombardier and GE Aviation bringing a new health monitoring unit, the Smart Link Plus, as a free upgrade to 2,500 Challenger and Global business jets that are both in-service and in-production.

The upgrades will start in late 2020, under a partnership between the two companies confirmed during the 2019 National Business Aviation Association annual conference and exhibition. Eligible Challenger and Global operators will be able to receive the upgrade to the Smart Link Plus health monitoring unit at any of Bombardier’s nine different service centers.

The Smart Link Plus health monitoring unit upgrade will see Avionica’s onboard network system, aviONS, installed into the electric equipment bay of Challenger and Global jets. Avionica describes aviONS as featuring a remote data concentrator, airborne data loader, quick access recorder and cabin/flight deck server with up to one terabyte of storage. A product description of aviONS also notes a 4G gateway and the ability to capture ARINC 429 and 717 data as well as an ARINC 759 aircraft interface device. Full duplex-switched Ethernet and removable SD cards are also capabilities of the box.

The Smart Link Plus upgrade will install the Avionica aviONS technology on Bombardier's Challenger and Global business jets. Photo: Avionica

Bombardier and GE want operators to be able to use the combination of the data capturing capabilities from Avionica and GE’s analytics software to develop their own aircraft health monitoring and pilot efficiency applications.

“We’re hoping over the next three years, 2,500 tails are going to be retrofitted. Totally for free, this is a real disruption in terms of getting these legacy business jet operators into the fully connected aircraft age,” Andrew Coleman, Senior VP, Digital Solutions of GE Aviation told Avionics International.

A key enabler for the Smart Link Plus vision will be through GE Aviation’s Digital Works services leveraging GE’s experience in data and analytics. Digital Works will support the operator including connectivity, cockpit communications, flight support, and safety applications.

“Our digital business was not launched with the charter of just make engines better, we do that a lot but we do a lot of work on full airframe,” Coleman said. “Through the years we’ve built a series of ATA chapter libraries on aircraft we work on the most to predict landing gear failure, to predict seals on a door not working properly, pneumatics, fuel pumps, everything on the aircraft and now with this Smart Link upgrade these operators will have a single access point to analyzing all of the data.”

Along with the Smart Link Plus free upgrade partnership, GE has also now become the “Preferred Service Provider” for aircraft connectivity on Bombardier business jets. That will now make GE the preferred provider of cockpit and cabin connectivity solutions, including “new, curated service bundles,” according to GE Aviation.

Coleman said that means connectivity services can now be purchased directly through GE by Bombardier operators, and their digital analytics division is also developing a new single interfacing point where both operators and other manufacturers that supply parts and systems to Bombardier jets can view the status of their parts. Operators will also own 100 percent of the data, according to Coleman.

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“All operators will continue to have other options we just hold the Bombardier preferred label. We are working to bundle offerings so that an operator will not have to buy numerous contracts from numerous suppliers. We will be building a single platform for that information that will securely provide views to each OEM for their respective parts on the aircraft,” Coleman said. “Our bold moonshot is that we want to make [aircraft on ground] AOGs a thing of the past.”

Challenger and Global operators will be able to start obtaining free Smart Link Plus upgrades beginning in the second half of 2020.

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