Honeywell has solidified its lead position in the advanced vision and navigation arena with the launch of two products for high-end cockpits at this year's NBAA business aviation convention.
Soon to be available for Gulfstream PlaneView cockpits is Honeywell's second-generation synthetic vision upgrade, part of the sixth planned upgrade of the product. Dubbed "Cert Foxtrot", the evolution, certificated in September, also offers enhanced navigation in the form of satellite-based augmentation system (SBAS) approaches, required navigation performance (RNP) to as tight as 0.1nm (0.18km), XM weather and paperless charts.
For Dassault, the new EASy II flightdeck will feature many of the same enhancements as well as synthetic vision for the first time in the EASy-equipped cockpits of the Falcon 900 and Falcon 2000 families as well as for the 7X.
Production for the Gulfstream line is expected early next year, says Chad Cundiff, vice-president of crew interface systems for Honeywell, although the package will not be available for retrofit after the completion of a 1,000h in-service evaluation with a dozen Gulfstream operators, standard operating procedure for the airframer when it comes to major avionics upgrades.
PlaneView is the standard avionics offering on all Gulfstream large-cabin jets.
Dassault expects to certificate EASy II for the Falcon 900EX in the first quarter of 2010, with production to start in June. Certifications for the Falcon 2000 and 7X will follow about one year later, says Woody Saland, manager of technical programmes for Dassault Falcon. Both companies expect to release prices for the upgrades, many of which are options, at the show this week.
Improvements to Honeywell's SV-PFD 2.0 synthetic vision system for PlaneView are subtle yet significant. For the first time, terrain is now rendered under the horizontal situation indicator (HSI) on the bottom of the primary flight display, increasing situational awareness. Also included in the optional SV-PFD 2.0 are more detailed runway displays that add runway numbers and centreline markings, and runway extended centreline distance markers.
Other upgrades on the HSI at the bottom of the primary flight display include a "view fustrum", two whisker-like lines the form a cone outward from the nose, as well as traffic and terrain warnings. XM weather will be available as part of the upgrade packages on both the Dassault and Gulfstream avionics suites, enhancing situational awareness as well as operational efficiency.
Key to optimising efficiency, however, will be the new navigation features for both airframers. The optional enhanced navigation package for Gulfstream includes wide area augmentation system lateral precision with vertical guidance (LPV) approach capability, which allows non-precision instrument approaches typically down to 250ft (76m) above the ground, boosting reliable access to airports without traditional instrument approach system infrastructure.
As an example, Cundiff says inclement weather at Houston Executive airport would scuttle one out of every 11 non-precision approaches based on ground-based navigation aids (RNAV), while affecting only one in 22 approaches with WAAS LPV.
Cert Foxtrot also takes precision approaches to the next level, with RNP 0.1nm capability and Honeywell Go Direct services to help operators qualify to fly special aircrew and aircraft authorisation required (SAAAR) approaches, offering access to airports challenged by terrain, traffic or noise constraints. Cundiff notes that RNP approaches, with minimums of 300ft and 1nm visibility to Palm Springs Airport provide 40h of additional access in inclement weather compared with the traditional VOR or GPS approach, which requires a ceiling of 1,900ft and 3nm visibility.
Although operators can gain approval for SAAAR on their own, Cundiff says using its third-party service cuts the approval time by a factor of four, down to roughly four months. Honeywell has gained six approvals to date.
Other upgrades include pilot-controller datalink (FANS 1/A) capability, that will allow more direct oceanic routing, shaving 15-30min from a transoceanic flight.
Honeywell has also made software changes to the inertial navigation system that allow for a "gentle" degradation of the aircraft's computed position solution when the GPS signal is lost, alleviating the need to immediately abandon a GPS approach. The system now also has align-in-motion capability, allowing the inertial position system to align itself on the move after a power cycle or reset.
While the Dassault EASy II system has many of the same features as the PlaneView upgrade, it also has its own unique characteristics, particularly in how data is organised and displayed. Dassault's Saland notes that EASy does not have a control display unit for the flight management system on the centre console, as does Gulfstream, but instead has a single display that the two pilots share, part of the airframer's "working together in the middle" philosophy that is continued with EASy II.
As part of that philosophy, checklists pop up on the centre console automatically if there is a problem, and the system involved in the checklist then pops up on the same display.
New for EASy II is an auto-descent mode that will activate automatically in the event of cabin depressurisation at high altitudes. According to Saland, the system uses the aircraft's autopilot to command the aircraft down to a safe altitude at maximum velocity, offering "peace of mind for business jets operating at high altitudes".