Ian Sheppard/LONDON

Meggitt Avionics has been selected by Boeing as the sole supplier of solid-state electronic standby instrument systems for the US manufacturer's range of -7 series aircraft, including the Next Generation 737 and the 777. The deal is worth around $15 million a year to the UK company.

The contract for the secondary flight-display system was signed in December 1997 and will run until 2006. Meggitt fended off bids from its nearest rival BFGoodrich, as well as offers from Smiths Industries and Sextant Avionique.

Meggitt Avionics managing director Doug Gemmell believes that its dominant market position, particularly in the business-aircraft sector, and a technical lead of "around a year", swung the deal in its favour. Boeing's earlier adoption of Meggitt's solid-state clock, deliveries of which start in July, has also helped establish the small UK company's credentials in Seattle.

Gemmell says that one unnamed "major world airline" has ordered the unit in an as-yet-unannounced order with Boeing. The first example will be fitted in January 1999, says Gemmell, who is confident that Boeing will make the display "standard fit by 2001", although a contract clause allows some airlines to select competitors' units for continuity in retrofit programmes. He says that Airbus is evaluating the unit on an Airbus A321 and is due to make a decision by June.

Meggitt Avionics and BFGoodrich are the only two companies to certificate and announce sales for their new displays, which replace the three standby instruments (altimeter, attitude indicator and airspeed indicator) now used. Only the 777 already has three solid-state standby instruments. Both systems can, in addition, display the cross-hairs of the instrument-landing system, magnetic heading and Mach number.

Meggitt's unit was the first to be certificated, in December 1996, and was awarded US Federal Aviation Administration-type approval on the Cessna Ultra in January 1997. Its second customer was Gulfstream, for its GIV and GV, followed by the US Air Force for its Lockheed C-141 Starliftercockpit-upgrade programme. Around 150 units have been shipped to Cessna and 30 to Gulfstream.

William Gay, BFGoodrich Avionics sales manager, declines to comment on sales figures or numbers shipped of its GH-3000 Electronic Standby Instrument System (ESIS), certificated in "mid-1997". It is also an option on the GIV and GV and will be standard on the Ayres Loadmaster and Bell Boeing 609 civil tilt-rotor.

A software update this year will give the BFGoodrich ESIS an interface with aircraft flight-management systems, which Meggitt's system will not have, saying that it stopped short with a "complete get-me-home package with no fiddling around with menus", which it says could confuse pilots.

Source: Flight International