Daimler-Benz Aerospace (Dasa)is beginning a six-month flight-test campaign for a new flight-management system (FMS), the NFS-5000, developed by its Ulm, Germany-based subsidiary Navigation and Flight Guidance Systems (NFS).

The system creates flight plans for pilots, who simply have to enter their point of departure and destination. It is otherwise a normal FMS, creating in-flight guidance commands, but the cockpit display is controlled by a new "point-and-click" interface, says NFS, eliminating the need for a physical keyboard.

Demonstrator units have now been fitted to three Alitalia Boeing MD-80s. According to NFS, the aircraft will continue to fly regular domestic-passenger services while tests are carried out .

Development of the NFS-5000 is 50% funded through the European Union's (EU) Fusion of Radar and Automatic Dependent Surveillance Data through Two-way Data Link programme (known as FARAWAY), which also involves Italy's Alenia and Dassault Electronique of France.

The FARAWAY system consists of a cockpit display and a navigation unit, which feeds digital data to a ground station via a VHF datalink. Air-traffic controllers can use the information, which is merged on to radar displays, while it is also uplinked back to the aircraft, where conflicting traffic is shown on a digital map.

While Dasa has responsibility for the integration of airborne components, Alenia was commissioned by the EU to install a ground station, developed together with Dassault Electronique, at Rome's Ciampino Airport. According to Dasa, the ground station is now in the final phase of installation tests.

Dasa says that it is now negotiating with the EU for a follow-on programme, FARAWAY2, which will involve further flight testing on more aircraft. The company hopes that the test results will encourage airlines to buy the NFS system for commercial use.

Source: Flight International