The first Boeing 747 "Classic" to be retrofitted with a digital cockpit has been certificated by the German civil aviation authority.

The aircraft, an ex-United Airlines 747SPbelonging to the Brunei royal family, was modified by Lufthansa Technik in Hamburg, Germany (Flight International, 26 June-2 July, 1996). It has been fitted with the basic equipment needed to take advantage of the Future Air Navigation System (FANS), although the necessary software for this capability is not yet available for the 747 Classic.

The upgrade includes the installation of three Honeywell HT9100 digital flight-management system computers, with multi-function control and display units and global-positioning systems, and satellite communications equipment.

Honeywell also supplied five electronic flight-instrument system (EFIS) units - two primary displays for each pilot, and a moving map mounted on the central console. The four primary cathode-ray tube displays are similar to those used in the McDonnell Douglas MD-90. AlliedSignal supplied the aircraft-communications-addressing and reporting system.

Certification of the Brunei aircraft comes as Lufthansa Technik steps up its efforts to secure more orders for Classic cockpit upgrades. "We have had a lot of requests for proposals, and have put out a large number of proposals," says Siegmar Gomille, head of avionics development at Lufthansa Technik. He says that the company is "in discussions with a Far East operator" over upgrading 747 Classics (pre-747-400 variants), while a major US carrier, which is believed to be United Airlines, is interested in equipping Boeing 727s with the FANS.

Lufthansa is calculating the cost-effectiveness of modifying its own 747-200s, and the -200 freighters of its cargo subsidiary, he adds.

Lufthansa Technik estimates that FANS routes are on average 7% shorter than conventional, less direct routes, saving up to $500,000 a year per aircraft. The FANS is now only available on some transpacific routes for FANS-1-equipped 747-400s. Airbus plans shortly to begin flight trials of its FANS-A solution for A330s and A340s.

Source: Flight International