Marconi Avionics has begun flight testing the HUD 2020 head-up display for the Next Generation (NG) 737 on a leased 737-800 based at Mojave, California.

The tests are aimed at achieving US Federal Aviation Administration certification in the first quarter of 1999, followed by immediate deliveries to Boeing for installation in the first of 100 aircraft destined for American Airlines.

Initial aircraft from the batch of 22 due to be delivered without the HUD in 1999 will be retrofitted, says Marconi.

The -800 flight test effort, on a new aircraft leased from UK operator Sabre Airways, follows a "risk reduction exercise" on a 737-200.

"We are hoping the task on the -800 will be straightforward," says flight test director Dave Kingstone. For the tests, the -200 was fitted with digital avionics, inertial reference navigation systems, revised flightdeck displays and new communications systems.

"It thought it was a Next Generation aircraft, and probably held the vast majority of the -800's functionality," says Kingstone. The aircraft amassed 170 cycles during more than 80 flight hours, not including demonstration flights for the FAA.

The current HUD 2020 system being tested on the -800 is configured with a dedicated display guidance computer to drive the HUD.

"However, we plan to work with Honeywell to work out how to reduce the box count and integrate it directly with the aircraft's VIA [versatile integrated avionics] system," says Kingstone.

"One of the selling points is that this system will be easily configured to work with the VIA system, and with that it will be able to drive a dual HUD cockpit."

The present system, with the display guidance system, is rigged to drive the left-hand seat HUD only, because of the relatively short time available for development before deliveries begin to American, the launch customer for the Marconi system.

Meanwhile, Marconi is also using its 737-200 experience to "-examine the feasibility of retrofit packages". It adds: "We are not going for an STC [supplemental type certificate] on what we've done here, but it has given us ideas for how we can approach Classic operators," adds Kingstone.

The FAA has certificated Flight Dynamics' Head-up-Guidance System (HGS) on the Boeing 737-700 for Category IIIa landings in visibility as low as 600ft runway visual range (RVR) and take-offs as low as 300ft RVR.

Certification clears the way for the HGS to be installed on 129 737-700s on order by launch customer Southwest Airlines.

Source: Flight International