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NBAA: CMC lands SmartDeck orders for mystery aircraft

Esterline CMC Electronics is in "final discussions" with two airframers who have chosen the company's SmartDeck integrated avionics suite for two unannounced programs.

One of the programs is a new twin-engine, two-pilot Part 23 Class 3 (greater than 6,000lb maximum takeoff weight) aircraft; the other a new Part 23 Class 1 aircraft (piston single under 6,000lb MTOW).

The imminent wins cap a whirlwind one-year integration of SmartDeck, originally developed by L-3 and certified for the Cirrus SR22, into the CMC fold. The company has had as many as 75 engineers working on the SmartDeck program at any one time during the integration of the new product.

The Bellevue, Washington-based company has 1,200 employees and has reported record revenues over the past few years, thanks to a 50:50 work split between military and commercial programs. Military programs have held strong, particularly C-130 cockpit modernizations and production Hawker Beechcraft T-6B cockpits.

Greg Yeldon, CMC president, said SmartDeck, which the company licenses from L-3, gives it a "broader portfolio" in the avionics business, adding to its T-6B military trainer and Lockheed C-130 cockpit retrofit avionics programmes. The deal also makes the synthetic vision and digital map technologies L-3 developed for SmartDeck available to other CMC avionics systems, such as the Cockpit 4000 integrated avionics suite for the T6-B. "There are a lot of spin-offs we are working on," said Yeldon.

"The strength of SmartDeck is its ease of use," he added. "The situational awareness and capability of systems in terms of simplicity and the capability to expand it." In addition to synthetic vision, CMC is talking up its second-generation highway-in-the-sky (HITS) symbology for the SmartDeck. It has the dual-pilot cockpit on display at the show.

With Garmin so prevalent in the Class 3 market, why would an airframer look to CMC? "Their objective is to sell an airplane," said Yeldon. "There are elements they want that will distinguish their aircraft from the others."

He said CMC "reached out to the market, had a lot of discussions with potential customers and got feedback on what they're looking for, both for retrofit and forward-fit".

Yeldon was not sure if either of the two new aircraft would be announced either before or during NBAA.