Canada's CMC Electronics is showcasing a new generation of its PilotView electronic flight bag (EFB), equipped with a 10.4in (265mm) display, here at Paris, and is giving public outings for Sukhoi's Superjet 100 regional jet - fitted with a CMC flight management system - and one of Patria's BAE Systems Hawk advanced jet trainers, Mark 51, equipped with a CMC glass cockpit.

Owned by Bellevue, Washington-based Esterline Technologies (hall 5, E20) - which acquired the Canadian element of Marconi's business for $345 million in March 2007 - CMC supplies cockpits and avionics for retrofit and OEM installation, in both the military and commercial markets, with the downturn in the latter cushioned by the relative robustness of the former. None of the company's customers, the largest of which is the US Department of Defense, accounts individually for "much over 8%" of total business, according to Bruce Bailey, vice-president of commercial aviation.


The diversified company has been a supplier of Inmarsat satcom antennas for 20 years and has lately sought to take advantage of Inmarsat's high-speed data capabilities with new products, not just for cockpits, but also for cabins, where regulatory moves to permit wireless operation open new possibilities.

It has expanded its commercial EFB business beyond a business aviation core to include major air transport OEMs such as Boeing, which is to offer production and retrofit installations of CMC's class 2 EFB hardware on selected aircraft models, starting with the 737 NG. Meanwhile, CMC's cooled infrared sensor, part of its range of enhanced vision systems, has found applications in Bombardier Global and Dassault Falcon aircraft.

The SureSight sensor will shortly be available for the Bombardier Challenger 605 and Boeing Business Jet too, while a high-resolution version is in development for the "model 145" successor to the Bombardier Global Express, with certification scheduled for late 2010 or early 2011. GPS sensors are also part of CMC's avionics offering, along with flight management systems.

Meanwhile, retrofit cockpit business is "robust", says Bailey, with new cockpits required not just by Boeing 747s and Boeing MD-80s but by Lockheed Martin C-130s and tankers that fly in civil air routes and so require civil certification - "a nice product area" which has helped balance "challenges" on the civil side, says Bailey. Sample cockpit displays can be viewed at CMC's booth in hall 3 (D50).

On the military side, CMC's cockpits business has a niche focus on basic trainers. It manufactures entire cockpits for the Beechcraft T-6B and Korea Aerospace Industries KT-1 turboprop trainers and for the Aermacchi M-311 jet trainer.

It also supplies a portion of the cockpit of the Pilatus PC-21 turboprop trainer. Jean-Michel Comtois, CMC's vice-president of defence aviation, believes that the company's trainer cockpits have a "very cost-effective architecture", deploying as they do plastic lenses and "dumb" (rather than smart) multifunctional displays.

He characterises this area of business as "immune from budget pressure", noting that CMC has begun production of a T-6B for the US Navy, which faces a requirement to replace T-34 trainers. Next year's orders are expected to be confirmed in "the September/October timeframe". CMC is also providing cockpits for the 40 XKT-1 trainers (plus 15 options) ordered by Turkey. The XKT-1 is the export version of KAI's KT-1. Turkey's first flight of the type is scheduled for the third quarter.

By Comtois's estimation, a basic trainer offers training costs of $600-$800 an hour, compared with $6,000-$8,000 an hour for advanced trainers and $20,000 an hour for frontline fighters. With air forces under pressure to reduce training costs, CMC's decision to focus on basic rather than advanced trainers, offering a single capability via glass cockpit and head-up display, represented not just "a huge leap of faith" but "an accurate assessment" that is starting to pay dividends, says Comtois.


In keeping with its trainer strategy CMC has partnered Marshall Aerospace to compete for the UK's MFTS (Military Flying Training System) with an upgraded Tucano, intended to offer cost savings. Work on building a prototype will begin in the third quarter. The Royal Jordanian Air Force, meanwhile, has - according to Comtois - paid a visit to CMC ahead of a possible upgrade of its EADS Casa C-101 trainers.

CMC's flight management system is intended to be a systems integrator: "the box that speaks to the largest number of other boxes on the airplane", as Comtois puts it. "Being the key element of most avionics integration, it has put us in a position where we now own real estate in a number of key programmes."

An FMS developed by CMC has been selected for the Sikorsky UH-60M helicopters, with 300 units delivered so far. UH-60Ms have been deployed in Iraq and Afghanistan, and the box is migrating to other helicopters programmes, for customers including the Canadian Maritime Agency and the South African Air Force.

A military version of the PilotView EFB - incorporating night vision capability, "glove-hand friendly" design and bright displays - has also been used on missions to Iraq. Branded TacView, the EFB has been adopted by Lockheed Martin for the C-130J Block 7 upgrades due next year.

Comtois cites the fact that TacView does not need to "talk" to the existing avionics suite as one of its advantages, and say he is "confident" that the EFB will be selected by the USA's Air National Guard, which is "actively pursuing" a datalink capability for its transport fleets, with implementation due within the next year.

Above: Front and rear aspects of the Patria Hawk trainer cockpit

Left: The FMS CMA-9000 flight management system, deployed on the Sukhoi Superjet 100

Below: The PilotView can display weather charts and aircraft/operator manuals

The Sukhoi Superjet 100 (above) with a CMC flight management system and Patria BAE Systems Hawk advanced jet trainer with a CMC glass cockpit are in Paris

Source: Flight Daily News