1. Connecting Pilots and Maintenance Providers
Specifications: Avionica’s most recent products and capabilities include AviONS (an onboard network server with integrated QAR, RDC, 4G wireless GSE Module and Wi-Fi), SatLINK MAX (Iridium Satellite Communication) and MiniQAR (miniature quick-access recorder, with 4G wireless GSE module/AvCM and AvSYNC service). The Avionica platforms connect third-party software systems to the aircraft cockpit, enabling pilots to become more aware of maintenance issues in flight: “Maintenance has historically been seen as something that’s done when the aircraft is on the ground . . . . Besides the paper trail between the flight and technical operations, there’s really no real-time coordination. That’s where things are really changing,” says Anthony Rios, vice president of sales. The AvIONS aircraft interface device holds supplemental type certificates for most Airbus, ATR, Boeing, Bombardier, Cessna, Dassault, Embraer, Gulfstream and Saab aircraft.
2. Wireless Connection
Company: Teledyne Controls
Specifications: Teledyne Controls released GroundLink AID+ two years ago to extend aircraft interface device (AID) functions to all aircraft, allowing tablets and crew devices to connect wirelessly to electronic flight bags to reduce manual data-entry errors as well as provide internet access while on the ground. Currently, 10,000 GroundLink Comm+ systems from Teledyne are flying. GroundLink AID+ integration requires a software upgrade, some additional wiring for integration and some provisions of the wireless network through the Wireless Access Point (WAP) in or near the cockpit. Teledyne’s main customer, Austrian Airways, has installed the system in its full fleet, and is working on trials with airlines in the U.S. “We’re entertaining trials on all commercial aircraft types,” says Murray Skelton, director of business development. If a customer already has the GroundLink Comm+ system, the AID+ software, WAP and wireless kit are provided free for the trial. Teledyne is also adding a satellite communications product in February 2017.
3. Precise Flight Plans
Company: GE Aviation
Specifications: On March 8, Alaska Airlines used GE Aviation’s flight management technology on Flight 870 to help Capt. Hal Andersen position the Boeing 737-900ER so that the passengers could experience a solar eclipse in real time, instead of missing it by 25 min. during the flight’s usual scheduled departure. The flight management technology helped with the challenging latitude and longitudes over the ocean to maintain required arrival to each waypoint within 2 sec. The flight management system is also on the Airbus A320, A330 and A340 as well as U.S., UK, Indian and Japanese military aircraft.
4. Information at the Pilot’s Fingertips
Company: UTC Aerospace Systems
Specifications: UTC Aerospace Systems’ OpsInsight Electronic Flight Folder (EFF) connects the pilot or user to the aircraft through a Tablet Interface Module (TIM) and aircraft interface device (AID) architecture, integrating flight planning, avionics data, flight performance tracking and weather data. The preflight features include flight plan reviews and electronic approval. During the flight, real-time performance data and information can be viewed in split screens, and post-flight features include post-flight reports and approvals as well as historical performance comparisons and user input for flight report notes.
5. Clean-Sheet Controls
Company: Rockwell Collins
Specifications: New cockpit control systems have typically been designed from the existing previous mechanical structures, but Rockwell Collins is looking to develop such systems from a clean slate, optimizing the systems’ envelope and cost standpoint. Although the company has offered pilot control systems for 10 years—including controls that artificially generate a mechanical feel to the control wheel with redundant position and force sensor assemblies, stall warnings, jam protection and passive or active side sticks—Paul Barnes, director of business development, says that by working directly with aircraft manufacturers on clean-sheet aircraft platforms, Rockwell Collins’s control systems in 10 years will look and feel completely different than the industry standard today. Rockwell Collins also offers a learning management system for instructor-led training courses and customer service
engineers for field support services.
6. Optimal Navigation and Flight Planning
Company: Universal Avionics
Specifications: Universal Avionics’ satellite-based augmentation system-flight management system (SBAS-FMS) offers navigation with an internal SBAS GPS receiver to improve GPS-derived position information, performance-based navigation to improve fuel efficiency and reduce delays at airports, as well as meet FAA Next-Gen mandates for 2020. The FMS flight-planning function includes features such as built-in safeguard of entry of list-reference selections to reduce errors. The universal flight-planning Windows-based software allows the pilot to create routes, waypoints, departures, arrivals and approaches that can be accessed offline. The systems are certified on more than 50 aircraft types, including the Airbus A300, Boeing 737-200/300/400/800 and 747. Horizon Airlines, WestJet, Jazz and Ravn Alaska are some of the SBAS-FMS users.