When you transition from the piston world to fly turbine equipment, you expect big changes in powerplant management and airframe look and feel. But there's a lot happening on the inside as well - although with the recent upgrades to primary flight displays (PFDs) and multifunction displays (MFDs) in new light general aviation aircraft cockpits, there may be less change in store for you than was the case with pilots making the move a decade ago. Development in avionics on the top end continues, though, expanding aircraft capability and ease of use, especially for single-pilot operators. We'll take you through the current cadre of cockpit systems on the market. But stay tuned for more - from companies such as L3 Communications Avionics Systems, which will announce the features of its SmartDeck integrated cockpit system this fall. The race is on.
Primus Apex, under development by Honeywell, is an integrated flight deck aimed at the turboprop and light jet market. Apex includes two PFDs and two MFDs and full integration of various safety sensors, such as radar and enhanced ground proximity warning systems. The system uses MEMS (micro electromechanical sensors) and solid-state pressure sensors for attitude and air data information and features a digital engine operating system, flight director, and autopilot. Apex is slated to be factory equipment in a new variant of the Pilatus PC-12, currently in development.
Honeywell's Primus Epic is a modular avionics suite for medium to large business jets. Epic features four flexible 13-by-10-inch displays that are scalable, allowing the pilot to resize charts and engine instrumentation for easier viewing. The design's architecture opens a path for upgradability for fly-by-wire systems in the future. Gulfstream's PlaneView avionics system includes Epic, as do the Dassault Falcon EASy and the Hawker 4000 flight decks.
Rockwell Collins' ProLine 21 is an integrated flight deck for turbine aircraft ranging from turboprops to super midsize business jets. Launched in 2000 with the Cessna Citation CJ1, the avionics system features three or four PFDs and MFDs in various combinations and screen sizes that are custom fit to the aircraft model. The Pro Line 21 system is factory equipment in the CJ1, CJ2, and CJ3 (with three displays); Bombardier Challenger 300 (with four displays); Gulfstream G150 (four displays); Hawker 800XP (four displays); and Beechcraft Premier I (three displays).
Pro Line 21s also feature shop-loadable software, which enables upgrades to systems in the field, including recent updates that bring datalink weather and electronic approach and airport charts to older systems. Also, retrofit systems are available for the Challenger 601, Dassault Falcon 20 and 50, Hawker 800, and the recently announced installation in the Navy's UC-12 King Airs.
The Garmin G1000 integrated flight deck represents a stepping stone for pilots starting in certain new single- or twin-engine piston aircraft and planning a move up to light jets. The system incorporates a PFD and an MFD, with a second co-pilot-side PFD in its turbine installations. Displays can measure 10 inches, 12 inches, or 15 inches (diagonal), depending on the aircraft application. The integrated system also incorporates the Garmin GFC 700 digital autopilot, and an engine instrumentation and monitoring system, as well as Jeppesen's ChartView electronic charts.
Most notably in Cessna piston singles on up through the Citation Mustang, the two-screen G1000 (in singles) is expected to smooth transition times into the Mustang very light jet, which features three displays. The three-screen G1000 is also offered as a retrofit option in Beechcraft King Air C90s, with more applications on the horizon.
Avidyne led the way in large-format PFDs and MFDs for single-engine aircraft with its FlightMax Entegra avionics suite, and it continues to push forward into the turboprop market with the Envision cockpit displays, part of the Alliant inte-grated flight deck retrofit program.
The two-display systems use a PFD and an MFD in either portrait or landscape format; the three-screen systems place an MFD between the pilot's and co-pilot's PFDs.
The Entegra features open architecture and brings in navigation information from standalone units, such as the Garmin GNS 430.
Entegra is factory equipment in Cirrus SR20 and SR22 piston singles, as well as the Piper Meridian turboprop; the Alliant retrofit supplemental type certificate (STC) is currently in place for the King Air 90 and 200 and in development for the Cessna Conquest II. The Alliant program also features an S-Tec IntelliFlight 2100 digital flight control system.
Chelton Flight Systems debuted its FlightLogic electronic flight information system (EFIS) as part of the FAA's Capstone project in Alaska in 2000, where more than 150 commercial aircraft use the EFIS as part of a GPS-based means of separating aircraft via automatic dependent surveillance broadcast (ADS-B).
The flexible displays typically are installed in two-, three-, or four-screen layouts, and each has full reversionary capability (meaning it can display PFD or MFD content as needed). The EFIS features synthetic vision, with terrain contouring on the PFD.
The aftermarket system was certificated with an approved model list that encompasses more than 650 different aircraft makes and models, including a Piper Meridian JetProp conversion and several Citation models.
Sagem Avionics has produced several integrated cockpit display systems (known in company nomenclature as "ICDS"), with the ICDS-6, ICDS-8, and ICDS-10 displays filling out the line. The dash number refers to the screen size: The -6 is a 6.4-inch diagonal display, while the -8 is 8.4 inches, and the -10 measures 10.4 inches. Each display can function as a PFD, including aircraft attitude and air data (altitude, airspeed, and vertical speed) and navigational information in a horizontal situation indicator (HSI) format. Displays can also function as MFDs, with moving map information or engine monitoring systems.
The company is in the final stages of extending the STCs on the ICDS line to turbine aircraft. A Rockwell Commander 690 is undergoing conversion from a conventional panel to one featuring four 10-inch displays (the ICDS-10s), with dual PFDs and dual MFDs that include radar and engine monitoring, as well as traffic, weather, and caution advisory systems.
Sandel Avionics has produced aftermarket electronic attitude indicators and HSIs for several years for the piston and turboprop markets.
Recently, Sandel won an STC for its SA4550 primary flight display that takes this line to the next level. The SA4550 is backlit with LEDs and is paired with the SA4500 multifunction display. It accepts input from a wide variety of gyro sources and is equipped with a flight director display function.
The STC covers both Part 23 and 25 operations and is suitable for installation in Cessna Citations (the first installation is in the company's Citation), Dassault Falcons, Beech-craft King Airs, and Gulfstream aircraft, particularly those already using traditional 4-ATI or 5-ATI electromechanical cockpit displays.
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