From ADS-B, to state-of-the-art glass cockpits, to expanding cabin connectivity options, Stéphane Fymat, Vice President, Marketing & Product Management, BendixKing spoke with AvBuyer to discuss all things hot in avionics…
Cockpit and cabin avionics are a ripe topic at this time with technological advancements and regulatory mandates driving many of the advances in General and Business Aviation aircraft today. Here’s what Stéphane Fymat of BendixKing had to say on the subject…
AvBuyer: Regarding ADS-B, have the avionics OEMs such as BendixKing released all the solutions they’re going to onto the market, or are new solutions for new models still in the pipeline?
Fymat: Speaking for BendixKing, we are continuing to release new solutions for new models to the market. Just last week, we obtained the STC for our CNI 5000 to be installed in the Citation Bravo. We also continue to seek new STCs for our MST 70B. And before 2020, we will release a successor to the KT 74 that will include an optional integrated position source and ADS-B In.
All our ADS-B transponders are slide-in replacements for their predecessors that reuse the mounting trays, wiring harnesses and antennas. This dramatically reduces the installation cost and aircraft downtime. In some cases, it can even be performed as a field upgrade at the owner’s FBO, avoiding the need to ferry the aircraft to another airport.
I’d like to remind aircraft owners that both FAA and EASA leadership has made it clear that they are not budging from their respective dates in 2020.
In the US, if you want to fly in Class C airspace, within 30 nautical miles of Class B airspace, above 10,000 feet MSL, or above 3,000 feet MSL along the US coastline in the Gulf of Mexico, you will need ADS-B.
We hear from many of our dealers that they have such a high backlog of ADS-B installation work that owners are waiting for months to get their aircraft upgraded. We strongly recommend owners and operators begin planning their upgrades now, and have their aircraft scheduled for the upgrade no later than July 2019.
That will ensure that their aircraft is upgraded before the deadline and avoid last minute “surge pricing” that could cost operators thousands.
Stéphane Fymat, Vice President, Marketing & Product Management, BendixKing
AvBuyer: We heard that many operators who are acting on ADS-B are tending not to simply opt for an ADS-B Out solution but are choosing full panel retrofits. Is that what you’re seeing in today’s market?
Fymat: Yes, indeed, we are seeing this too. The ADS-B mandate is the catalyst for operators to also address issues with the obsolescence of other avionics equipment in their aircraft.
These operators figure that if they’re going to open-up their instrument panel, they might as well do it once instead of twice, installing ADS-B and upgrading their other avionics at the same time.
This is exactly what one European operator I know of is doing. He’s upgrading his entire fleet of 12 aircraft from a mixture of analog gauges and EFIS systems using old CRT display technology to BendixKing’s AeroVue.
So, in addition to ADS-B compliance this operator will get synthetic vision, airport moving maps, interactive graphical flight planning, a flight management system with flight director and coupled vertical navigation, a new all-digital three-axis autopilot, and heads-up display symbology right on the primary flight display.
All of this will reduce pilot workload, increase safety and reduce maintenance costs and aircraft downtime.
xVue for experimental aircraft is representative of intuitive interfaces that hide unnecessary complexity
AvBuyer: What stands out to you about the way today’s glass cockpit panels have evolved? Where do you see them heading into the future?
Fymat: Today’s glass cockpit panels have been an integrating force in avionics, as avionics designers continue to add capabilities into one screen, while removing the panoply of separate physical components from the panel.
However, as that has occurred, glass panels have become more and more complicated, which can lead to pilots being overloaded with data – not all of it actionable information, and not necessarily increasing safety.
If you think about it, today’s student pilot sees the same panel as a high-time instrument-rated pilot. The student pilot doesn’t need all of this information. It actually hinders learning basic airmanship such as “looking out the window”.
I am of course fully in favor of glass cockpits, but I think they will evolve in the future to have more intuitive interfaces that hide unnecessary complexity and are more natural for the pilot to interact with them.
Speaking for BendixKing, you can begin to see that with our new xVue Touch primary flight display, an attractive touchscreen for experimental aircraft. We eschewed the multiple levels of menus and sub-menus of other avionics solutions on the market and made it so that any critical function is accessible within two touches, and all functions within four touches.
We continue to pursue this design philosophy as we develop our future glass cockpit systems. I often make the comparison to today’s automobiles, that are jam-packed with the most advanced technologies available, and yet their dashboards are as simple as ever.
I believe that aviation is also heading that way.
Another area of evolution that I see is in connectivity. Glass cockpits are evolving to be connected systems, participating in an aerial network to send and receive information.
Tomorrow’s General Aviation pilots will send and receive automated pilot reports (PIREPs) without ever having to call it in, obtain continuously updated weather information in their electronic flight bag (EFB) on their computer tablet and on their multi-function display anywhere in the world - not just in the US.
I can even envision a future where even smaller aircraft interact with air traffic control using the equivalent of text messages (data link) rather than radio calls. At BendixKing, we have pioneered in-flight connectivity for turbine and light jet aircraft with AeroWave.
We continue to push in that direction and see a day where every aircraft – from a single-engine piston aircraft through to a business jet will be constantly connected to the internet for mission-critical operations via a combination of ground-based and satellite-based networks.
AvBuyer: It’s not all about the cockpit, of course. There have been many developments in connectivity. We’re seeing more solutions arrive that address connectivity for the cabins of smaller jets. What are some of the breakthroughs seen in this arena lately, and what’s the ultimate goal?
Fymat: The ultimate goal is to give passengers the same connectivity in the air as they have on the ground – at home, in the office or on their cell phone, at a comparable fixed price.
Passengers should be able to stream movies, participate in video conference calls, download large files and do anything else they desire just as they would on the ground.
I believe this will become possible with the upcoming proliferation of connectivity solutions, both ground-based as well as satellite-based, further increasing capacity and driving down price.
In addition, many of these satellite-based networks are aiming to solve a much bigger problem than aircraft connectivity, they aim to make the internet available everywhere around the world.
Once in place, that network will have a scale that is far greater than today’s satellite-based networks, and that will drive down cost. Aircraft, in turn, will be able to benefit from that scale and receive high bandwidth connectivity at reasonable prices.
At BendixKing, we are contributing to that movement by further developing our AeroWave product, a satellite modem, to work with multiple connectivity modes and drive down its cost such that almost any owner or operator can afford it.
BendixKing's AeroWave antenna fitted to a Cessna Citation Mustang Entry-Level jet
AvBuyer: Can you ever see a solution arriving that will bring the best of Ku- and Ka-band internet to smaller jets?
Fymat: Yes, but it will take time. The technical issue is the requirement of directional antennas for Ku and Ka systems with today’s technologies are too large for the smaller airframes and the costs are also prohibitively high.
We will ultimately need to see a breakthrough in antenna technology to bring Ku and Ka solutions to smaller airframes.