Avionics Updates And Advances

Challenger 604 Pro Line Fusion update
Nextant Aerospace has received FAA supplemental type certificate approval of a software upgrade for Collins Pro Line Fusion avionics on Bombardier Challenger 604 business jets. Credit: Nextant Aerospace

Aircraft manufacturers and suppliers are breathing new life and capability into existing platforms with avionics hardware and software updates, and introducing more compact systems for future advanced air mobility (AAM) vehicles.

Challenger 604 Fusion Software Upgrade
Nextant Aerospace has received FAA supplemental type certificate (STC) approval of a software upgrade for Collins Pro Line Fusion avionics on Bombardier Challenger 604 business jets.

The software upgrade provides added avionics capabilities to enhance safety and situational awareness. Cleveland-based Nextant Aerospace is making the upgrade available at no charge for current Challenger 604 Pro Line Fusion operators.

Validations by the European Union Aviation Safety Agency, Transport Canada and other non-U.S. regulatory agencies were in progress, which will expand the STC to non-U.S. operators.

Pro Line Fusion software as originally certified did not include features such as Flight Management System (FMS)-predicted performance and calculated thrust and V-speeds, which already existed on the Challenger 604 Pro Line 4-equipped aircraft. Operators selecting the initial Pro Line Fusion installation have had to manually calculate thrust, V-speeds and performance numbers, which consumes pilots’ time and attention.

The software upgrade provides the Challenger 604 with FMS-calculated thrust and V-speed functionality as well as FMS-predicted performance, similar to the Precision Plus mode that existed on the earlier Pro Line 4 avionics. 

The update includes a new FMS vertical situation display for enhanced situational awareness; Aeronautical Telecommunication Network Baseline 1 (ATN-B1) controller pilot data link communications functionality to meet European and overseas mandates; and RNP AR .3 approach functionality which further improves the aircraft’s safety and operational capabilities.

Nextant Aerospace has also received FAA approval of Fusion Integrated AutoThrottle Compatibility with the upgraded Fusion software. The separate FAA approval ensures that an optionally installed Nextant autothrottle system on many Fusion-equipped Challenger 604s remains operational after the jet is upgraded with new software.

“This is a perfect solution for all Challenger 604 owners and operators. Existing Challenger 604 Fusion operators have been awaiting this upgrade for years and can now upgrade their Fusion software free of charge,” said Kevin Himelright, Nextant Aerospace director of engineering and certification.

“Challenger 604 operators still using Pro Line 4 avionics now have a suitable upgrade path to address issues of obsolescence in their flight deck without compromising the functionality of their aircraft. The ability for their pilots to operate the aircraft is now drastically improved.”

Citation Mustang Avionics Updates

Garmin Citation Mustang update
Credit: Garmin International

Garmin has received European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) approval of G1000 NXi flight deck updates for Cessna Citation Mustang light jets that allow operators to upgrade many key avionics systems. 

Available for both fielded G1000 NXi installations and for operators looking to upgrade their aircraft, the updates include the addition of the GWX 75 advanced weather radar and new GSR 56 Iridium satellite data link weather and communications capability. Another enhancement allows operators to retain dual diversity transponder systems in addition to having an ADS-B “In” solution with the GTX 345DR transponder.

The GWX 75 is an all-digital weather radar system featuring a high-definition color palette comprised of 16 colors, four times more color than on the original GWX 68, to provide owners and operators with more detailed contouring of significant weather and storm cell dynamics. Optional ground clutter suppression and turbulence detection are also available and provide enhanced clarity for a cleaner image by focusing on real weather threats.

The Citation Mustang upgrade is available at Textron Aviation Service Centers.

Garmin Installation Packages

Jettech installation packages
Credit: Jettech

Aviation aftermarket design firm Jettech now offers an enhanced equipment package for its supplement type certified (STC) Garmin GTN 650/750 multi-function touchscreen display installations on Cessna Citation 525 series aircraft.

Along with the available Garmin GFC 600 digital autopilot, Jettech has added Garmin GSR 56 satellite radio with antenna, GDR 66 transceiver, GWX 75 weather radar, Garmin USB ports, Shadin AIS-380 fuel flow adaptor, Bose headphone jacks and a pedestal-mount Jupiter glove box.

The installation is engineered for an autopilot-coupled LPV WAAS approach and includes a voice-activated intercom and automatic dependent surveillance (ADS-B) In and Out. The GFC 600 autopilot combines features such as Garmin electronic stability and protection, under-speed and over-speed protection, automatic return-to-level (LVL) mode, airspeed climb and decent (IAS) mode, flight director (FD) command cues and vertical navigation (VNAV) mode, which requires a GTN series navigator.

The original STC, now with the additional equipment package, covers Citation jets with serial numbers 0001 through 0359. It includes a fully integrated GPS/NAV/COM suite, Garmin GTX 33/3000/3X5 transponders, replacing the existing “hot mike” audio panel with the integrated voice activated GMA 35 audio panel, GA35/37 antennas, ADS-B In and Out, satellite weather and music, according to Jettech. https://marketplace.aviationweek.com/company/jettech

Small UAV Satcom System

Honeywell Small UAV Satcom System
Credit: Honeywell Aerospace

Slovenian manufacturer Pipistrel Aircraft has selected Honeywell’s compact Small UAV Satcom System for its Surveyor light special mission airplane and unmanned Nuuva V20 and V300 hybrid-electric vertical-takeoff-and-landing (eVTOL) cargo aircraft.

The Small UAV Satcom System, a satellite terminal, uses Inmarsat’s Swiftbroadband L-band service and weighs 1 kg (2.2 lb.). The system is 30% lighter than competing options, customizable, and can be installed in different locations on an aircraft to accommodate a wide range of platforms, said Honeywell. It facilitates global coverage, real-time video streaming to the ground and beyond-visual-line-of-sight operations by a remote pilot.

Production of the Small UAV Satcom System is another example of Honeywell’s push into the developing advanced air mobility (AAM) market. Pipistrel’s Nuuva V300 is a long-range, large-capacity, autonomous UAV designed to carry loads up to 460 kg (1,010 lb.) for more than 300 km (186 mi). Its smaller sibling—the Nuuva V20—shares the same architecture with the V300, but is designed to serve as a lighter cargo transport carrying loads of up to 20 kg.

Other Honeywell products designed for AAM vehicles include the Compact Fly-by-Wire System selected by Pipistrel for the Nuuva family as well as by Lilium and Vertical Aerospace for their eVTOL air taxis and by Eviation for its Alice electric regional aircraft. Honeywell is also providing cockpit avionics to Lilium and Vertical. Its BendixKing business unit will supply its AeroVue Touch displays for the Alice flight deck.

“Honeywell’s small UAV Satcom system is a game-changer for small or medium-sized unmanned aircraft, such as the Nuuva cargo or Surveyor aircraft, that previously couldn’t be equipped with satellite communications,” said Stéphane Fymat, Honeywell Aerospace general manager for unmanned aerial systems and urban air mobility.

“Now, they have access to everything we’ve come to expect from the large-aircraft experience, like global connectivity or fleet monitoring — but it’s been packaged in a size that is conducive to a much smaller aerial vehicle.”