Astronautics Offers Tailored Upgrades

Astronautics completed a Badger avionics retrofit program on a fleet of 14 P-3 aircraft for the U.S. Customs and Border Protection.

Astronautics “is pursuing a lot of opportunities” in the Asia-Pacific region, President Chad Cundiff says. The Oak Creek, Wisconsin-based avionics company, which produces the RoadRunner, Ibex and Badger electronic flight instrument display families, said retrofits are becoming increasingly attractive to operators looking to extend the lives and performance of heritage fleets.

“We have a lot of active discussions and there are many airframes out there in the region,” said Cundiff, who added “there are a number of countries out there where we will be announcing programs.”

RoadRunner is a drop-in digital replacement for 5-in. electromechanical displays, primarily for the helicopter market, while Ibex is a lightweight, passively cooled, semi-smart display system. The Badger is a fully integrated display suite that provides a complete flight deck for OEMs as well as the retrofit of trainers, transports and helicopters. The company recently launched a third-generation Badger system with additional video capabilities, an open interface architecture and touch-screen capability.

The company said at the Singapore Airshow it is completing a full cockpit modernization of a Peruvian Air Force Lockheed L-100 with the Badger system under the service’s avionics upgrade program (AUP). The package, which is a follow-up to earlier retrofits for Peru, includes six 6 x 8-in. electronic flight instrument/engine instrument and caution advisory system displays with dual engine data concentrator units. As part of the AUP, Astronautics said it also is leading the systems integration of the flight management system, GPS and autopilot/flight director from other suppliers, along with a complete suite of navigation and communication radios.

“In this modification, it goes from 40 round dials to six displays, plus we cleaned the up wiring and the systems. It really does have more diagnostic capability, and it provides a life extension as it allows them to fly globally,” explained Cundiff.

Astronautics also announced it has completed a Badger avionics retrofit program on a fleet of 14 Lockheed P-3 long-range tracker and airborne-early-warning aircraft operated by U.S. Customs and Border Protection. The suite of four 6 x 8-in. multifunction displays—two primary flight and two navigation—runs on software ported over from the legacy displays to the Badger system to minimize development costs and required training. Astronautics also designed and manufactured adapter harnesses for equipment testing and installation integration.

“There’s still plenty of these older birds [like P-3s/C-130s] flying, and there will be people operating them into the 2030s. This gives them communications, navigation and surveillance/air traffic management capability and gets them up to speed with area navigation,”  noted Cundiff. “It also gives them the ability to integrate new safety sensors, new radars and automatic dependent surveillance-broadcast, so you get a lot with the upgrades.”

India’s Directorate General of Civil Aviation meanwhile has validated the FAA supplemental type certificate for the Astronautics RoadRunner system for A109E helicopters.

Guy Norris

Guy is a Senior Editor for Aviation Week, covering technology and propulsion. He is based in Colorado Springs.