Honeywell’s latest SVS/FMS philosophy
Matching systems and software with NextGen needs.
By Glenn Connor
Pres, Discover Technology Intl ATP, Cessna 425
Honeywell VP for Crew Interface Products Chad Cundiff aboard Honeywell’s G450 with Epic Cert Foxtrot, which now includes SV-PFD 2.0, FANS 1/A, WAAS–LPV and a new RNP 0.1 for advanced navigation.
A company’s history and success are seen not only in its current products, but its visions of tomorrow. The vision part can appear to be a simple exercise—all you have to do is predict the future.
And so the Honeywell Company, greatgrandson of Elmer Sperry, inventor of the gyro compass, is now in the process of claiming the future with both new technology and services for the bizjet community.
Honeywell VP for Crew Interface Products Chad Cundiff and other researchers discussed this new future so as to offer bizav readers an inside look at some new products and upgrades to keep pace with the new airspace.
Honeywell’s newest flightdeck systems build on the core of Primus Epic, the mainstay of many modern aircraft. Primus Apex has also come of age, centered on design to costs yet providing many of the functional elements found in the high-end Epic systems.
Primus Epic was first certified in 2003 with a path for system improvements basic in its design. Epic was the first flightdeck with large format displays in bizjets, the first with graphical flight planning—and it includes cursor controls, pulldown menus and a synthetic vision system (SVS).
Primus Epic is found in several forms—EASy for Dassault and PlaneView for Gulfstream aircraft, as well as in Cessna, Embraer, Hawker Beechcraft and AgustaWestland, and including applications in regional jets and helicopters.
And, as this year’s NBAA convention rolled around, SmartView emerged, providing a core new SVS capability to owners as they upgrade their current Epic to higher performance in the new airspace.
Primus Apex is a 3 or 4-display integrated flightdeck system found on the Pilatus PC12, Spectrum S40, Viking Twin Otter and Hafei Y12, giving an affordable application of Primus Epic. This part of Honeywell’s flightdeck products is aimed at the smaller jet or turbine aircraft, and is tailor-made for the single-pilot owner-flown aircraft.
Many new aircraft models are now beginning to make Primus Apex the choice for their flightdeck. But a good buying point is that both product lines can be upgraded without the major expense of redoing your aircraft.
Update cycles for cockpits used to be measured in decades, and often with hopes that the bill for such an event could be passed on to the next owner. But the problem for operators today is the “no fooling changing airspace” and the myriad options in navigation, departures, arrivals and service. Did I say service? Yep, if you want in early on a busy arrival, the new FAA mantra is “best equipped better served.”
Honeywell’s G450 with SmartView and Cert Foxtrot makes a night landing at IAD. Cert Foxtrot updates include SV-PFD 2.0, which provides runway markings and surface texture. SVS and displays such as airport maps and runway incursion alerts are designed to improve situation awareness.
Performance-based navigation (PBN)—the ability to navigate precisely in congested airspace, or with minimum ground infrastructure—seems to be moving to the point that preferred treatment and in what order you are may be based on how well your flightdeck is dressed.
This is of course not traditional “first come first served” airspace—it is now being driven by the demands of efficiency, both fuel and time. The nice thing is you the owner get to decide how much both are worth by the type of avionics you choose and the operational approvals you achieve.
The problem of course is how to get the new technology in without throwing away a recent flightdeck investment. For Honeywell the answer is already within Primus Epic.
Bizjet gains with new Honeywell technology
A major part of Epic’s design included a particular philosophy as well as the new technology. Most specifically, Honeywell targeted how flightdecks would be manufactured, supported and upgraded for customers who want to see at least 20 years of support.
As Cundiff points out, “Honeywell designers and early customer OEMs could see that the airspace was changing, so they wanted a path to add applications just like you do on your home computer.
This required robust hardware, a means to replace elements of the hardware if needed, and a continuous invention process for flightdeck applications.” Designing Primus Epic as a solid display and processor platform, Honeywell expanded its systems and software development dramatically.
SV-PFD 2.0 provides a HUD-like flightpath vector (white aircraft symbol) and flight director (magenta diamond) for precision flying. Terrain is shown on both the SV-PFD and TAWS display.
Cundiff says, “Once just an instrument maker, Honeywell leaned into the future and saw the demand for more software applications to run on their hardware.”
This meant developing software loadable applications with new performance rather than expensive component replacement hardware and a new wire harness as in the past.
Honeywell’s Primus Epic system was also crafted to break down the barriers of a federated avionics system, that is, complicated connections to avionics boxes with a narrow function that still needed their own LRU, power supply, etc. Primus Epic was designed to ensure large graphics power and large displays—and to be able to support new applications that pushed the limit.
However, the first advanced graphics processor capacity (AGM 1) was reached faster than expected. AGM 2 was developed and certified in 2008 to keep up with the demand of new applications like SVS, and there was a small chip-size component replacement within the AGM card in the MAU (the PC-like boxes that contain the cards of Primus Epic), no overall or cockpit redo.
So, from theory to practice, the concept worked. Honeywell designers also see the blurring of FMS and flight displays. Issues of insufficient training for novice users, or the need for lengthy training to get the maximum benefit, are the industry norm.
To get away from the old user interface concepts, Honeywell developed the graphical flight planning concept, using the MFD as a large shared display with a cursor control or FMS keyboard.
A standard FMS CDU requires a layered “pages” versus the graphical point-and-click interaction. Graphical interaction is point-and-click on the flightplan route or on the map, and it’s more intuitive and quicker to train.