A Tale of Two 'Middle-Aged' Aircraft

Need a reason to upgrade the flight deck?
Have you found yourself in one of these situations?

Scenario #1

As the sun sets in Teterboro, we meet for a ride-along with Tom in a super midsize jet. Reviewing his flight plan printout, we are denied the requested routing – we note it’s a bumpy day over the Atlantic, but the lack of FANS (Future Airspace Navigation System) on his flight deck means he won’t get the preferred altitude for a smooth ride. In addition, his aircraft maintenance manager is currently replacing a CRT screen that failed late this afternoon. The departure won’t be on time tonight – despite best efforts, things are not working to plan.

When finally taxiing out, the weather worsens locally, and we see Tom expertly picking a line through the thunderstorms, but he has to delegate more work than usual to the co-pilot with the constant gain and tilt changes needed to evaluate the convective threats. Once above the Atlantic, Tom settles down to provide verbal position reports, dealing with static and crackling HF radio. Coming into landing and sorting through the paper charts, the non-optimum flight level has left him with minimal fuel reserves. Tom tells us he is not looking forward to the return trip in two days; forecasts of moderate turbulence is expected from that same cold front we left behind and we won’t be able to fly above 36,000 feet.

The good news is that the boss might now be ready to finance those upgrades Tom has been asking for.

Scenario #2

After arriving in Europe, we embark on a trip with a pilot, Adam, on another business aircraft fresh out of a major check. While we are walking out to the plane, Adam receives a call from his dispatcher confirming that the latest FMS and charts databases have already been delivered to the aircraft, wirelessly. He is also instructed by the dispatcher to check his tablet to ensure that the latest flight plan that has been filed. He browses weather and NOTAMS along with his flight plan on the tablet.  Adam pushes the flight plan from the tablet to the FMS. 

Rolling out towards the runway, Adam’s flight deck seamlessly displays the airport chart and aircraft position. The synthetic vision system (SVS) display provides a stunningly realistic view of the runway environment and on the airport chart, the aircraft symbol and highlighted runway shows that we are on the runway matching the flight plan.

Even though there are thunderstorms like during our flight yesterday, the automatic radar means we can select our most efficient route without manipulating the radar control panel. In cruise, ATC re-routes are easy to accomplish, as well as tuning to the different  Aircraft Control Centers (ACCs), all accomplished by touchscreen graphical flight planning tasks. 

I notice Adam deploys his head-up display (HUD) for descent and approach.  He tells me the SVS image is crisp and, despite a hazy evening, he picks out the airport dome on the SVS through the HUD. As we approach the terminal area, the airport dome fades away and the SVS image gives way to the enhanced vision system (EVS) showing a clear runway below. The cloud layer obstructs our view, but the EVS image gives a great picture of the airport environment, increasing awareness in this critical flight phase. The first officer really appreciates how easy and quick it is to tune the approach and tower frequencies through voice commands. His scan pattern to monitor the approach was not even interrupted by the tuning tasks as all the comm frequencies are right there on the primary flight display in front of him.

Adam appears content with the results of another stress-free and uneventful flight.  Being able to focus on flying again has really been a pleasure ever since the old avionics system was modernized at the last big maintenance event. 

Following both flights, we make a note to introduce Adam to Tom at EBACE 2015!

See you in Geneva,

Aaron ChildAaron Child is responsible for marketing business aviation avionics in the regions of Europe, Middle East, and Africa.  He has been working for Rockwell Collins for over 13 years.  Having graduated from Kettering University with a degree in Electrical Engineering, he has worked in manufacturing, product development, and systems engineering roles prior to joining the marketing team. 

Passionate about most everything aviation related, Aaron holds a private pilot certificate.

Contact Aaron: aaron.child@rockwellcollins.com


Story posted: May 11, 2015

Join us

Follow Collins Aerospace on

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • LinkedIn
  • YouTube
  • Instagram