Worth the Wait — FAA’s New EFVS Rule FAR 91.176

Challenger 605 taken by Read Photography at the Collins hanger CR.Pro Line 21 advanced deck showing SVS and ADS-B out airspace bundle.

The FAA has released the long-awaited Enhanced Flight Vision System (EFVS) rule FAR 91.176 that will bring numerous benefits to aviation. More specifically, the rule will expand applicability of EFVS for business aircraft owners and operators and introduce, for the first time, similar benefits to the air transport industry.  Up until now, other than by exemption, the air transport sector has not been able to participate in the operational benefits EFVS affords. This has all changed.

The new rule is lengthy, so let’s  highlight some of the impacts of the rule change.

Main benefits to FAA’s new EFVS rule:

  • Enhances low-visibility flight and ground operations
  • Increases access, efficiency and throughput at many airports when low visibility is a factor
  • Reduces infrastructure necessary to support low visibility operations
  • Provides a real-time display of the outside world in low-visibility conditions using imaging sensors
  • Enables descent below Decision Altitude/Decision Height (DA/DH) or Minimum Descent Altitude (MDA) in low visibilities on a greater number of approach procedure types (precision, approach procedure with vertical guidance (APV) and non-precision)

The comprehensive re-structuring and implementation of FAR 91.176 impacts numerous rules and guidance documents that provide a better cross reference. These cross reference materials make the review and learning of this material much easier than in the past. (The complete rule can be found on the Federal Register.)

The FAA 91.176 rule summary:

Establishes new landing minima

  • Permits operators to use an EFVS to touchdown and rollout 91.176(a)
  • Relocates EFVS to 100’ operations to 91.176(b)

Permits operators who conduct EFVS operations under parts 121, 125 or 135 to use EFVS-equipped aircraft

  • Dispatch/release under IFR
  • Allow those operators to initiate and continue an approach when destination weather is at or below authorized visibility minimums on the Instrument Approach Plate (IAP)

Establishes pilot training and recent flight experience requirements for EFVS operators

  • The pilot flight crew member or any other person who manipulates the controls of an aircraft during EFVS operation meets the training, recent flight experience and refresher training requirements in FAR 61.66 is applicable to EFVS operations
  • Provides EFVS training requirements for Part 121 and Part 135 operators   

Revises pilot compartment view certification requirements for vision systems

  • New airworthiness standards for certification of vision systems removes ‘special conditions’ that were required to certify vision systems which will speed up the certification process
  • The FAA issued Advisory Circular 90-106A, Enhanced Flight Vision Systems and Advisory Circular 20-167A, Airworthiness Approval of Enhanced Vision System, Synthetic Vision System, Combined Vision System and Enhanced Flight Vision System Equipment.  This updates these documents to support the newly released regulations

The FAA established that these rules would be performance-based and not linked to specific sensor technology. This provides a means to allow for sensor development as new sensor capabilities emerge. The applicant will demonstrate sensor performance during the EFVS certification process. With this, the FAA will manage EFVS operational minimums and approval through its authorization process. This affords a more streamlined means to respond to new technology developments.  As one reads through this material, it is apparent the FAA sets standards that will carry this technology and its operations well into the future.

Presently, EFVS is required to be displayed on a conformal, flight-path-based Head-Up Display (HUD), which displays selectable flight path angle as well as lateral and vertical approach path deviation and command guidance as appropriate for the type of approach being flown. The FAA has provided a means for the development of new display types and sensor capabilities but they will need to be vetted through a certification process similar to the current HUD-based EFVS and meet the same safety and performance standards.

This approach to implementing the new EFVS rules will guide a global process to visual-equivalent operations and provide a means to standardize international-based operations and regulatory process. The application of this comprehensive approach to implementing EFVS will secure safety, airfield throughput and airline operational benefits in all takeoff and approach operations. The FAA’s consistent implementation of these changes supports the design concept implemented decades ago of placing more capability on the airplane rather than build additional ground infrastructure.

Stay tuned as this new rulemaking progresses and operators are approved for its use.  This rulemaking could be a real game changer.

Read more about author Dean Schwab.

 

Is it really a business jet if it has no internet connection?

Businessman with laptop working on corporate jet

When traveling abroad, understanding a few basic foreign language phrases can go a long way in making it a better experience, versus not having any at all.

The same goes for internet in a business jet – even having a little bit of connectivity makes it a better experience, compared to not having it at all. In fact, many newcomers to a business jet – the very people who will drive future demand for aircraft – are a surprised to find that many aircraft don’t automatically come with some kind of internet connection.

So what is the range of your aircraft connectivity options? What’s the connectivity metaphor to knowing a few phrases, versus being a United Nations linguist? Here’s a quick breakdown of the options available today.

If you need the basics

Iridium SATCOM – Iridium is a constellation of Low Earth Orbiting (LEO) satellites that give worldwide coverage for voice services but with lower bandwidth data rates. Most aircraft can take advantage of Iridium SATCOM using a blade-mounted antenna. While this solution is versatile and relatively low cost, the low bandwidth will limit connectivity options to telephone calls and text messaging only.

If you need a little more bandwidth

Inmarsat Swift Broadband – This is currently one of the more popular and capable systems. Using a geo-stationary constellation of Inmarsat’s I-4 satellites, this option is a versatile and higher-bandwidth solution that supports a variety of internet activities across a wide variety of aircraft. Depending on the antenna fit (blade or steerable dish), data rates can get from 200 to 432kbps, or nearly 0.5Mbps. Streaming media is possible, but some smart things have to be done in the router to bond channels together and increase available speed. Router management can also increase capabilities by enabling compression software to improve efficient throughput. Because it provides safety services, SBB is a complementary solution to the options below.

If you have more passengers on board

Yonder Ku and 2Ku – The Yonder Ku option leverages the same collection of geostationary high-bandwidth satellites used for broadcast television, allowing for “office in the sky” applications. The high bandwidth allows you to send and receive email, establish VPN connections, stream video and participate in video conferencing. The Yonder Ku antenna fits larger business aircraft with room to accommodate a 30cm antenna, while the fuselage-mounted 2Ku antenna solution is used almost exclusively in air transport. This is a capable solution to consider with some limitations when transiting oceans.

If you’re traveling globally with multiple passengers

Inmarsat Ka band – Branded as JX (or Jet ConneX) in business aviation, Ka-band is made available via a worldwide platform of recently launched I-5 satellites. JX offers The highest bandwidth quoted for the satellites is up to 50Mbps, and a typical business jet antenna can expected rates of up to 15Mbps. This high-speed connectivity will allow more devices to be in use on board an aircraft at the same time.

Let’s face it. Today the world – and your passengers – speak through and with the internet. Ask yourself: will your passengers want to fly in your aircraft if it doesn’t speak their language?

Read more about author James Hardie.

Internet Access—an investment must for your business aircraft

I-5 in flight

Lots of things are really important when flying an aircraft—aerodynamics, engines, cockpit avionics—but when you consider that those are expected requirements from passengers, you start to differentiate that experience. And today, it’s seamless, reliable internet access that is changing the game and increasing operator satisfaction.

The famous psychologist Frederick Herzberg, one of the most influential names in business management, pointed out that the things which make us dissatisfied or unhappy about an experience are actually different from those things that make us happy or even excited about an experience. He called them hygiene and motivational factors.

For example, I am going to be pretty dissatisfied with my flight if my aircraft is AOG and no amount of impressive features on the aircraft is going to make up for not getting where I need to go—this is what Herzberg referred to as “hygiene.” However, once you have the basics in place, then other things can start to matter and make us say, “Wow.” The trouble is, “wow” changes all the time and becomes familiar and expected.

At the heart of nearly every business is some level of online activity, be it in the office, on a mobile device or in a car. We are much closer to a world where the ability to access the internet in flight is a basic hygiene factor for keeping passengers satisfied. For some people, it already is. While it may not be officially on the Minimum Equipment List (MEL) for safe flight operations, reliable internet access is becoming so important that if it is not going to be available, then principals will find another aircraft—just as they would if there was an engine issue.

Beyond keeping passengers satisfied, access to the internet is changing how business jets are utilized. With the ability to use the aircraft as an office, flight times can be changed to make better use of the time spent flying. For example, business jets do not have to conform to the same issues affecting commercial airliners on long-haul, eastbound transatlantic flights that are typically overnight sleeper flights (and a bad night’s sleep at that!). A business jet has a wider choice of airports for point-to-point operation. Business jets can fit into an alternative flight operation pattern to keep the aircraft passengers as productive as possible on the internet while they travel so they are prepared when they arrive at their destination.

Access to the internet on board that aircraft just helped get an even better return on the aircraft investment and that can only help any justification of what is important to have on the aircraft.

If you are still not convinced as you read this, try turning off your computer and getting any work done today. It might be fun, but it won’t last.  Everything has changed.

Read more about author James Hardie.

What do March Madness and flying have in common?

flight deck

Without a doubt, March Madness more than lived up to its name during the 2016 NCAA men’s basketball tournament. Did you predict Villanova to sweep the NCAA tournament? The craziness reached new heights during the first round of this year’s tournament as upsets were not only abundant, but incredibly major.

Looking back to 2012, when Kentucky clinched the tournament win and cut down the net, another champion was also introduced. Rockwell Collins’ Pro Line Fusion® flight deck entered into service on the Global 5000 in the final days of that tournament. Pro Line Fusion then realized additional cockpit tournament wins in other markets, something not seen by one team in basketball leagues. The Pro Line Fusion flight deck came to play on the Gulfstream 280 in the super-midsize business jet market later that year, followed by another fantastic 2014 league-changing win on the Embraer Legacy 450 and 500 business jets. Although each aircraft seeded in a league bracket of its own, the avionics winner was common, Pro Line Fusion across the board.

No, I’m not going to list out the Pro Fusion flight deck technologies available, and give you my play-by-play. Instead, I’m going to skip straight to what I consider to be my picks for the “Final Four” technologies you’ll always want as part of your flight deck:

airport dome#1 Seed- Head- up Guidance System with Synthetic Vision—game changing technology with an airport dome providing you the necessary situational awareness to land at unfamiliar destinations.

#2 Seed- ADS-B Out – Oh yes, December 31, 2019, at 11:59 p.m. is coming quick. Not equipping is like showing up to the Final Four without a basketball to play the game. No one plays.

#3 Seed- Takeoff and Landing Alerts—a technology that is almost like taking another set of eyes on board to reduce the risk of runway confusion or incursion. Yes, visuals and aural alerts help impede risk. You can’t go wrong with another set of eyes to keep you safe. A second set of eyes…that might come in handy for some of those ref calls.

#4 Seed- Split Format Displays—This is so Sweeeet. Reconfigurable displays let the crew decide what information is needed and when it’s needed. Large moving map, charts, weather, you make the call.

Four quick years have passed and now over 350 Pro Line Fusion tails are flying the organized tracks across the Atlantic and connecting between LAX and JFK meeting the business needs of many operators.

So, whether it is playing a game of basketball or flying an aircraft from LAX to JFK; it is about having the right training and tools to win the game and make your final destination with the right technologies on board.

How did your bracket fare?

Read more about author Bonnie Berg.

Pulling back the curtain on touchscreen avionics

DPP_0003_Prolinefusion_Touchscreen_crop2

Winter in the U.S. Midwest often involves plenty of time indoors. My family tends to spend a fair amount of that time watching movies, and one of our recent viewings was, “The Wizard of Oz,” which got me thinking about how the final scene can be analogous to many of us in the aviation industry.

I’ll spare you a full synopsis, but for those who have seen the movie, who can forget the famous line — “Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain!”

Technology feels a lot like that today. We all wonder, what’s really going on behind the scenes?  Just like they did in this classic movie, I’d like to pull back the curtain and show you what touchscreen avionics are all about.

Touch technology

ATM withdraw

There are actually a few different types of technologies when it comes to touchscreen. For the sake of comparison, let’s consider touchscreen interactions on an ATM machine at your local bank. If it’s like the one I use, you can touch the screen to select “Withdrawal,” “Checking,” and so on, but you are only able to interface with the system by touching predetermined locations on the screen. In effect, these are “virtual” buttons; not very different than having actual, physical buttons along each side of the screen.

In another category, let’s consider the user interface of modern smartphones and tablets. You can drag, drop, and swipe left and right. You’re able to interact with each object, regardless of location on the screen — moving it, starting a process, etc., all via a light touch. The entirety of the screen is useable and, literally, at your fingertips.

Into which category would the “touchscreen” interaction of Pro Line Fusion® fall?

First, let’s review some of the features of the avionics system’s touchscreen interface.

Resistive vs. capacitive touch
The Pro Line Fusion touchscreen uses a resistive surface, rather than capacitive.  This means that, though the interaction may be similar to today’s personal devices, the technology is different. The Pro Line Fusion system uses a resistive surface, which is when the screen senses pressure, not the electrical properties of the human body. It also means that the screen will sense only intentional touches, something that becomes important when you’re bumping around in flight. In contrast, the capacitive technology would require a pilot to touch the screen with bare skin (or a special glove with capacitive fingertips), and the screen would respond to any light touch — intentional or not.  

PFD and MFD interaction
The Pro Line Fusion touchscreen interaction is possible on all three 14-inch displays. Both Primary Flight Displays (PFD) and the Multi-Function Displays (MFD) respond to touchscreen commands.  When you consider that all three displays are also fully configurable (i.e., you can split the displays to show multiple items), you can conceivably have different PFD configurations for arrival and approach. For example, a pilot may want synthetic vision on the attitude indicator with the destination airport indicated by the airport dome, and a moving map or chart on the right of the PFD.

Relevant menus
The touchscreen interaction with the moving map is my favorite. If you see something — an airport, navaid, for example — touch it, and a menu appropriate to that object will appear.  If, for example, you see weather ahead and you want to reroute, it’s simple to touch the aircraft “Reroute”, touch the screen to create user-defined waypoints around the weather, and then touch “Exec”, and the Flight Management System (FMS) integrates the new route into the flight plan. No smoke and mirrors here, just a simple, direct way to fly.

If you’ve had the opportunity to interact with the Pro Line Fusion touchscreen via a demo unit on a trade show floor or in a Pro Line Fusion-equipped King Air, you have undoubtedly seen for yourself how closely the user interface resembles that of a modern personal device.  We’re only scratching the surface of the touchscreen capability of this avionics suite by pulling back the curtain on just a few of its features here. I hope you’re beginning to see that it’s more than a collection of “virtual” buttons, but a true touchscreen interaction.

When you pull back the curtain on touchscreen avionics, you may not find a wizard, but the true innovative mind of an engineer can be just as magical.

Read more about author Ben Gambrell.