Pilot's Guide to Avionics 2015-16 Edition - 53
ting on the air stair, in the back cabin or at a table in a
hangar sipping a warm beverage. It's all done via Wi-Fi.
At Rockwell Collins, the new-aircraft owners of
ProLine Fusion flight decks - Gulfstreams, Globals,
Learjets and others - enjoy a dramatically powerful, operationally flexible and interface-friendly system - one
that can download and install wireless updates of all
flight-related databases and maintenance information,
globally when networked with Rockwell Collins Ascend
Flight Information Solutions. Happiness is never handling a data card or thumb drive to know the panel's
brains received the latest memory update.
The general aviation industry seems interested in
establishing some standards. At a recent RTCA (Radio
Technical Commission for Aeronautics) symposium,
members caught up with work currently underway by
the ARINC Software Data Loader Subcommittee toward
creating and upgrading today's current standards for
high-speed software data loading and high-density
storage media for the interfaces between software data
loaders and the target hardware. Since this issue landed a place at the table three decades ago, the medium
for database and other software updates evolved more
rapidly than anyone expected.
In the past, the media for the software changes had
to be physically delivered to be loaded into the hardware - initially via floppy disks, then compact discs
and then on to miniaturized memory cards. The group
hopes to establish some ground-level standards for
storage and compatibility in an industry where regulatory inertia lags innovation by years. Today's so-called
thumb drives boast capacities into the hundreds of
But even loaders for those miniaturized storage cards
become moot in the face of a wireless option operable
remotely via a tablet or smartphone. Some look at localarea Wi-Fi, others via Internet-based cloud storage of
data and Bluetooth of 4G communications links.
new options, but better performance?
Remember 900 megahertz cordless home phone
systems? If you're not that old, you may be old enough
to remember 2.4 gigahertz ... and Bluetooth. These
technologies remain in-use today in consumer products,
for home-entertainment systems, wireless speakers and
more, including aviation headsets connected wirelessly to
the aircraft intercom.
From initially interfacing with mobile phones and entertainment players, wireless technologies in audio-control
panels now support the most-common piece of cockpit
audio gear: the headset. Multiple interface options exist,
some that allow adapting an existing headset, others with
the capability built into the headset.
Now about those old 2.4 GHz phones of years back
... this technology offers one option to cut your cords
employing the technology. One company, EQ1 Wireless
Communications, pitches 2.4 GHz as a more reliable and
stable alternative to Bluetooth.
EQ1 Wireless Communications offers multiple 2.4
MHz-based options for its products - ones with the wireless hardware integral to the headset, another that lets
owners adapt an existing headset for wireless use. Both
options connect to the audio panel through a channelhopping 2.4 MHz adapter that simply plugs into the aircraft panel jacks to the audio panel.
The factory pairs the headsets and/or adapters before
shipping. This makes their use totally plug-and-play, according to the company. The company offers packages
that pair multiple headsets through one aircraft adapter.
EQ1's approach leaves users free to choose the company's Bluetooth adapter for mobile phone use in addition
to the wireless audio-panel interface.
Long-life lithium-ion-technology batteries provide
power for the headset and headset adapters. The batteries can be quickly recharged through a wall adapter or
more slowly through a hot USB connection to a computer
or a battery-refresh package popular today with mobilecommunications devotees.
The connected panel and other invisible links
Through five separate wireless apps, an iPad can access MyFlightPath, MyCMC, MyGDC, Connected for Pilatus, and INDS, the database management program.
Aspen Avionics' clever CG100 Connected Gateway
hardware already leads the race for the idea of a common
gateway available to all the avionics makers. The box
offers utility for owners of Avidyne and BendixKing, Honeywell and Garmin, and others.
The appeal stems from the trend of pilots using one of
the many excellent flight-planning software packages on
the tablet - generally an iPad - yet still face the process
of programming the GPS or flight management system
with that flight plan.
Aspen's CG100 Connected Gateway works with virtually all the approved GPS navigators enabling the pilot
to wirelessly upload the same flight plan directly into the
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