A Better Brain For The Eclipse 500

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One week after revealing a divorce from Avidyne, Eclipse Aviation on Monday announced that Innovative Solutions & Support (IS&S), Chelton Flight Systems, Garmin, Honeywell and PS Engineering will be its new partners for the Eclipse 500's improved avionics system. Dubbed Avio NG (for next generation), the upgraded version of the very light jet's deeply integrated avionics system has been in development "for many months and is scheduled for production and delivery this summer." A hot-bench Avio NG suite is currently being evaluated, and a test Eclipse 500 will fly with the new system in "about 35 days." Eclipse promises a faster timeline for Avio NG functionality; according to Eclipse, it was Avidyne's failure to deliver functionality on time that caused the rift between the two companies. Aircraft delivered with the Avidyne avionics will be retrofitted with Avio NG by year-end. The retrofit is expected to take less than 10 days to install. [more]

According to Eclipse, Avio NG delivers significant enhancements, including a fourfold increase in mean time between failure rates for avionics, more robust systems, higher-resolution displays and more growth capability for future avionics functionality. IS&S will now provide hardware and select software for the Eclipse 500 primary and multifunction displays, while Chelton Flight has been selected to do the flight management system. Meanwhile, Garmin has been picked for its remote-mounted Mode S transponders; Honeywell for its KTR 2280 Multi Mode Digital Radios, as well as its previous selection for the RDR 2000 Weather Radar System and optional KGP 560 Terrain Awareness System; and PS Engineering for its PMA500 remote audio control system. Eclipse Aviation president and CEO Vern Raburn says customers are pleased with the change to Avio NG, adding that production will not be affected by the switch. He expects his company to deliver 402 Eclipse 500s this year (down previously from about 500 aircraft due to unrelated production problems) and just under 1,000 in 2008. Meanwhile, Eclipse is still working on obtaining a production certificate to deliver aircraft en masse, and Raburn plans to announce more news on this front in a couple of weeks.