Dec 6, 2023
Universal Avionics (UA), an Elbit Systems company, has successfully completed initial flight tests of its NexGen, software-based interactive Flight Management System (i-FMS). The flight tests were conducted in Austria on a government-owned Bell 212 helicopter as part of a joint effort with Elbit to improve flight management and navigation capabilities for the customer. The i-FMS adds onto mission computers delivered by Elbit and is controlled using the existing Human Machine Interface operated by the customer.
Today, operators face increasingly complex airworthiness requirements for highly accurate and reliable positioning procedures and routes, enabled by GNSS (Global Navigation Satellite System). This includes RNAV (Area Navigation), RNP (Required Navigation Procedures) approaches, and vertical navigation (VNAV) support through all phases of flight. The goal of this flight test campaign was to enable these NextGen capabilities to be used by the customer within civilian airspace without special handling by Air Traffic Control.
The crew of the AB-212 helicopter performed tactical drills in and around civilian airspace, demonstrating holding patterns and floating waypoints. Test flights consisted of navigation sorties to utilize the upgraded features of the i-FMS, including loading and flying standard instrument departure and arrival routes (SID/STAR) of various types, with RNAV to and from heliports and airports. Utilizing actual and required navigation performance (ANP/RNP) capabilities, the system provided VNAV guidance in the climb, cruise, and descent phases of flight. A second flight test was completed in October to further improve the system's capabilities.
“This collaboration brings innovative upgrades and efficiencies for mission-driven operations to meet airworthiness requirements,” said Dror Yahav, Chief Executive Officer at Universal Avionics. “By combining civil and military mission management without special handling by the ATC, customers can take advantage of state-of-the-art, efficient flight capabilities.”
About the Interactive Flight Management System (i-FMS)
The i-FMS is a software-based function designed around flexible and open architecture standards for hosting on a variety of hardware platforms. Modular, the i-FMS enables customers to specify future functionalities incrementally. Without the need for its own user interface, it uses the existing system to call subroutines of the guidance, mission management, etc. Future developments of the i-FMS application will integrate wearable head-up displays such as SkyLens™ to project waypoints and information from the FMS into the real world. This Augmented Reality will enable pilots, for example, to interact with features through head/eye tracking and a selection button on the aircraft throttle.