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King Air Parts Obsolescence Solutions

Mark Wilken
Director of Avionics Sales

www.elliottaviation.com

A CRT with phosphor burn-in – common with older CRTs due to the screens only displaying non-moving images at high-intensity.

In the first article we published related to this topic, we discussed the overall concern of parts obsolescence in aviation. Due to ongoing changes in consumer electronics, avionics are highly susceptible to obsolescence. This makes many airframes vulnerable to expensive upgrades or potential grounding. However, manufactures and service centers are creating solutions and developing products to keep your airplane flying indefinitely.

The first article mentions unlike consumer electronics, airplanes are built to fly for many years. This especially holds true for the Beechcraft King Air. The King Air was first introduced in the 1960’s and continues to be assembled to this day using the same airfoil. Many of these later models King Airs are still in circulation around the world. However, many owners and operators are beginning to feel the effects of parts obsolescence.

When King Air operators face this challenge, they have two options: source out pre-owned aftermarket parts that have been removed from the same airframe, or invest in a new avionics package. Each option has pros and cons. If you decide to replace your avionics with pre-owned aftermarket parts, sourcing can be very difficult. You also run the risk of investing in a part that has an unknown part life before it too needs to be replaced.

The next option is to install a new avionics package in your King Air. The most popular retrofit for the King Air is the Garmin G1000. The G1000’s popularity stems from the high cost of maintaining current avionics, the reasonable cost of the G1000 installation and the value added back into the aircraft.

For instance, take the cost of traditional King Air avionics upgrades vs. the G1000. A traditional upgrade would include WAAS LPV at $95,000, ADS-B at $45,000, RVSM at $83,000 and five year maintenance and upkeep at $100,000 for a grand total of $323,000. With the traditional upgrade, you add no resale to your aircraft. With the G1000, your average base install is $325,000 and you add an average value increase to the aircraft of $275,000. In addition, the system is safer, lighter, more reliable, requires significantly less maintenance and the aircraft is down for only 15 working days.

Deciding which route to take can be a daunting task. At some point you will be faced with this predicament that will have you searching for additional information. Regardless of what you decide, our avionics retrofit teams and aftermarket avionics department can help your aircraft flying.

Mark Wilken joined Elliott Aviation in 1989 as an Avionics Bench Technician. He was promoted to Avionics Manager in 1996 and joined the sales team in 2003. Mark has led many highly successful avionics programs such as the King Air Garmin G1000 avionics retrofit program. He recently led efforts for Wi-Fi solutions in Hawkers, King Airs and Phenom 300’s. Mark holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Aviation Management from Southern Illinois University and is a licensed Pilot.

Elliott Aviation is a second-generation, family-owned business aviation company offering a complete menu of high quality products and services including aircraft sales, avionics service & installations, aircraft maintenance, accessory repair & overhaul, paint and interior, charter and aircraft management. Serving the business aviation industry nationally and internationally, they have facilities in Moline, IL, Des Moines, IA, and Minneapolis, MN. The company is a member of the Pinnacle Air Network, National Business Aviation Association (NBAA), National Air Transportation Association (NATA), and National Aircraft Resale Association (NARA).

The Reality of Parts Obsolescence – Avionics

Mark Wilken – Director of Avionics Sales with Elliott Aviation
www.elliottaviation.com

Cathode ray tubes are commonly found in the Electronic Flight Instrumentation Systems of Beechjets, like this 400A.

Parts obsolescence is inevitable in aviation. The longer the aircraft has been in circulation, the harder it can be to find parts. This especially holds true in avionics because of the parallels they have with consumer electronics. The components that make up the avionics found in the cockpit weren’t originally designed for aviation; they were actually made for the average consumer. To build an Electronic Flight Instrumentation System (EFIS), avionics companies used technology developed for consumer electronics.

Unlike consumer electronics, airplanes are built to fly for many years. Consumer electronics on average have a life cycle of just a few years before something new comes out. As new technology is introduced into the market, old technology becomes obsolete. Consumer electronics have progressed rapidly, especially in the past ten years.

One example that is currently affecting many operators is the cathode ray tube, or CRT, most commonly found in Beechjets and airframes produced through the mid 2000’s. CRT’s were first introduced into airplanes around the 1980’s when microprocessors were coming of age. The simplified version of how the CRT works is that it uses high voltages to excite the screen phosphors within the tube and, in return, creates the picture. However, CRT’s are very susceptible to screen burn. If you can remember, old CRT monitors required screen savers as a preventative measure. If you left the same image on the screen for too long, it would burn the phosphor and leave a shadow of the image. When it came around to installing these CRT’s into the EFIS, specifically attitude and horizon, or HSI, level flights would show the exact same image for hours at a time, eventually burning the screen.

When CRT’s were readily available and plentiful, replacement wasn’t an issue. Consumers were still purchasing CRT TV’s and manufacturers were still producing replacement parts. In fact, Panasonic and Sony produced many of the CRT’s found in EFIS equipped airplanes. However, due to the rapid change in the consumer electronic market, CRT’s switched to LCD’s overnight. This caused the companies making the components for the CRT’s to shutdown and discontinue supporting the product. This is leading to obsolescence in replacement parts for all of the CRT EFIS equipped airplanes.

Avionics manufacturers predict that by the second half of the decade, replacement CRT’s will not be available to repair existing EFIS displays. Unfortunately, this leaves most owners and operators with little choice if they want to keep the same system. One option is to purchase a used EFIS display that was removed from a prior airplane, but that comes with the unknown of how long it will last. Another option is to spend a significant amount of money to send your parts to a specialist for repair at an increasing cost due to shortage of replacement components. Eventually, every CRT will possess significant screen burn. With performance standards gauging this, your airplane could eventually run the risk of being grounded.

Since there are a significant number of quality airplanes still flying, specifically the Beechjet, there will be a need for updated avionics. Engine parts should not be an issue because they don’t have a mass consumer market driving change. Current engine components work as designed and consumers aren’t forcing the need for new and faster components. But for avionics, there will be a point in time where you need to determine whether you want to keep flying the airplane and update the avionics or buy a new airplane.

Fortunately, there are several avionics retrofits available that will keep your plane flying long into the future. In fact, avionics manufacturers have been preparing for this by investing millions of dollars in research and development. For the Beechjet, Collins has updated their Pro Line series from the Pro Line 4 to the Pro Line 21. Additionally, Garmin introduced the G5000. Both of these retrofits are designed to significantly increase the capabilities of the airplane for the fraction of the cost it would take to purchase a new airplane.

Full implementation has yet to happen, but you can expect it within the next few years. The need hasn’t hit all owners and operators yet, but it’s beginning to trickle down. Inevitably, you will need to consider the available options.

Mark Wilken joined Elliott Aviation in 1989 as an Avionics Bench Technician. He was promoted to Avionics Manager in 1996 and joined the sales team in 2003. Mark has led many highly successful avionics programs such as the King Air Garmin G1000 avionics retrofit program. He recently led efforts for Wi-Fi solutions in Hawkers, King Airs and Phenom 300’s. Mark holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Aviation Management from Southern Illinois University and is a licensed Pilot.

Elliott Aviation is a second-generation, family-owned business aviation company offering a complete menu of high quality products and services including aircraft sales, avionics service & installations, aircraft maintenance, accessory repair & overhaul, paint and interior, charter and aircraft management. Serving the business aviation industry nationally and internationally, they have facilities in Moline, IL, Des Moines, IA, and Minneapolis, MN. The company is a member of the Pinnacle Air Network, National Business Aviation Association (NBAA), National Air Transportation Association (NATA), and National Aircraft Resale Association (NARA).

Cessna, Garmin display Citation Ten, G5000 at NBAA 2010

Representatives from throughout the business aviation community are pouring into Atlanta, Ga., for the NBAA Annual Meeting & Convention.

Although the festivities technically kick off tomorrow, a couple of industry heavyweights hit the ground running today.

Cessna unveiled its Citation Ten, a modified version of the Citation X with 15 more inches of cabin space and increased power and efficiency from a pair of Rolls-Royce AE 3007C2 engines.

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The aircraft will be the first to feature the Garmin G5000 avionics suite, marking the satellite-navigation company’s first venture into FAR Part 25 operations.

The fully integrated system relies upon three wide-aspect ratio 14-inch LCD primary and multifunction displays and four touch-screen control panels.

Both companies call the flight deck “revolutionary,” as it brings global weather, Garmin Synthetic Vision Technology and electronic flight charts to the fingertips of a pilot.

“Because the G5000 is scalable, aircraft manufacturers can choose as many displays as cockpit real estate will allow,” a statement from Garmin explains. “The landscape-oriented screens have multi-pane display capability that allows multiple pages to be viewed side-by-side on any of the screens. Therefore, pilots can simultaneously view maps, charts, checklists and aircraft systems synoptics, TAWS, TCAS, flight planning, weather or video input pages.”


The Citation Ten will make its maiden flight late next year, with company officials expecting the first delivery to occur in 2013. Winglets on the aircraft will increase performance another 211 NM in range while at high-speed cruise and other modifications provide 214 more pounds in maximum payload and a faster rate of climb to 45,000 feet, according to a Cessna statement.

“We are particularly excited about the advanced technology incorporated throughout the aircraft and the improved performance characteristics that give our customers a more efficient and a more productive aircraft and aircraft cabin that are designed to meet evolving requirements in business travel,” said Cessna CEO Jack Pelton.

A cabin mock-up of the Citation Ten can be viewed amongst Cessna’s static aircraft display at the DeKalb Peachtree Airport (PDK) in Atlanta during the NBAA Convention, which runs through Thursday.

Keep up with developments at the convention by clicking here to visit the association’s web site.

Garmin's new ESP feature to give pilots a 'sixth sense'


No, not that Sixth Sense

Garmin says a new upgrade for its G1000 and G3000 avionics suites will give pilots a “sixth sense” in the cockpit.

The Electronic Stability and Protection system (ESP) aides a crew by ensuring stability and preventing stalls, spins or spirals if a pilot becomes distracted, disoriented or incapacitated while in flight. The system monitors airspeed, pitch and roll when a pilot hand flies an aircraft, adjusting the aircraft to stable levels whenever it approaches its limits.

 


The Garmin G1000 in a King Air 200.

A statement from Garmin says the option will appear on select aircraft, depending on manufacturers. The King Air 200 will be the first to offer it laster this year at an expected list price of $17,995.

“Until today, this type of stability augmentation system has only been available on fly-by-wire aircraft that cost millions of dollars,” said Gary Kelley, Garmin’s vice president of marketing, in a company statement. “We’re thrilled to be the first to make this safety enhancing technology available to business and general aviation pilots.”

Read the complete release here.

New Garmin glass panel for helicopters, plus GPS tricks

[youtube:WjsOnXGmAxg]

The above video comes from AvWeb and IFR Magazine. It gives some GPS Tricks for VOR Clearances.

Elsewhere in the sky, the FAA granted a supplemental-type certificate just before the Memorial Day holiday for a Garmin glass panel for helicopters. The G500H displays airspeed, attitude and vertical speed in addition to moving maps and terrain, with the option of having PFD on the left or right.

 

The certificate covers the Bell 206 and Bell 407. Garmin says the G500H takes the best features of the G600 and G500. It is compatible with the GNS 430W/530W series.

You can pick one up for just under $25 grand, including  the GDU 620 display/control unit, GRS 77H AHRS, GDC 74H digital air data computer, GMU 44 tri-axial magnetometer, and GTP 59 temp probe. The Garmin HSVT also is has a G500H option for around $8,000. 

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