Bendix/King has been flight testing an integrated flat-panel avionics package for general aviation for improved situation awareness, instrument reliability and ease of operation. While the company is flying the avionics suite, known as APEX, in a King Air testbed, the product is targeted at lower cost airplanes, down to piston singles, and at lower-end business jets for which flat panels were previously too costly.
Bendix/King has been able to make the leap from electromechanical instruments to solid state systems with LCDs by leveraging technology it gained in its merger with Honeywell, the leading manufacturer of avionics systems for business aviation.
The most noticeable feature borrowed from Honeywell is the look of the primary flight display, which simulates the view out the windscreen on a clear, sunny day. Known as Visual Cueing and Control (VC2), the interface shows pilots representations of terrain and airports derived from an internal database.
Drawing from Honeywell's work on its high-end Primus EPIC avionics suite, APEX will feature an air data attitude heading reference system (ADAHRS) using micro-electromechanical sensors (MEMS) in place of traditional gyros. In addition to faster and more accurate performance than traditional sensors, MEMS has a life expectancy of greater than 8,000 hours, many times that of spinning gyros.
For an operating system, APEX will use Honeywell's digital engine operating system (DEOS), which is the OS behind Primus EPIC. DEOS meets the FAA's Level A requirements, qualifying it for use in flight-critical systems.
Bendix/King will offer APEX in three versions: APEX 1000 for piston singles, APEX 2000 for piston twins, light turboprops and helicopters, and APEX 9000 for turboprops and light bizjets. No word yet on when the system might be available.