The relatively new portion of the private jet industry, Very Light Jets ( VLJs), has brought with it many innovative technologies – small but powerful turbofan engines, new manufacturing techniques, a streamlined production process, and a new approach to light jet avionics. It is difficult to tell which innovations will have the greatest impact on the industry, but at this stage Eclipse Aviation’s avionics system, Avio NG, seems to be promising.
Eclipse is quick to emphasize that their avionics suite offers “total aircraft integration.” This may sound unexceptional; as many existing avionics packages in private jets already integrate engines, fuel, electrical, navigation, and avionics system into a single control interface. Avio NG differentiates itself by including functions that are conventionally separate from the main control system: landing gear, flaps, surveillance, environmental, anti-ice, and communication systems. Eclipse Aviation’s founder, Vern Raburn, has compared Avio NG to a computer operating system that provides the user with a single central control center to interface with and control all aircraft functions.
Pilots interface with Avio NG through two 10.4 inch Primary Flight Displays ( PFDs) and one Multi Function Display (MFD). The MFD displays menus and flight data organized into one of eight “synoptic pages.” These pages are electronic depictions of flight systems that both display flight data for a specific system and allow the pilot to control system functions from the synoptic display itself.
The direct interface provided by this setup cuts pilot workload, especially for routine processes such as the pre-flight checklist: as the pilot completes the checklist, the avionics systems computes takeoff, landing, and weight/balance data automatically. Vital tasks, such as engaging a backup system when the primary one fails, are automated as well. Avio automatically switches to the backup system, alerts the pilot of the switch, and displays the synoptic page of the system in question on the MFD.
The overarching theme of Eclipse Aviation’s Avio NG system is increasing safety and cutting pilot workload. Avio NG’s setup is designed to be as intuitive as possible, and will automatically alert the pilot of both unusual flight performance and routine flight tasks. Avio NG has already proven itself to be a success in the cockpit of the Eclipse 500 and is set to establish itself among the class of long-standing avionics systems before long.