Gulfstream's PlaneDeck, FMS 6.1 Upgrades

By Fred George
Source: Business & Commercial Aviation
January 01, 2014
Credit: Gulfstream Aerospace

Gulfstream IV and V series aircraft remain two of the most capable lines of business jets designed in the past three decades because of their range, speed and cabin comfort. The GIV can fly 4,200 nm and the GV can fly 6,500 nm. Both aircraft routinely cruise at Mach 0.80 or faster and they can seat up to 12 to 14 passengers.

The GIV and GV are equipped with Honeywell SPZ-8000 series avionics systems that were cutting edge when introduced in the late 20th century. But back then, augmented GPS was in its infancy, the airspace was considerably less congested, paperless cockpits were mere science projects and uplinked weather graphics were pipe dreams. And CRT displays were cutting edge.

Fast forward to the 21st century. At the beginning of the new millennium, it became clear to Gulfstream Aerospace, among other OEMs, that older aircraft equipped with this generation of Honeywell avionics would need comprehensive cockpit display, FMS and radio upgrades to operate efficiently in the future.

PlaneDeck is Gulfstream's trade name for its Honeywell Primus Elite flat-panel display retrofit for SPZ-8000, -8400 and -8500 avionics suites. A six-pack of 8-by-8-in. DU-885 AMLCDs, which fit into the same mounting racks, replaces the original half dozen DU-880 CRTs. Additional wiring and connectors, though, are needed to connect the displays to new left and right cursor control devices mounted in the cockpit side ledges, to a new USB thumb drive/SanDisk data loader and to an XM satellite radio weather receiver.

Each flat-panel display has its own internal graphics processors and database that enables it to host specific functions when plugged into a specific rack in the panel. At present, display units 2 and 5, which function as left and right navigation displays (NDs), can host Jeppesen electronic charts, enhanced map graphics with XM radio weather overlays and video provided by on-aircraft visible light or infrared EVS cameras.

Swapping out the CRTs for LCDs has other benefits. The LCDs consume so much less power that they have double the expected life and don't require external cooling fans or air filters that must be changed. The LCD boxes also aren't prone to CRT phosphor screen burn-in, so they don't have to be rotated around the panel every 100 hr. to assure even wear characteristics. So, if you do trade an LCD PFD for an LCD ND, the navigation display won't have ghost images of an attitude indicator, air data tapes and a compass rose.

Each DU-885 LCD weighs about 7 lb. less than a DU-880 CRT, plus there's a weight savings from removing the external cooling fans and ducts. Gulfstream officials say overall weight reduction is close to 50 lb.

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