January 25, 2012

Contract Award: Ultra Avionics to provide satellite-based navigation and flight management systems for Canadian Air Creebec

News Report

As announced in a recent press release, Canada’s Air Creebec has entered into an agreement with Authorized Dealer Mid-Canada Mod Center to fit its entire Bombardier Q-Series (Dash 8) fleet with Universal Avionic's Wide Area Augmentation System/Satellite-Based Augmentation System Flight Management Systems (WAAS/SBAS-FMS) and Terrain Awareness and Warning Systems (TAWS). They are the latest Canadian regional to begin this conversion.

Air Creebec selected Universal Avionics’ UNS-1Lw WAAS/SBAS-FMS, with a 4-inch Flat Panel Control Display Unit and a remotely mounted navigation computer. The navigation computer is contained in a 2-MCU sized Line Replaceable Unit (LRU) which includes the integral GPS/SBAS receiver. Air Creebec will gain access to all Area Navigation (RNAV) approach types as well as the additional accuracy of WAAS correction for other on-board systems. Universal Class A TAWS will be installed concurrently, with its unique look-ahead function and three views of terrain, with man-made obstacles alerting.

The Technology

The Wide Area Augmentation System (WAAS) or Satellite-Based Augmentation System (SBAS) is an air navigational aid developed by the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to augment the Global Positioning System (GPS), with the goal of improving its accuracy, integrity and availability. Essentially, WAAS/SBAS is intended to enable aircraft to rely on GPS for all phases of flight, including precision approaches, to any airport within its coverage area.

As part of the NextGen National Airspace System improvement plan, the FAA is focused on reducing the industry’s dependence on older ground based navaids such as ILS, and increasing the use of GPS navigation. Because of its ability to alleviate airspace congestion, save fuel and improve safety, SBAS technology is being applied worldwide.

Terrain Awareness and Warning Systems (TAWS) were developed to provide a warning of a possible terrain conflict in case of poor visual conditions, cockpit distraction, malfunctioning equipment, ATC error or pilot/controller miscommunication. The purpose of a TAWS is to provide a warning with enough time for the flight crew to take appropriate action.

The TAWS computer receives position information from a GPS receiver, and compares that position with the internal terrain or obstacle database. The TAWS computer also receives aircraft configuration and air-data information to then create a 4-D position of latitude, longitude, altitude and time. It then compares this position with the on-board database of terrain, obstacles and runways to determine any conflicts. If the TAWS computer detects a possible conflict between the future flight path of the aircraft and terrain, visual and audible warnings are given to the pilot.


We’re cautiously optimistic that we will eventually have Universal’s WAAS/SBAS-FMS in every Q-Series/ Dash 8 operating in Canada,” said Norm Matheis, Universal’s Regional Manager for Canada. “There’s a compelling case that investments in these technologies can drive overall operational efficiencies over the life of the aircraft,” he added.

The flight operational demands into Canada’s remote regions are unique unto themselves and provide some interesting challenges” said Bill Arsenault, Vice President of Mid-Canada Mod Center. “We have worked with several of these service providers in conjunction with Universal Avionics to integrate modern nav aids into the current fleets – in particular the Dash 8 family of aircraft – that take full advantage of WAAS/SBAS capabilities. These systems bring enhanced safety and operations consistency to these operators who are providing an invaluable lifeline to the communities they service. Air Creebec has been a leader in developing and supporting such routes. We have had the pleasure of supporting their operations for many years through both Mid-Canada Mod Center and our other shop, Kitchener Aero. Their focus on safety and reliability in service sets them apart as leaders in Canada and we are pleased to have been asked to yet again lend them support in achieving their goals.

References: Universal Avionics (1,3), Gulfstream.com (2), AEA Pilot's Guide (3)

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