Posted by John McHale
PARIS AIR SHOW BLOG, 24 June 2011. I've seen the Honeywell Primus avionics system many times at trade shows, but yesterday at the Paris Air Show I had my first in-flight demonstration from the right-hand seat of FLIR Systems' Pilatus PC12 turbo-prop aircraft courtesy of the pilot -- Ethan Lewis -- and fellow pilot and FLIR President Bill Sundermeier, who's seat I took. Sundermeier only had one rule for me: "DON'T TOUCH ANYTHING!"
Wow ... nobody trust reporters with no flight time to land planes safely any more. Unreal. Seriously, I didn't touch anything, but I learned quite a lot. Typically I get overviews of these systems from the engineers who build them, which is always valuable, but hearing from a pilot why a glass cockpit is important is akin to interviewing warfighters on why night-vision goggles help them fight in the dark.
Before using the Primus cockpit, Lewis flew in a Hawker aircraft with an avionics system dating back to 1989 with mechanical gauges and the like. This was his first glass cockpit, and he's a huge fan.
Lewis took me through all the displays and how it makes his job easier by having the information so easily at hand. He also is an iPad groupie and uses the iPad for electronic flight bag (EFB) features such as housing Jeppesen maps, flight plans, and downloading weather information such as Aeroweather. Lewis uses his iPhone to track weather reports all day prior to his flight.
For more on iPads in cockpits click here.
I told him and Sundermeier about the new continuous cockpit display concept called Odicis that Thales was showcasing this week. When Sundermeier heard it was one big touch screen display that would encompass the entire flight deck and its instruments his eyes lit up.
"Multifunction displays are great tools," but having a display like that with touch screen capability would bring the iPad-like user interfaces to the cockpit and be much easier to use, he said.
I wouldn't know as I still don't have an iPad….but my birthday is coming up. Hint Hint
Anyway, thanks for the chance to sit up front, fellas.
You're right, the view is so much better in the cockpit.