The largest event of the year for business aviation professionals just completed its 76th annual exhibition at NBAA-BACE 2023. From innovative technologies on display to exciting media announcements and partnerships, here is what you may have missed from Universal's presence at the show.
The NBAA Business Aviation Convention and Expo (BACE) is the largest event of the year for business aviation professionals and private jet owners. Hosted this year at the Convention Center in Las Vegas, Nevada, over 20,000 attendees came from around the world to discuss the future of the aviation industry.
Between the excitement of keynote sessions and aircraft on display, it's not easy to keep track of everything happening at the show! This blog post highlights 5 major takeaways from Universal Avionics at NBAA-BACE 2023. From featured innovative technologies, to exciting media announcements and partnerships, here is what you may have missed from Universal's presence at the show:
1. Modern Flight Deck Upgrades a Sustainable Solution for Aging Business Aircraft
There's no denying that "green thinking" and sustainability are a big focus in the aviation industry, prompted by extreme climate and rising fuel costs. Many of our favorite business jets, such as the Hawker 800 and Falcon 900B, are trusted and reliable aircraft that have been flying for decades. Production for these planes ended some time ago, meaning operators now rely on retrofit upgrades to bring them to the necessary standards required to fly in today's airspace.
Attendees at NBAA-BACE 2023 demo the InSight Display System from Universal Avionics
At NBAA-BACE 2023, we were excited to announce newly completed installations for Universal's InSight Flight Display System as a modern upgrade giving older aircraft a new life. Trimec Aviation, a Part 145 Repair Station located in Fort Worth, Texas, kicked off the week with their announcement wrapping up the first Dassault Falcon 2000EX Upgrade. The latest aircraft to be installed and recently announced is the Falcon 50 Upgrade from Mid-Canada Mod Center, an authorized dealer in Canada recently acquired by De Havilland Canada.
Falcon 2000/EX Flight Deck with InSight (left), and the Falcon 50 Flight Deck with InSight (right)
This modern upgrade is a sustainable way to remove legacy equipment and displays, replacing them with the industry's brightest, high-resolution LCD displays. The solution is visible day and night, has high reliability, reduces maintenance costs, and provides pilots with the information they need to fly smoother and more efficiently. These next-generation displays are powered by a cutting-edge synthetic vision system (SVS) for enhanced situational awareness with intuitive controls to simplify workflows.
Critical information displayed and intuitive touch controls improve the pilot experience
2. Head-Up Enhanced Vision Helps Pilots Tackle Poor Weather and Low Visibility
Next, we turn our attention higher, above the flight deck and outside the front of the aircraft. The height of the flight deck and the angle of the windshield can already make it difficult for pilots to see the environment and terrain outside the cockpit. Add a bit of weather or low-visibility conditions and you're working off virtually no natural visual information.
Viewing terrain and situational data from ClearVision EFVS in a wearable SkyLens HUD.
Enhanced Vision systems help pilots tackle low visibility and extreme weather with head-up situational awareness. With Universal's ClearVision EFVS, information is projected onto a head-up display worn by pilots, allowing them to continue operations despite poor visibility conditions. Horizon, terrain data, and other aircraft metrics are clearly shown to the operator. This not only helps during takeoff and landing at night or in fog but also when taxiing on the ground in similar situations.
Universal Avionics ClearVision EFVS on the Boeing 737NG as part of AerSale AerAware
ClearVision was recently certified on the Boeing 737NG with AerSale following successful TIA (Type Inspection Approval) test flights . The AerAware solution features ClearVision SkyLens worn by pilots, and EVS-5000 cameras mounted on the nose of the aircraft.
Over in the Static Displays at the Henderson Airport, EVS-5000 cameras could also be seen featured as forward-fit technologies on the new business jets from Dassault, including the Falcon 8X on display and the indoor model of the 6X.
The EVS-5000 is a popular retrofit and forward-fit solution installed on the nose of the aircraft.
3. Artificial Intelligence is Making its Impact in Aviation and Transportation
There is no shortage of new solutions powered by artificial intelligence (AI). This ranges as small as AI-powered analytics in tablet apps, to entirely new aircraft designed to fly autonomously without a human operator in the driver's seat. However, AI solutions require extensive testing and user adoption to become real, applied systems that meet industry regulations.
The Loop provides a direct route from the Hotel to the Convention Center, with plans to go autonomous
Take the Vegas Loop, for example, which was a popular mode of transportation for attendees at NBAA-BACE 2023 traveling to and from the Resort World Hotel and Las Vegas Convention Center. Recently opened to the public, The Boring Company describes it as "an all-electric, zero-emissions, high-speed underground public transportation system." The company intends for the Loop to be run autonomously without the need for a human driver, but today vehicles are still being manually operated. Regardless, it was still extremely convenient for event attendees, and I'm excited to see where it develops by the next NBAA-BACE event.
Always looking to spark new ideas and innovation, Universal Avionics is hosting its second Employee Grand Challenge Competition which encourages employees to form teams and work together with the goal of developing new AI-based solutions and products. “We pulled together research papers from the FAA, EASA, and universities, and put them in a central location so they can look around and see what are the pain points and how they can solve them using AI.” said Amanda Grizzard, at Universal Avionics.
Universal Avionics Aperture™ manages multiple video and data sources, enhanced by AI and Augmented Reality
The challenge goes hand-in-hand with existing solutions in development from Universal Avionics, including its Aperture video management solution which is being trained to include information and awareness from applied AI. This is then displayed to multiple operators across Universal’s wearable head-up devices, such as SkyLens or SkyVis.
4. Connected FMS capabilities strengthened by third-party partnerships
Available to demo in the Universal Avionics booth was the recently introduced Connected Avionics Ecosystem. A direct connection between Universal’s NextGen Flight Management Systems and iPad applications allows pilots to update databases and flight plans on the go before and in flight. Post-flight reports can be downloaded from the FMS to the iPad and shared for training or maintenance purposes. It is Wi-Fi-enabled and cyber-secure, with an open architecture to allow for third-party applications and integrations.
Universal FMS connects wirelessly to iPad applications, enabling on-the-go flight planning and data insights.
Announced at the show was a new partnership with APG to provide a Performance Package for users of its Connected FMS. The Performance Package fully integrates with the existing workflows of the Connected FMS and relies on APG’s performance for take-off and engine-out calculations, obstacle analysis, landing factors, and more. APG’s engine allows for accurate weight and balance calculations that can enhance aircraft ground handling and increase fuel savings for efficient flight operations.
FlightPartner Connected Avionics with the new FlightPerf app icon for Performance Package capabilities
5. Universal Avionics helps Power Up the Flight Experience beyond Business Aviation
While we were backing the Bizav market with our innovative solutions, it wasn’t the only industry event being attended by Universal Avionics in the past few weeks. One week prior, Universal attended the European Regional Airline Association’s General Assembly event, with exciting announcements to support airline and cargo operations with advanced navigation capabilities and FMS connectivity. Widerøe Airlines, the largest regional airline in Scandinavia and winner of the 2023 Annual Airline Sustainability Award, selected Universal Avionics to equip its fleet of Dash 8-400 aircraft with Connected Flight Management Systems. This fleet upgrade package increases efficiency and safety with newly developed supplementary iPad applications.
Widerøe Airlines selects Universal Avionics to equip Dash 8-400 fleet with Connected FMS
The same week as NBAA-BACE, representatives in Athens, Greece shared how Universal Avionics solutions are supporting mission-driven operations at Aerial Firefighting Europe. De Havilland Canada selected Universal Avionics to be the primary flight deck supplier for its Firefighting aircraft, including the new DHC-515 water bomber. The DHC-515 will feature Universal’s flight deck solution with InSight. It builds off the ruggedness and reliability of the CL-215T and CL-415, both of which are supported with Universal FMS and flight displays.
De Havilland Canada selects Universal Avionics as key flight deck supplier for DHC-515 Aerial Firefighters
Next Is Now with Universal Avionics
Overall, we couldn’t have done it all without the support from our partners and customers worldwide. NBAA-BACE 2023 and other industry events worldwide are the perfect opportunity for us to connect with users and fans. Thanks for making another unforgettable event, and we look forward to seeing you again next year at NBAA-BACE 2024, or at any one of our other upcoming events.
A big thank you from the Universal Avionics team at NBAA-BACE 2023!