UPS (Louisville, Ky.) has started to retrofit much of its jet fleet with a computerized display system that will improve safety in the air and on the ground while reducing fuel use and making the pilot's job easier.
The retrofit program is believed to be the first of its type attempted by any airline, cargo or passenger, "and basically reflects our belief that this technology is ready and should be applied to jets now in service," said Bob Lekites, vice president, UPS Airline and International Operations.
"This system will support software programs that make available in the cockpit information that today exists only on paper or in the hands of air traffic controllers," Lekites added. "Ultimately, it will help pilots with navigation and allow them to space their aircraft on their own; call up the most complete and accurate long-range weather maps; warn of potential collisions on the ground; push the maintenance logbook into the digital age, and place the entire flight manual within easy electronic recall."
The retrofit program, which will begin with 107 B-757 and B-767 aircraft in the UPS fleet, will equip each plane with a Class III Display Device, commonly referred to as a Class III Electronic Flight Bag, manufactured by the Boeing Co. Such advanced electronic systems today are found only on selected business jets and a small number of new passenger airliners. Eight new 747-400 aircraft recently ordered by UPS will be built from scratch with the system.
The Class III Display Device is essentially an information system with two independent computer hard drives coupled to a specially constructed video display. Its Class III rating means it meets the most stringent certification requirements of the Federal Aviation Administration.
In the case of the UPS Airlines, the Class III Display Device actually becomes even more capable than those systems going into the newest jets because UPS already has installed a safety system known as ADS-B - or Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast - in all of its 757 and 767 aircraft. ADS-B operates with the Global Positioning Satellite system to automatically track all similarly equipped aircraft in the air or on the ground. It is the most accurate and reliable aviation tracking system in the world.