The FAA, it seems, never lacks for impenetrable acronyms and we sometimes wonder if this is a virus harbored in the reams of paperwork shuffled between the agency and various manufacturers.
If so, Honeywell/Bendix/King caught a mild case of it with its Integrated Hazard Avoidance System or IHAS, which in the space of a year or so has become one of the confusing and widely misunderstood acronyms in avionics.
Dont get us wrong; we think IHAS is a great concept and has real promise in the world of little-airplane GA. Its just that describing it takes effort. Well try to sort that out in this article. IHAS isnt a single-piece component but a variety of individual elements that can be linked together, composing an avionics suite focused on situational awareness. It can include navigation displays, radar, lightning detection, collision avoidance, ground-linked weather data and ground proximity alerts all in one nifty-albeit expensive-package.
Think of it as an la carte offering; once youve bought and installed the display system, you can add bits and pieces later, to suit your own needs. One source of confusion about IHAS is that there are multiple names for the systems.
The IHAS 5000 is marketed for non-radar equipped aircraft while the IHAS 8000 is intended for radar-display replacement; mainly the Honeywell ART2000 and ART 2100 digital weather radar systems, systems largely limited to heavier GA aircraft. Adding to the confusion is the display technology itself. Bendix/King got into the color display market by buying SkyForce, a British company building portable and panel-mount color and mono displays, some with integrated GPS. The company still markets the Skymap IIIC portable, plus two low-end panel mounts, the KMD150 with or without integrated GPS. Although the KMD150 will accept lightning data from a remote WX-500 Stormscope, thats the limit of the external sensor possibilities.
The next step in color maps is the KMD550, a true multi-function display and higher up the chain yet the KMD850, which has the color weather radar interface. The KMD550/850 share the same base hardware, the KMD540 display.
The real difference between the KMD550 and KMD850 is the addition of the optional KAC501 radar interface module. Confusing? Yes. But it can be sorted out.
The KMD540 is a 5-inch diagonal active-matrix LCD moving map display with many of the tricks were accustomed to with other brands of MFDs, including Jeppesen aeronautical database depicting airports, VORs, NDBs, intersections and special use airspace including boundaries with altitude limits.
It also has an enhanced cartographic database, which includes rivers, roads, lakes, coastlines, cities, railroads and towers displayed in MSL and AGL altitudes, and topographical/elevation info depicted by contour shading. This information is fed via a front-load data cartridge accessible to the user.
The panel mounted display stands 4 inches high, 6 inches wide and about 10 inches deep and weighs 6.5 pounds with mounting rack and hardware; power required is 10 to 30 VDC. The promo material says no forced air-cooling is required but we certainly recommend it as the display gets quite warm and excess heat will shorten component life.
Positional reference is provided by most remote GPS systems that output RS232; the display itself has no GPS receiver. Bendix/King obviously suggests the KLN94 as the GPS of choice but other systems will work. Some buyers insist that its best not to mix and match different brands of equipment but in our experience, state-of-the-art, software-driven avionics can be made to work with alien brands.
However, you do run some risk of future incompatibilities by mixing brands.
And since RS232 data is streamed at different baud rates, its possible that some brands might not play correctly if at all with some displays.
We prefer highspeed ARINC since it has different formats and potential for a vast amount of interface while RS232 is dated and slow by comparison; like the difference between a cable modem and dial-up. The KMD hardware is quite robust, with a heavy duty almost industrial feel to it.
Function buttons are legible and are nicely backlit. The joystick control, which dates to the Brit-designed SkyForce products, has been a hit and has been retained in the KMD series. The joystick serves as a pointing control that moves a computer-like cursor arrow on screen. The joystick becomes even handier as other devices are fed into the KMD.
The displays basic mode is as a moving map with the joystick used to point at specific items or waypoints for more detailed information. For example, want to know what an unfamiliar three-letter identifier shown is? Move the pointer to that location on the map and the additional information appears. You can also use the pointer to measure range and bearing between points on the map.
Display brightness is controlled via a designated potentiometer on the upper left corner of the case. A simple on/off rotary switch lives in the lower left corner. On the bottom of the display, function select keys- five of them-control and identify which external systems are in operation.
For example, in the map mode, the green function select annunciator illuminates, indicating that map is the main screen task. The next key, labeled WX, is for selecting the weather radar-only on the KMD850-and/or remote Stormscope.
TRFC for traffic alert selects the traffic system while TERR is for terrain from the KGP560 ground-proximity warning system. AUX is left open for auxiliary input systems such as external NTSC Video/DVD entertainment and future expansion needs.
The right side of the unit houses range keys for zooming in and out as well as an overlay key for running multiple input sources simultaneously on the map. The display is well laid out, in our view, and intuitive to operate from the start.
Installation considerations are typical Bendix/King, which is to say well thought out and complete. With other boxes, weve sometimes felt we were doing beta install work but not with this one. Factory support has been decent, although with many revisions to installation manuals, its tough to keep up with the latest hints. There are so many variations of installed equipment in the GA fleet that some trial-and-error is inevitable.
Box for the Future
Buyers in todays avionics market are obviously concerned about buying something that could be outdated by next year, or even next month. In this regard, we think Honeywell/Bendix/King has a leg up in the open architecture design of the KMD displays.
Future interface and expansion is accomplished with optional modules or expansion cards, of which the KMD540 base display can support up to four. Each module is installed during installation and each is treated as an independent part of the system tagged with its own part number and serial number.
The display doesnt have a hard drive or remote CD-ROM; each expansion card contains its own processor, so system speed is fast without delays in updating when switching between modes. We like this approach. When you buy the KMD850 MFD, included is the KAC501 radar interface module allowing display of radar output from Honeywell RDR2000/2100 series digital color radar. RDS series radar replacement interface is planned for the near future but we dont see much radar support beyond these units.
Although the guts of the radar system dish and magnetron is retained, radar information displayed on the KMD display seems more accurate and defined, in our experience, probably due to the enhanced clarity of the display.
In order to have proper reference for the weather display, the system needs heading or bootstrap data, say a Bendix/King KCS55A system, the STEC ST180 or upper- end Century systems. One shortcut is to use a Sigma-Tek directional gyro with the synchro bootstrap option.
Displaying the radar information on the KMD is done with the WX button. Rotating the outer function knob selects between standby, test, on and set modes with on-screen soft key commands, while the inner control knob adjusts radar gain. The joystick selects the radar tilt angle for which its perfectly suited. Displayed radar range is controlled with the RNG up or down keys.
Comparing the KMD850 radar screen replacement to the Avidyne equivalent, we prefer the joystick over the Avidynes rotary knob but this is a minor personal preference. Always of concern is ensuring that the radar is off on the ground and a bold text message, plus a radar dish icon with waves being emitted, shows the radar status nicely.
If you have an existing radar that will interface with the KMD850 the interface is well worth the effort and expense, in our view. If you dont have radar and want on- board weather, see the sidebar.
Terrain input is provided via the KAC502 EGPWS module, which we reviewed in depth in the May 2001 issue of Aviation Consumer. This system works a bit like the radar function. Once the terrain key is pushed, range up or down is controlled with the RNG key with 2.5, 5, 10, 20, 40, 80, 160 and 320- mile selections.
The VIEW function key toggles between 360-degree and 120-degree forward view, which we found handy on approaches during our flight testing. As with other remote interfaces, the OVLY key allows overlay of flightplan, Stormscope or traffic data on the terrain data.
Depending on the range selected and terrain for a given area, the display can get busy with multiple inputs overlaid at once and this is more obvious with the terrain option, since it uses multiple colors and contour information.
The way around this is to install multiple displays, as is common with dual Garmin units for example. But few owners have the space or budget to accommodate two displays and the GPWS doesnt rely on visual display; it has audio alerts.
If traffic alerting appeals, the KAC501 module will connect the Bendix/King KTA870 traffic system to the KMD displays. An active system, this device uses Mode-C interrogation and has a range of about 18 miles, using two antennas.
Traffic is overlaid on the map or can be displayed on a designated page. For larger aircraft, Honeywells TCAS 1 can also be displayed. The TRFC function key accesses the TAS mode, with the rotary knob selecting operating modes and the RANGE button for setting 3, 5, 10, 15, 20 and 40-mile rings on the display.
Traffic is displayed using TCAS-like symbology; circles and triangles with up or down arrows indicating vertical trend of intruding traffic. The map can display traffic as normal-above and below-above only or below only.
Honeywell/Bendix/King offers the KTA870 traffic alert system-not yet available-and the KGP560 ground prox system together as one package, called the KMH880 system, introducing yet another box specification to confuse buyers.
In any case, the traffic interface looks to be at least as good as the Goodrich Sky 497 Skywatch system and its display on the KMD550/850 makes sense. Well look at the system in detail when its available.WX500 Stormscope, FIS
Stormscope data from the WX-500 can be overlaid on either display without any interface card. The WX-500 is fed to the display via a RS232 interface. The lightning information, displayed in strike or cell mode, can be overlaid on the base map or displayed on a designated page, with the Stormscopes 360-degree /120-degree views.
If lightning strikes become a factor within 25-nautical miles, a red icon pops up warning the user of danger nearby. The WX-500 interface works quite well, from our experience, and installation, including software configuration, have proven seamless. If you want both Stormscope and radar but you dont have onboard weather radar, consider Bendix/Kings recently announced KDR510 VHF datalink receiver, which will require yet another module, the KAC503 FIS interface.
The FAA-sponsored FIS (Flight Information System) utilizes ground stations to uplink weather and other data, including e-mail and NEXRAD graphical weather images. This data can be overlaid on the displays for near real-time weather data.
As the system matures, it could be a popular replacement for older and even newer ship-based radar systems. Different datalink products will be offered through Bendix/Kings Wingman services for subscriptions, depending on the owners needs.
A relatively simple system to install, the KDR510 datalink utilizes its own antenna and the datalink hardware is fed to the display. Other manufacturers are promising datalink capabilities but FIS and Wingman is a Honeywell/Bendix/King exclusive, as is their designed datalink hardware.
As we go to press this month, Bendix/King is currently certifying the KDR510, which they expect to be completed early near year. Pricing? It appears that textual weather will be free but NEXRAD graphics will be pay-per-view offering on a subscription basis. As with the traffic system, well plan an in-depth report when the datalink system is available.
In our view, theres no question that Bendix/Kings IHAS concept brings wide capabilities to a single brand of avionics, if not a single box. With that in mind, if you think youll ever want what IHAS does, that alone may swing the decision toward the KMD-series display, even if you dont plan the additional capability right away. Also, if you go with the Bendix/King, youre committed to the rest of the products in that line. Bendix/King has all but turned its nose up to the idea of stitching competing sensors into the IHAS program.
For example, there are no plans for an interface between the planned Goodrich Landmark terrain warning system and the KMD550/850. The Honeywell terrain system will be the only choice. The same is true of the weather datalink; IHAS wont play with the other guys boxes.
Were not saying that this is necessarily bad, since the Honeywell products seem to perform well, thus far, but theyre expensive and being limited to one manufacturer limits choices. One interface were anxious to see is TIS (Traffic Interface System), which utilizes a Mode-S transponder mated to a datalink connection. This link between the FAAs secondary surveillance radar will allow display of nearby airborne traffic without the need for aircraft-mounted hardware. If the datalink craze takes off, many of the remote systems we describe in this report could become obsolete. The ability to datalink traffic, weather, lightning and a host of other services seems close to becoming a reality.
Contact- Honeywell/Bendix/King, One Technology Center, 23500 W. 105th St. MD 45, Olathe, KS 66061-1950; 913-712-2613; www.bendixking.com.
Also With This Article
Click here to view “KMD550/850 IHAS Controls.”
Click here to view IHAS pricing, add-ons and typical systems.
Click here to view “Radar: Ground or Airborne?”
Click here to view “Checklist.”
-by Larry Anglisano
Larry Anglisano is an Aviation Consumer contributing editor. He works at Exxel Avionics, in Hartford, Connecticut.