29 December 2014
Analogue equipment will soon turn into museum artefacts that would show the highlights of the aviation of the past. The same has happened with dial phones and arithmometers already. This is inevitable for autonomous gyro-horizons and other analogue elements in the cockpit. In the short-term new pilot regulations will not account for hundreds of airplanes equipped with analogue equipment. Since 2003, Honeywell (US) has started working on a universal digital navigation complex that could be installed on both civil and military airplanes. The process of adaptation for this complex on a new aircraft relies entirely on the calibration of the mathematical model of the aircraft. Moreover, it could be modified to fulfil particular tasks and extend its features according with the requirements of the aircraft designer. The complex called Primus Epic® could be installed on new airplanes, as well as modifications of older ones, as it happened with the modernised version of Lockheed C-130 Hercules.
AN-74 navigation system was once modernised due to tightening international requirements regarding aircraft control systems. These changes occurred under cooperative production agreement between Ukraine and Russia that was enacted
in 2003. Due to the small number of aircraft produced, this navigation system involved local and even experimental solutions, which were then integrated into the main control system. The conceptual solution from Honeywell Primus Epic allows to use the electronic systems that could be universally applied. These qualities were successfully tested on Lockheed, Embraer, Hawker, SyberJet and other airplanes.
AN-74 enjoys a high demand on the international market because of its unique flight characteristics. The market price of the aircraft in 2014 is around 32m USD. Thus, installing Primus Epic® on the current fleet of AN-72 and AN-74 could be commercially viable. It is possible to modernise AN-74 and set up Honeywell Primus Epic for just 2m (without accounting for a single payment for design and engineering works and certification) and might take up to two months. Such kind of modification does not require any changes to AN-74 control systems and Engine Instrumentation Display System, which is a better option for airplanes that has been in use for a long time (the total number of AN-72 and AN-74 currently in use is 195 airplanes).