NEW PROFESSIONAL-STANDARD CENTRAL WARNING SYSTEM FOR EXPERIMENTALS and LIGHT-SPORT AIRCRAFT
Ever missed something important in your cockpit checks or scan that could have put you in danger? With the ever-increasing pressures of flying in busy airspace, it’s too easy to do. Military and commercial aircraft have sophisticated monitoring and warning systems which watch the pilot’s back while he or she focuses on demanding flight tasks where 100% attention is required, inside or outside the cockpit. In light-sports aircraft or experimentals, system monitors and cockpit warnings are often a mixed bag of individual warning lights or indicators scattered around the cockpit where they happen to fit. And while flat-screen displays can show a multitude of systems data and warnings, these are often densely packed and over-complex and abnormalities are easy to miss. And what about those situations where your early attention might avert a worse one developing? An actual fire might be difficult to miss, but what about high oil temperature or CHT, being in the wrong configuration or over speed, or fuel or oil running low, or low volts or vacuum? Might it be helpful too to be prompted to put your pitot heat on when icing becomes a threat, or to put your oxygen on as cabin pressure falls? Depending on your aircraft type, there will be other potential killers that could sneak up on you unnoticed. You’ve spent a lot on your machine, so spending just a little more for a system that alerts you when things need attention and helps to keep you and those with you safe, makes good sense. Any examination of FAA accident reports illustrates the point well: even the most experienced professional pilot can mess up! So we part-time, low-flight-hour aces might just need a bit of extra help.
If you get this reasoning, you’ll be interested in a new Aero Safety Systems product just coming to the experimental and light-sport aircraft market, which draws upon military fast-jet cockpit design experience. Aero Safety Systems call it ACISS, short for aircraft cockpit information and safety system, and it does just what the name suggests. The core of the system is the AH500 central warning panel (CWP) and associated AH501 Master Caution (MC) press-to-acknowledge button/indicator. The AH500 CWP accommodates up to 16 warning or caution captions and can fit neatly into a standard avionic stack. The unit incorporates a micro-processor which monitors client selectable parameters or flight conditions and warns off if these go outside configurable limits. The CWP accepts digital or analogue inputs from a range of sensors or switches around the aircraft and engine and can also take existing data-bus feeds from your EFIS or engine monitoring displays. The system monitors these for system failures or abnormalities and lets you know when things start to go wrong. There are the obvious parameters like those mentioned above, but you might wish to add a few monitors particular to type, for example, door unlatched or external power connected. It can also warn you of an icing risk or that your gear isn’t down on approach. All warnings or cautions (red or amber legends) are accompanied by a calm voice audio warning and a combing-mounted master caution attention-getter. Having drawn the pilots attention to the anomaly, pressing the MC acknowledges the warning and mutes the audio so that emergency procedures can be followed in peace while the system continues to monitor in case anything else goes wrong. Periodic cockpit scans will always be essential for good airmanship and responsible captaincy, but for those times when you need to focus on a difficult task, or to sharpen your lookout in congested airspace, it’s reassuring to know that safety critical items are still being watched. It’s like having a guardian angel on your shoulder!
Additional optional elements of ACISS are planned to be introduced next year.
Aero Safety Systems will launch the ACISS Central Warning Panel and Master Caution at Oshkosh this year. Aircraft Spruce has been appointed the primary distributor for the system. At $1190 for the combined Central Warning Panel and Master Caution, this safety-enhancing system represents a modest but very wise investment indeed. The items are shipped with full fitting and wiring instructions backed up by a help-desk/email service which promises to respond to queries within 24 hours.