Kitchener Aero Avionics (KAAV) has completed a cockpit/avionics update to a very special Canadian aircraft — the Vintage Wings of Canada museum’s (VWoC) Canadair Sabre 5 (F86 Saber), aka the Discovery Air “Hawk One.”
The centerpiece of the installation is a Garmin G500 Integrated Flight Display System. The modification program was started in February and took six weeks to complete.
Even though this aircraft has been operational for many years, the avionics package was extremely dated and becoming increasingly unreliable, according to company officials. As the aircraft has become such an important part of aviation events across the country it became clear to the operators that an update to the avionics systems would be beneficial and a worthwhile investment, officials said.
“When first approached by Vintage Wings regarding the upgrade, one of my first calls was to Garmin,” said Barry Aylward. “I spoke with Jim Alpiser, Director of Aviation Aftermarket Sales at Garmin, “and they knew of this particular aircraft and agreed that the G500 would be a great compliment to aid in modernizing the avionics. They immediately expressed an interest in working with us to make this project happen.”
The heart of Hawk One’s new avionics suite is the Garmin G-500 Flight Display System. It offers most of the advantages and features of a glass cockpit, including SVT Synthetic Vision. The G500 System includes digital AHRS attitude/heading reference & AirData capability, replacing the old Gyro Systems.
In Hawk One the installation of the Garmin G500 Integrated Flight Display System includes a Garmin radio package featuring a GNS 430W Nav/Com/GPS. In all, 28 older avionics items, plus wiring and support structure, were removed from the aircraft in the nose, main panel and avionics bay. The new package is smaller, lighter, and more reliable, and has far more features and capability, officials said.
“It was becoming increasing frustrating to operate Hawk One with antique avionics package,” explained VWoC’s President Rob Fleck. “Dispatch reliability is key to any aviation operation and we needed to improve Hawk One’s”.
When the decision was finally made to upgrade Hawk One’s avionics systems, the team turned to KAAV. “I have been working with Kitchener Aero for more than 25 years and it was clear that they had the knowledge and the passion to complete this very unusual project. There was no one else we would trust with our jet,” he said.
Further, the installation of modern avionics has permitted VWoC to work with Nav Canada to develop a program that will permit more efficient flight profiles when transiting Hawk One from show to show, yielding significant fuel savings.