Commercial

Modernizing Civilian Black Hawks with Genesys Digital Cockpits

By Frank Lombardi | April 20, 2018

Genesys Aerosystems UH-60 Black Hawk Cockpit

Photo courtesy of Genesys Aerosystems

The venerable UH-60 Black Hawk has been in service since the late 1970s. Its many variants have not only been workhorses of the U.S. Army, Navy, Air Force and Coast Guard, but also are part of the armed forces of 28 other countries worldwide. In total, more than 4,000 Black Hawks are in service throughout the world today.

In 2014, after nearly 40 years, the Black Hawk was finally released for sale to the civilian market. With its 8,000-lb external load capacity, it has quickly become a customer favorite in the medium- to heavy-lift sector of flight operations. Having had a purchase price of around $5 million new, most of these surplus UH-60s can now be bought for between $400,000 to $800,000, depending on their condition.

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Although there are additional costs associated with certifying them to comply with FAA regulations, this still puts an incredibly capable aircraft within the reach of many more civilian and military operations around the world.

As these surplus Black Hawks have continued to enter the market, Rodney Allison, president of XP Services, saw an opportunity to make a good thing even better. Allison, a retired U.S. Army master aviator and experimental test pilot, felt that the popularity and capability of the older surplus Black Hawks with analog cockpits could be improved if they could be offered with a modern digital alternative.

As an independent test organization, XP Services can install any supplier’s glass cockpit in a Black Hawk. The caveat is that the high cost of an all-digital cockpit could easily overshadow the price of the surplus airframe, and that just wouldn’t make sense to the buyers.

In keeping with his company’s mission of providing affordable, responsive developmental flight-test and aircraft-certification services, Allison was determined to find a solution that would not be too cost-prohibitive. After considering the pros and cons of many possible contenders, XP Services invested in the IDU-680 display offered by Genesys Aerosystems.

“I believe that the price point and capability of the Genesys system, along with the fact that the systems are FAA-certified, make it a very good solution for an upgrade of this kind,” said Allison. “There are many capable products out there, but the already-TSO’d Genesys IDU-680 offered the best bang for the buck with the least risk.”

Although its name is relatively new, Genesys Aerosystems of Mineral Wells, Texas, offers a mature product line, the lineage of which can be traced back to Chelton Flight Systems, Inc. and S-TEC Corporation. Both companies were acquired by Genesys in 2014.
In speaking about the IDU-680, Nick Bogner, director of business development at Genesys Aerosystems said, “The product itself is well-suited to the platform, hitting the sweet spot, due to its ruggedized nature and its form factor. The size of the four configurable displays and their redundancy is optimal, while the price of the system fully-integrated and installed, really fits this aircraft’s surplus market."

Continue reading Frank's full evaluation of the Genesys cockpit while flying a civilian UH-60 in our upcoming June/July 2018 issue.

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