Honeywell’s Primus Elite DU-875 Display

May 22, 2018
Options for aging Primus/1000/2000 avionics systems.

First rolled out in 2011, Honeywell’s Primus Elite DU-875 display upgrade is expanding its range of options while attracting new retrofit customers. Honeywell says it’s putting lots of emphasis on retrofit right now. There are a lot of older airplanes that will get a new lease on life with new state-of-the-art displays and software. Estimates are the worldwide business jet market for upgrades at several thousand aircraft.

The ‘Plug and Play’ Players

The big picture is that the Primus Elite DU-875 display upgrades are specially designed for Honeywell Primus 1000/2000/2000XP avionics systems. The upgrades are form-fit and provide powerful graphics and other advanced features.

It’s important to note that not all business jets are certified for Primus Elite DU-875. However, here is the latest tally of aircraft that are certified for the Primus Elite DU-875:

  • Bombardier Global Express XRS and Global 5000
  • Cessna Citation X
  • Cessna Citation 550 / 560* (*DU-875 one-for-one replacement only)    
  • Dornier 328
  • Dassault Falcon F900 EX and C
  • Embraer 600 and 650
  • Lear 40 and 45

You Don’t Need To Have It All

The Honeywell DU-875 is designed so that operators don’t have to replace all display screens at the same time to get in on an upgrade. For the most part, you have the option of replacing one display, several of your displays or all of your displays. This broadens the opportunities for those operators who want to step up, but either not all at one time or just to save money. It’s an affordable way for an operator to begin upgrading the aircraft. You don’t have to remove all displays out of your cockpit. At least not in one fell swoop.

All of this flexibility begs a question that more and more business jet operators are asking, Why not just get the old CRT repaired one more time? The answer is simple: Honeywell can no longer repair this now obsolete technology. CRTs constituted a quantum leap over analog round dial aircraft, but they just can’t compare with the features or the reliability of modern LCDs.

Occupying the left seat of an aircraft that recently completed such display upgrade is Joey Meier, corporate pilot for NASCAR stock-car star driver Brad Keselowski. Meier also holds an Airframe and Powerplant certificate. This gives him unique perspective on what it’s like not just to fly, but work on, Keselowski’s Lear 45. The aircraft racks up some 220 hours of flight time per year. That translates into 180 cycles.

Meier says, “One of the first things you notice when you put in the new LCD displays is that they’re considerably lighter,” about 7 pounds lighter. By replacing the old CRT tubes on the airplane with liquid crystal display screens (LCD) Meier says that 28 pounds is not inconsequential.

That’s not the only feature of Primus Elite 875 displays that makes it a marked departure from the old days, he said, "When you cranked them up and turned on the power… the old CRT [fans] really ran quite a bit. These new LCDs don’t emit as much [heat].” The new LCDs don’t require cooling fans and the aircraft ducting that goes along with them. Primus Elite DU-875 can make a decided difference in terms of pilot cockpit comfort, especially during the summertime.

Then here’s this observation: Meier says the LCD images projected by the LCDs are easier to read. With CRTs, “There’s always been this haze, a kind of fuzz to letters. With LCDs you have defined, crisp letters, it's much clearer.”

The Cost Factor

A four-display suite was installed on the Lear 45 he pilots early in 2018. Honeywell says on average it takes significantly less downtime to install Primus Elite DU-875.

Meier says it’s too soon for him to talk about longevity simply because “We haven’t used them that long.” However, Honeywell’s projection is that Primus Elite DU-875 virtually doubles reliability over older CRTs.

Operators like Keselowski can save in aggregate around $165,000 over the first three years of use. Here’s how it breaks down:

  • One full year of the Honeywell Avionics Protection Plan (HAPP) equals $45,000
  • Two subsequent years of HAPP render $20,000 of savings
  • On average, weight savings of 50 pounds coupled with a similar savings in paper weight shave off enough pounds to produce a formidable $100,000 over a three-year period.

Depending on your aircraft, the synthetic vision software isn’t yet certified for all aircraft that can accept DU-875. As of this writing it was a work in progress. Neither the Dornier 328 nor the Lear 45 have been fully STC’d (supplemental type certificate) for Primus Elite software. The Primus Elite software for the Lear 45 is expected in late May or early June.

Opening Up More Options

Honeywell hasn’t been resting on its laurels since first rolling out Primus Elite seven years ago. Perhaps the star of the show is Primus Elite Advanced Features which include Honeywell’s Synthetic Vision System, or SVS.

Honeywell SVS projects 3-D color images of runways, surrounding terrain and obstacles.

Say you’re approaching an unfamiliar airport, and the weather conditions are strictly IFR. With visibility of fewer than three miles and a ceiling of less than 1,000 feet, a look-see of what lies ahead of you is welcome. That’s where Primus Elite’s SVS comes into play. If you’re piloting an aircraft with the full complement of Primus Elite displays and software you can take advantage of the potentially life-saving technology Honeywell’s Synthetic Vision System offers.

The idea is to provide increased situational awareness via enhanced graphics. Other advanced features include electronic charts and maps. There’s geo-referenced location capability display that pinpoints your position as well as XM weather and video. Add to the package graphical cues that reduce pilot scan as well as data which facilitates decisions, smoothing the sort of quick transitions you may have to make to change flight profiles due to weather or air traffic control.

The Synthetic Vision Option is limited to Global Express, Falcon EX/C and Legacy 650 today but is coming soon on other aircraft models.

Primus Elite is just one of the things Honeywell does to render business jet flying safer. Primus Elite displays and Advanced Features also boosts the resale value of your aircraft. The ability of new cockpit technology upgrades such as those available on Primus Elite DU-875 to boost that resale premium is well documented in the Aircraft Blue Book.

Operational economics, safety and marketability of that formerly CRT centric business jet you own — they work in concert to offer a potent, practical package: Primus Elite DU-875.

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