You Can Hear Me Now - Becker Avionics’ Digital Voice Communication System
R. Fred Polak | Editor
Conversations on airplanes between flight crew and between passengers can be noisy and difficult at times. Try doing it on a helicopter and it becomes even more difficult. Effective communication for the helicopter crew is a key part of cockpit resource management, and Becker Avionics’ third-generation DVCS6100 digital voice communication system is up for the task.
It offers crystal-clear voice communication quality, outstanding reliability, scalability and flexibility, and is software configurable. The main system components of the DVCS6100 system are the remote electronic unit (REU) 6100, the audio control unit (ACU) 6100, and the optional intercom amplifier IC3100. This high-tech product offers up to eight communication transmit (TX) and up to eight receiver (RX) channels, an integrated warning tone generator for up to eight discrete signals, an amplifier for two cockpit speakers, and interface capability for two cockpit voice recorders (CVR), and a public address (PA) amplifier.
The system has been optimized for use in helicopters through a proven man-machine-interface (MMI). Becker Avionics has also recently introduced new fixed-wing ACU panel designs, further expanding its product reach on more aircraft platforms. The design of its ACU knobs and switches, along with the unique tactile feel of these controls, sets it apart from other audio management systems. It uses robust, military-style bayonet connectors on the back of the ACUs, which are resistant to vibration and moisture. When compared to a legacy analog audio system, digital technology provides simplified installation, improved performance, reduced wiring and weight, along with reduced installation and maintenance costs.
The DVCS6100 is a stand-alone self-contained digital intercom system. System power is standard aircraft 28vDC and the audio control panels are back lit in night vision instrument system (NVIS) green or white lighting.
Up to six ACUs can be operated together with one REU. The whole system is configured with the included software to give complete adjustments across different on-board radio systems. Becker’s DVCS6100 digital audio and intercom system has the unique ability to manage and control all audio sources in the aircraft effectively. With its software configurable profiles, it provides the flexibility to customize the system to meet the demanding operational requirements of any customer. The DVCS6100 manages all transceivers, receivers and audio warning sources in one central system and provides simulcast capabilities on up to eight channels, along with a new radio relay feature.
The DVCS6100 is currently TC’d on several aircraft models, including the Eurocopter EC-135, EC-145, and Bell 429. This product is TSO’d in the U.S. and ETSO’d in Europe.
OEMs and completion centers would typically install the Becker DVCS6100. However, any aviation facility that has an experienced avionics technician can accomplish this task. Average installation time can vary depending on the system complexity and the size of the aircraft, but usually between 35-40 man hours are required to install the product. This is approximately 70-80 percent less than the required time to install a comparable legacy analog intercom system. That’s a significant savings in installation man hours.
Other than ensuring there is proper aircraft voltage, along with using a shielded twisted pair for each controller area network (CAN) bus and a reset line for the ACUs, the installation of the DVCS6100 system is fairly straightforward. There are no special electrical or mechanical considerations that need to be taken into account. The customer just needs to decide where they want the REU and maintenance data terminal/port to be located in the aircraft. The REU has two mounting options, a standard avionics mounting tray or fixed bulkhead mounting. There are simple ground connections needed for both the REU and ACUs.
The product employs CAN-bus technology. There are two CAN busses integrated into the REU. CAN-bus technology originated in the automotive industry and is a reliable, robust and high-bandwidth digital bus. That’s why Becker, Boeing and Airbus use CAN-bus technology.
Tests and Calibration
On each ACU panel there is a built-in test (BIT) button. This feature enables the pilot or line maintenance crews to easily diagnose/isolate failures and to replace system components quickly. The ACU BIT button checks the electrical and circuit integrity of the DVCS6100 down to the circuit board level in the REU and ACUs.
There is no field calibration required, per se. The only requirement is to adjust the system configuration software (CSW). It is used to control and optimize the DVCS6100 for the customer’s specific headset or helmet microphones, and transceivers and receivers used in their operational environment. It’s a simple Windows-based program that comes with the DVCS6100 system package.
As mentioned, the DVCS6100 is programmed via CSW by the customer avionics or maintenance technician. There are a multitude of settings in the CSW that control the system. These adjustments include microphone impedance levels, VOX sensitivity/on-off, ACU transceiver and receiver volume control/on-off, cabin speaker controls, isolation ring adjustments, alert tone adjustments, etc. It really is a powerful tool to assist customers in fine tuning the digital intercom system to their specific needs.
Maintenance and Lessons Learned
Maintenance of the system is pretty simple. There are no displays to clean, so common sense and approved maintenance practices should do it. There are no scheduled servicing tasks other than performing the daily BIT, back up and slave checks.
Proper set-up of the CSW is vital to optimize the system for best performance.
One of the important considerations for new customers is adequate training regarding accurate adjustment for the CSW controls. Once they’ve been trained and have experience adjusting the CSW to their mission needs, the DVCS6100 is an extremely effective high-tech product that enhances the customer’s operational capability. Last but not least, proper installation and grounding of the system is key to reliable and optimum performance of the product.
There are almost 1,000 Becker DVCS systems delivered to date worldwide, all flying on a variety of fixed wing and rotorcraft platforms. The DVCS6100 is proving to be a very successful product for Becker Avionics. I understand its third-generation system is on the drawing board now, with many new features and enhanced technology. With the DVCS6100, you really can hear me now.