A new flightdeck for the Super Star
Since the early days of the Lockheed Super Star project it has been clear that the flightdeck layout of the Deutsche Lufthansa Berlin-Stiftung (DLBS)'s future historic aircraft could not remain in its original form. This is largely due to the fact that the DLBS wants to certify the Super Star in the highest certification class, as a civil aircraft for the commercial transportation of passengers.
With its planned registration as a commercial passenger aircraft the L-1649A will in the future be no different in the matter of certification class from the other aircraft types in the Lufthansa fleet that are used for the daily flying operations of Lufthansa German Airlines. However, the layout and functioning of the instruments on the pilot panel, which is based on a design from the 1930s, does not comply with today's requirements from the certification authorities, nor is it compatible with the implementation of modern safety and human factors standards. The apparently simplest solution, to add modern instruments to the historic displays, was ruled out from the beginning due to constraints in the amount of space available, for, unlike other aircraft types from the 1950s, the Lockheed Super Star has a very narrow nose that offers very little room for the instrument panel.
The only alternative was therefore to combine several flying instruments on modern screen displays in a glass cockpit and thus to find the best possible compromise between today's requirements and the meager amount of space available. "This realization right from the start resulted in extensive negotiations with the authorities, suppliers and internal parties, not least with the pilots of the DLBS," says Hans-Juergen Rohwer, the member of the Hamburg Super Star team who is responsible for the flightdeck redesign. Working closely with Engineering in Auburn under the direction of Dr. Rainer Sebus, Rohwer drew up preliminary plans, only to then reject them. Eventually an entirely new approach was approved by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and enthusiastically adopted by the project team.
A meeting between the CEOs of Honeywell and Lufthansa Technik determined the approach for the solution now implemented of a Honeywell avionics suite originally developed for the Lockheed C-130 Hercules transport aircraft. The spark of enthusiasm for the Super Star project quickly gripped the Board of Management of Honeywell, which is now sponsoring this avionics suite for the L-1649A. "The basic question was whether the Hercules suite would fit into the Super Star. It does!" Rohwer is delighted to report. For the purposes of Super Star navigation the Honeywell flight management system supplies data to the flight director, which converts these commands into visual displays for the pilots. The flight director also supplies the control inputs to the Bendix PB 20 autopilot.
The four big displays, two on the captain's side and two on the co-pilot's side, are the most striking innovation in the cockpit. However, Rohwer has not stopped here: hardly any of the other panels have been left untouched either. Thus, the overhead panel has been reorganized in accordance with Airbus and Boeing standards and fitted with lightplates and modern switches. In the future, modern radio management units will be found on the left and right of the pilots. These will also be used to control the Traffic Alert and Collision Avoidance System (TCAS) and the transponder settings. In the first modification phase, which is taking place in Auburn prior to the maiden flight, only the flight engineer's panel remains untouched.