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Talking To The Principal About Cabin Management Obsolescence

December 2020


The principal owner of an aircraft is often not involved in the day-to-day operations of the asset. They rely on the expertise of the Director of Maintenance and flight department to make these tactical decisions.

However, they do keep a sharp eye on the bottom line and, from time to time, may want to know more to understand better the cost of maintenance and service of their aircraft.

This Talking To The Principal series will arm you with valuable information to quickly and satisfactorily address these questions.

This issue of Talking to the Principal is about how a CMS (Cabin Management Systems) is more than just inflight entertainment and how obsolete technology could be putting your aircraft at risk of not being able to dispatch on schedule.

CMS: More Than Cabin Entertainment

When we think about the CMS, we typically think of the Inflight Entertainment side of the system such as audio and video for watching movies. With so many available mobile devices, such as phones and tablets, it is common to wonder why an obsolete CMS system is worth addressing.

The answer is because CMS also provides extremely important control functions including lighting control, cabin briefing, lavatory operation, and all galley functions. If the CMS system goes down, you are literally left in the dark.

Unfortunately, because of this line of thinking, many high-end business jets are flying with obsolete CMS systems that are getting harder and harder to maintain.


Cabin Management Systems from Audio International and Pacific Systems are facing obsolescence issues as are earlier versions of CMS from Collins Aerospace and Honeywell (Baker).

Here are some of the affected platforms with their corresponding forward-fit CMS:

  • Early Bombardier Challenger 300 (Audio International)
  • Falcon 50, 900, and 2000 models (Audio International)
  • Bombardier Global Express (Honeywell Baker and Collins CES)
  • Gulfstream GIV and GV (Pacific Systems)
  • Gulfstream G450 and G550 (Collins ACMS)
  • Bombardier Challenger 601 and 604 (Honeywell Baker and Audio International)
  • Cessna Citation X (Pacific Systems)

Fortunately for aircraft owners, there are multiple CMS retrofit options available. Not only are there multiple companies making CMS systems, each system has extensive customization options to better fit the aircraft owners’ needs and price point.

Here is a look at some of the more popular retrofit options.

Scalable, Lower Cost, Options. Some CMS companies, such as ALTO Aviation, specialize in building replacement CMS systems that resolve obsolescence issues while requiring little to no woodwork modification. This can provide significant savings as wood refinishing is often one of the biggest costs to upgrade the CMS. These systems allow aircraft owners to forego any Inflight Entertainment (IFE) upgrades. They are scalable so IFE can be added later, if desired.

Fully Integrated Options. There are also multiple options for owners who want to modernize with a fully integrated system. Collins Aerospace Venue, Honeywell Ovation Select, and Lufthansa Technik Nice systems all offer updated features including touch-screen control, iPad remote control, High Definition Video, and Surround Sound, out of the gate. These systems are extremely customizable to meet the needs of the owner. They often require extensive wood refinishing to fit the new control panels.   

Refresh The Existing System. Last but not least, both Collins Aerospace and Honeywell have programs to upgrade some of their older CMS systems with newer components. Depending on your aircraft, this might also be a good option.


As you can see, there are many obsolete systems out there as well as many possible solutions. It can be overwhelming. The best thing you can do, once you determine whether you have an obsolete CMS putting your aircraft dispatch reliability at risk, is reach out to a Duncan Aviation avionics expert. Finding the right solution is easy once we determine which features are most important to the owner and regular passengers. We can work out a plan and timeline that works for you and fits your maintenance schedule.