A Boeing B-1 bomber aircraft, for the US Air Force, has successfully completed the phase I of flight tests, following an upgrade with fully integrated data link (FIDL).

B-1 FIDL programme manager for Boeing Eric Vanderslice said the upgrade replaced 25-year-old avionics processing, displays and keyboards.

“The new avionics also changes the configuration of the limited display space that helps the crew perform the aircraft’s mission,” he said.

“We are going from bulky cathode-ray-tube screens to higher-functioning flat-panel displays, giving crews more situational awareness and more space.”

The first phase included observations of the crew’s acclimatisation to the new configuration, temperature and vibration tests on the new hardware, and functionality tests of all the display-related software upgrades, including the new moving maps.

The FIDL, an 8in by 10in flat-panel display shows a picture of the terrain below that changes as the aircraft moves.

In order for the moving map to provide a continuously updated display of the route, the B-1 crews will have to enter their destination and flight path before departure.

With the completion of the first phase, now the programmed depot maintenance of the B-1 aircraft will begin at the Tinker Air Force Base, Okla.

The second phase, which will begin at Edwards in April 2010 and run for ten months, will include remaining works on the software flight-test objectives.

The air force will award the production contract of FIDL installation kits for the entire B-1 fleet in November 2010.