Paris 2011: Rockwell Collins Pro Line Fusion Passes Certification Milestones

Paris Air Show » 2011
June 21, 2011, 1:40 AM

Four years after unveiling its next-generation Pro Line Fusion integrated avionics suite, Rockwell Collins (Hall 4 A18) has surpassed major certification milestones. Now the company is leveraging the system up and down the civil aircraft market and across to the military market as well.

“Literally every new aircraft, every new order brings content for Rockwell Collins,” said Kent Statler, Rockwell Collins executive vice president and chief operating officer, Commercial Systems.

Last week, Rockwell Collins announced Transport Canada certification of the Pro Line Fusion-based Global Vision flight deck on Bombardier’s Global 5000 and 6000 business jets–the first certification of the system on a customer aircraft. Certifications from U.S. Federal Aviation Administration and the European Aviation Safety Agency are expected to follow this year, with entry into service on track for early next year, according to the company.

“We’re very proud of that,” Statler said. “We reached all of our TSOs [technical standard orders] through FAA about 30 days ago. We’re proceeding with lightning speed with getting that aircraft into service and the nine other platforms” that have specified Pro Line Fusion for avionics.

Pro Line Fusion raises the bar for avionics functionality, ease of use and situational awareness, he added.

Bombardier (Chalet A256) and Rockwell Collins will be the first partners to certify synthetic vision on a head-up display as part of the Global Vision flight deck. The companies recently conducted a series of tests using a Global 5000 to validate synthetic vision on the Rockwell Collins head-up guidance system (HGS) for lower landing minimums during special authorization Cat 1 ILS and WAAS localizer performance with vertical guidance (LPV) approaches.

“Obviously, the price has to be compelling to fit the market,” Statler said. “The Holy Grail was the form factor,” which was downsized by integrating the system components. “We’ve seen this trend coming for quite some time and have been investing some dollars” on the technology.

Pro Line Fusion also has been specified for the Gulfstream G250, Learjet 85, Embraer Legacy 450/500, Mitsubishi Regional Jet and Bombardier CSeries. The ARJ-21 regional jet built by Commercial Aircraft Corporation of China (Comac) is equipped with a Pro Line Fusion backbone and Pro Line 21 displays.

Now Pro Line Fusion is moving into the military market. Embraer Defense and Security has specified the avionics solution for its KC-390 tanker, expected to enter service in late 2015. Brazil’s air force has committed to purchasing 28 KC-390s.

At a press briefing at the Paris Air Show on Monday, Rockwell Collins executives outlined future research-and-development directions for Pro Line Fusion, including an “image-augmented navigation” capability, which would fuses data from multiple sensors (including inertial measurement, GPS, visual or electro-optical/infrared imagery and weather radar). The goal is to enhance the pilots’ situational awareness, help them avert weather emergencies and facilitate more accurate flight planning. The springboard for the research was work Rockwell Collins did into damage tolerance and safe recovery of unmanned aerial vehicles after structural or engine failure.

“We are beginning to talk about how do we get some of the recovery modes that we’ve been demonstrating in the world of unmanned systems and in the world of subscale demonstrators into our commercial air transport, business and regional solutions,” said David Vos, Rockwell Collins director of unmanned aircraft systems. “We will be talking pretty seriously about what level of emergency recovery modes will be coming along in the next generation of Pro Line Fusion for manned aviation.

Jeff Standerski, vice president and general manager for Air Transport Systems, said the company is investigating the use of its MultiScan weather radar to enhance situational awareness on the ground and to protect against runway incursions and other hazards.

“Today is the integration of the synthetic and the enhanced vision picture, both heads-up and heads-down,” said Standerski. “In the future would be to augment that even further with weather radar [data] to provide as much situational awareness as possible for the pilot whether he’s on the ground or in flight.”

Asked if the weather radar would be used to paint moving aircraft on the ground, Vos said, “You can tailor the spectrum of the radar as well as the signal processing of the returns and you can use it for detection of solid objects whether they’re airborne or on the ground. Therefore, you’re adding in not just rain and storm detection, but you’re also tracking solid objects.”

During a Paris Air Show that is showcasing new airframes–headlined by the Boeing 787 Dreamliner and 747-8 Freighter–and expected new orders, the Cedar Rapids, Iowa company has other stories to tell. Among other systems, the company provides the integrated displays and pilot controls on the 787, the largest Rockwell Collins content on a Boeing air transport aircraft.

The coming Airbus A350XWB represents the most-ever content for Rockwell Collins on an Airbus platform, covering six equipment packages. The avionics manufacturer is supplying displays, autopilot, comm/nav, surveillance, maintenance, emergency and data management systems for the Boeing 747-8 family.

Statler said Rockwell Collins is in the joint development phase, and finalizing joint ventures, with Chinese companies for avionics specified on the Comac C919 airliner. The company is working with Leihua Electronic Technology Research Institute (Letri) on the aircraft’s integrated surveillance system and Cetc-A on the comm/nav suite. It also is providing the in-flight entertainment and cabin management systems on the C919, expected to enter service in 2016.

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