In case you havent noticed, the glass cockpit concept is now into its third decade and although progress has been steady, its also been slow. The basic displays havent changed much and the human interfacethe buttonologyis long overdue for an overhaul. And thats exactly what Rockwell Collins is doing with its latest EFIS product, which its calling Pro Line Fusion, a clean sheet design thats the next generation from the industry standard Pro Line 21.
Says Denny Helgeson, Rockwell Collins VP for business and regional aviation systems, Fusions architecture will concentrate on flexibility to easily integrate with external sensors and products of all kinds. Rather than the usual soft keys and knobs, it will have a graphic user interface more in tune with desktop computing logic than traditional avionics. Voice recognition and context sensitive logic are also planned as prominent features. The system will display on high-resolution LCDs and will integrate both GPS-derived synthetic and real-time enhanced vision capability, a first for the industry. The system will also have heads-up display capability.
If all that sounds neat, it is. But dont expect it next year. Or even the year after. Bombardiers Global Express XRS/5000 series is the launch customer and Fusion isnt expected to enter service on those airplanes until 2011, although elements of it may appear sooner than that. Meanwhile, Helgeson says the companys popular Pro Line 21 will continue as a discrete product and will likely integrate some features developed for Fusion.