Next-Gen Glass Cockpit from Rockwell Collins

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In case you havenít noticed, the glass cockpit concept is now into its third decade and although progress has been steady, itís also been slow. The basic displays havenít changed much and the human interfaceóthe buttonologyóis long overdue for an overhaul. And thatís exactly what Rockwell Collins is doing with its latest EFIS product, which itís calling Pro Line Fusion, a clean sheet design thatís the next generation from the industry standard Pro Line 21.

Says Denny Helgeson, Rockwell Collinís VP for business and regional aviation systems, Fusionís 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 donít expect it next year. Or even the year after. Bombardierís Global Express XRS/5000 series is the launch customer and Fusion isnít expected to enter service on those airplanes until 2011, although elements of it may appear sooner than that. Meanwhile, Helgeson says the companyís popular Pro Line 21 will continue as a discrete product and will likely integrate some features developed for Fusion.