By the end of June, Kelly Ortberg, currently president of Rockwell Collins, will transition into the CEO seat following the retirement of chairman and CEO Clay Jones. Ortberg, 52, has worked for Rockwell Collins (Chalet B19, Hall2b,Stand D108) for the past 26 years, including running both the commercial aviation and government businesses as COO.
“In a macro sense, this is a full-steam-ahead transition, not a course-changing transition,” Ortberg told AIN. “I’ve been part and parcel to most of the key business strategies that have been put in place, and you’re not going to see a major shift in direction from me because I fundamentally believe in the direction we’re headed.”
In the business aviation market, the Pro Line Fusion flight deck “has been well received in the market,” he said, “and we’re very intently getting those into service.” The first jets in service with Pro Line Fusion were the Bombardier Global 5000/6000 series and Gulfstream’s new G280 (although the systems are branded as Gulfstream PlaneView in the G280 and Vision in the Global jets). Pro Line Fusion is slated for the commercial Mitsubishi MRJ and Bombardier CSeries and military Embraer KC-390 tanker.
Pro Line Fusion was also recently chosen for the AgustaWestland AW609 TiltRotor, using the embedded display version with touch-screen displays, designed for turboprops and light jets. The embedded display version of Fusion features processors built into the smart displays, while the larger aircraft Fusion systems use centrally located processing installed in an avionics cabinet. “One of the challenges, particularly in light [aircraft] and bizjets,” he said, “is they just don’t have room for a central processing-type architecture. The amount of processing needed for a [smaller] bizjet versus an air transport aircraft is quite a bit different,” he said. “We’re able to put that processing in the display in those lower-end applications.”
But overall technology costs are dropping, Ortberg pointed out. “We’re moving to a more centralized architecture where more of the processing is less distributed and more centralized. The beauty of that is more software-based solutions. We’ll be able to provide enhancements and updates, where in the past you may have had to buy a new box that did that new feature.”
Wider use of touch screens is coming. “Business aviation is the trial ground for new technologies,” he said, “to bring them in and then stabilize those technologies and move upmarket.” More new pilots are familiar with new technology, such as touch screens, fly-by-wire sidestick controls and, Ortberg said, “a much more integrated digital and real-life human interface.” This fits well with Rockwell Collins’s Head-up Guidance System division, which manufacturers the head-up displays (HUDs).
HUD is a good example of business aviation driving technology, with the HUD in the Bombardier Vision Flight Deck displaying synthetic-vision imagery on the HUD combiner display. Meanwhile, work continues on the HGS 3500 compact HUD for turboprops and light jets. “We’re in full development on that,” Ortberg said. “We think this new HGS 3500 will provide entrée into that lower-end market.”
Rockwell Collins is highlighting Pro Line Fusion at the Paris Air Show, new displays for Boeing’s 737 Max and a new helicopter situational awareness system that combines synthetic vision with terrain awareness, called HeliSure. “We’re also focusing on our new Paves on-demand single-aisle in-flight entertainment solution,” Ortberg said. “On the military side we’ve got a new product that’s just been certified with NSA to provide Link 16 connectivity, called Tacnet Tactical Radio, which is the smallest version of Link 16 available.”