Paris Air Show

Collins permits A380 to talk to itself

 - December 15, 2006, 1:11 PM

Rockwell Collins continues to increase its presence aboard the Airbus A380, most recently by securing multimillion-dollar contracts to supply the avionics communications routers and airline operational communications applications for the mega airliner.

The avionics router provides datalink connectivity between the airplane and ground-based systems and the operational communications suite lets airlines tailor their own internal communications. Rockwell Collins France, a wholly owned subsidiary of the U.S. avionics manufacturer, will perform development work for both systems.

The onboard router Collins plans to develop will support the airborne communications protocol known as ACARS, as well as include provisions for a future datalink communications protocol with air traffic controllers known as the aeronautical telecommunications network.

These latest contract awards for systems aboard the A380 follow earlier contracts for the airplane’s communications and navigation systems, as well as additional networking components that will enable data transfer between various aircraft systems. In fact, the A380’s electrical logic can be thought of much like a giant computer network made up of an array of systems that all must communicate.

Essential Switch

The heart of the Collins network for the airplane is known as the AFDX switch. The switch essentially is a module within the A380’s Ethernet network that provides the communications infrastructure to connect aircraft systems including displays, radios and navigation sensors. This switch creates a high-bandwidth information network that can support advanced data capabilities, important for future avionics requirements.

The list of equipment Collins has been tapped to supply for the A380 also includes the VHF-920 data radio, HF-900 data radio, the multimode receiver and VOR-900, DME-900 and ADF-900 nav receivers. The multimode receiver provides the airplane’s primary position, velocity and time reference and is interoperable with a range of instrument and satellite-based landing systems.

Apart from the A380, Airbus and a number of airlines have also selected Rockwell Collins to supply a variety of aircraft systems. Airbus has asked Collins to integrate the aeronautical telecommunications router in the air traffic services unit of its single-aisle and long-range aircraft. Collins said the new system would provide better service than current ACARS equipment, as well as provide an upgrade path for future communications capabilities.

Among its airline customers, Collins has received orders from Shenzhen Airlines, China Eastern Airlines and Alitalia for various systems. Shenzhen has selected Rockwell Collins sensors, radar and satcom for six new Airbus A319/A320s, plus options on 14 additional airplanes. The package of equipment Collins will supply includes the WXR-2100 weather radar, ADF-900, DME-900, HFS-900 high frequency system, CPL-920D coupling unit, VHF-920 tranceiver, VOR-900 and Aero-I satcom.