Singapore Air Show

Collins follows silk road, finds riches here in Asia

 - February 2, 2010, 12:45 AM

Rockwell Collins (Stand U77) is truly in growth mode here in the Asia-Pacific region, where the company continues to invest in strategic alliances and projects such as a new engineering facility in Hyderabad, India. The U.S. avionics group has built a team of employees covering 14 locations throughout the region.

The facility in Hyderabad, dedicated to the development of hardware and software for cockpit displays and flight management systems. It already employs nearly 150 people and plans call for the company to add another 350 by 2015.

Recent sales successes in the region include a contract to supply China’s Hainan Airlines with the company’s multi-scan hazard detection system and sensors for 13 Airbus A330s. The multi-scan system analyzes and determines actual weather hazards, not simply atmospheric moisture content. Rockwell Collins plans to begin deliveries this year.

At the start of the year Collins Aviation Maintenance Services Shanghai (CAMSS) launched a 10-year maintenance agreement with Air China that calls for the Rockwell Collins joint venture to provide service and support for the airline’s entire fleet. A corresponding agreement with maintenance provider Ameco to jointly support Air China’s installed base of Rockwell Collins avionics equipment under a price per flight hour program for 10 years also began on January 1.

Here at the show, Rockwell Collins is marking another recent deal it signed with Cebu Pacific Air of the Philippines to provide a full suite of communication, navigation and surveillance systems as baseline equipment for the airline’s 15 recently ordered Airbus A320s. The contract also covers options on five more of the airplanes.

Rockwell Collins’ exhibit includes a video presentation of the multi-scan hazard detection radar, an interactive demonstration of its head-up guidance system, a presentation of its avionics retrofit offerings for business aircraft, an interactive look at its Venue cabin management system and a presentation on the company’s dPAVES in-flight entertainment system for single-aisle aircraft.

Interational Focus

With one third of Rockwell Collins’ sales now coming from outside the U.S., markets such as Asia-Pacific have assumed new prominence in the formulation of the company’s growth plan and investment strategies. As a result, company vice president and managing director for Asia-Pacific Thud Chee Chan can ill-afford to lose his laser focus on cultivating and maintaining relationships with the company’s commercial and government partners in this region.

Chan leads a group of professionals in the region based in offices in India, China, Japan and Australia, as well as 120 maintenance personnel here in Singapore. Part of Rockwell Collins’ International business, Chan’s Asia-Pacific sphere of influence covers programs such as the China’s Comac ARJ21, the Mitsubishi MRJ and the Chinese MA-60/MA600 turboprops, all of which use Rockwell Collins avionics systems.

A contract signed last summer with China’s Xian Aviation Science and Technology Co. (XASC) to supply simulators and training for the MA-60 and MA-600 turboprops “represents [the company’s] first breakthrough in the simulator market” in the region, Chan told AIN on the eve of the show. Chan said he expects the company to begin installing the simulators–in cooperation with Beijing’s BASC–by the middle of this year.

Meanwhile, Rockwell Collins is competing for a series of work packages on the new Comac C919 airliner. Scheduled for introduction in 2016, the C919 with need several “packages,” said Chan, including communication, navigation, displays, cabin systems and information management. Comac is expected to grant awards for the various packages by midyear.

While recognizing that China accounts for perhaps the biggest portion of civil aviation demand in the region, Rockwell Collins’ pursuit of a balanced portfolio has it vying for government business, which resides mainly outside China, most notably in India. The Indian military has embarked on an upgrade program for its communication networks, as well as programs centering on newer avionics and systems, noted Chan.

Apart from its standing as an important market for Rockwell Collins in its own right, India, of course, acts a center of technology development for the company’s worldwide customer base. Rockwell Collins also maintains a so-called liaison office in Delhi, where five people help maintain relationships with both the military establishment and commercial customers. Another customer service engineer works out of Mumbai.

Chan acknowledged that India perhaps represents his most challenging market in some respects, due largely to its highly bureaucratic nature. “It takes a lot of patience, but it’s worth the wait,” he told AIN.

Currently developing a strategy for further international expansion, Rockwell Collins expects its business outside the U.S. to account for 40 percent of its total sales by 2020, said Chan. In Asia, much of that growth will come from support of such programs as the Boeing 787–described by Chan as one of Rockwell Collins’ largest platforms.