Rockwell Collins has provided more details of the flight deck displays, mission systems backbone and other key systems that it is providing for the new Boeing KC-46A tanker.
The company has devoted 200 engineers to the program, many of them previously involved in the commercial avionics business of Rockwell Collins, Mike Jones, senior director of tanker/transport programs, told AIN.
The new U.S. Air Force tanker is based on the 767-200ER airframe, but the flight deck includes four 15.1-inch liquid crystal displays modeled after those on the Boeing 787 Dreamliner. Rockwell Collins is supplying a signal data concentrator network (SDCN) that will translate and route data between avionic components. The SDCN is an avionics, full-duplex, switched-Ethernet (AFDX) backbone based on the Arinc 664 specification. “That’s an AFDX backbone for mission integration,” Jones said. “Rockwell Collins provides to Boeing the network infrastructure and the tools required to perform mission integration of other systems and subsystems that Boeing acquires from other partners.” Rockwell Collins developed an Ethernet system more than a decade ago for the Boeing 767-400ER, and more recently has supplied AFDX system components for the Boeing 787, the Airbus A380 and A350XWB.
Jones said components from other systems will be combined to provide a tactical situational awareness system (TSAS) display for tanker pilots that will fuse information from satcom and Link 16 datalinks and onboard sensors to provide an integrated picture of the operational environment. The TSAS will be able to present threat information to the pilots based on Link 16 communications from other aircraft.
Rockwell Collins is also supplying the new tanker with a remote vision system based on optical sensors configured to provide panoramic and 3-D views. Seated at the separate mission station, the boom operator will be able to guide the boom to the receiving aircraft while viewing a stereoscopic 3-D display through special glasses.