NBAA Convention News

Collins system sorts cabin/cockpit e-data

 - June 11, 2008, 6:23 AM

Rockwell Collins is banking on its new digital data acquisition, distribution and display architecture, called eFlight, to coordinate a wide range of in-flight and air-to-ground activities aboard aircraft. “Through eFlight, Rockwell Collins will provide aircraft operators with unprecedented access to information and the means to manage that information,” said Greg Churchill, v-p and general manager, Rockwell Collins Business and Regional Systems.

Initial eFlight services include digital ATIS and ATC messaging, plus flight services such as textual and graphical weather, flight following, flight and diplomatic clearances, flight deck e-mail as well as high-speed e-mail, Internet access and passenger services in the cabin.

Collins eFlight is designed to provide new information access capabilities for business and regional aircraft–both for the flight deck and passenger cabin–by providing timely, integrated transfer of information between the aircraft and ground infrastructure, and within the aircraft itself. For the flight deck this includes map overlays, controller-pilot datalink communications (CPDLC) and weather displays. In addition, eFlight will address aircraft operation requirements including time-sensitive updates of FMS databases, automated position and status reporting, maintenance prognostics and dispatch and maintenance releases.

Aft of the cockpit, eFlight will provide, in addition to secure, high-speed access to e-mail and the Internet, cabin and passenger services such as manifest updates and cabin management. As part of implementing eFlight, Collins and Universal Weather and Aviation  have entered into an agreement to provide data and operations management services to the flight deck and flight operations of business aircraft. Universal’s services to be available through Rockwell Collins include flight planning, trip status and textual and graphical weather services bundled in a series of packages. “This agreement with Universal is a step toward providing operators a single point of contact for a variety of aviation services needs,” Churchill said.

The eFlight systems and services will be delivered to business and regional aircraft through the Collins Pro Line 21, Pro Line 21 Continuum and Pro Line 21 CNS product lines. This equipment includes advanced liquid-crystal flight displays, new digital VHF radios, communication management units, control display units, file server units and high-data-rate satcom systems. As the latest of its satcom enhancements, Rockwell Collins has introduced a high-speed (64 kbps connectivity) data communications capability for business aircraft.

An enhancement to the Collins SAT-906 satellite communications system, the HST-900 high-speed transceiver will use the existing SAT-906 antenna and high-power amplifier. The system is equipped with Ethernet, ISDN and RS-232 interfaces for maximum flexibility and allows for simultaneous use of high-speed datalink and Aero H/H+ satcom services, said Churchill. Once installed, the system can be software-upgraded to use emerging high-speed datalinks, minimizing impact to the SAT-906 system.

Available late next year, the HST-900 will initially provide passenger e-mail and Internet access through the Inmarsat satellite system and is provisioned for future Collins eFlight applications as they become available.