Rockwell Collins Describes ‘Strategic Win’ of KC-390 Avionics

 - July 8, 2011, 6:22 AM
Rockwell Collins Pro Line Fusion-based flight deck of Embraer KC-390 tanker is the first application of the integrated avionics suite on a military aircraft. (Photo: Rockwell Collins)

Rockwell Collins provided AIN with more details of the avionics for the Brazilian KC-390 military transport. The avionics company believes that Embraer’s recent choice represents a strategic win, since it is the first military application of the Pro Line Fusion suite.

Pro Line Fusion is based on an integrated modular avionics architecture, built around common computing modules which host applications software for flight management and a variety of other functions. Since unveiling the system four years ago, Rockwell Collins has been selected for various upcoming business and regional jets as well as the Bombardier C Series narrowbody airliner.

Mike Jones, Rockwell Collins senior director for tanker and transport solutions, noted that Embraer’s previous selection of Pro Line Fusion for the Legacy 450/500 midsize business jet “helped shape the eventual KC-390 avionics requirement.” Nevertheless, Embraer still held a competition, and the selection of Pro Line Fusion “was by no means a shoe-in.”

A main difference for the military flight deck will be to make it night-vision imaging system (NVIS) compatible, Jones said. The KC-390 will have five 15-inch-diagonal, high-resolution liquid crystal displays, an integrated flight information management system with electronic charts and “point-and-click” access, a flight management system with graphical flight planning capability and automated database management. The transport will be equipped for required navigation performance (RNP) 0.3 procedures–the ability to stay within 0.3 nautical miles left or right of centerline on approach.

Jones said Embraer is competing the requirement for head-up displays separately. Rockwell Collins’s Brazilian subsidiary will participate in the Pro Line Fusion integration, as will other Brazilian companies as part of an industrial offset agreement. The companies were in the process of defining military functionalities of the avionics system, which will be certified in parallel with a planned, civil freighter version of the KC-390, Jones said. He declined to specify upcoming milestones other than the planned first flight of the transport in 2014.

Embraer and the Brazilian government launched the KC-390 in April 2009 as a replacement for Brazilian air force C-130s, and have signed Argentina, Chile, Colombia, the Czech Republic and Portugal as strategic partners for potentially hundreds of aircraft. The Brazilian air force thus far has committed to 28.