Rockwell Collins Retrofits Improve Passenger Experience
Rockwell Collins unveiled two key cabin systems programs at its EBACE press conference yesterday, including expansion of the capabilities of the Tailwind 550 Direct Broadcast Satellite TV system and introduction of a Venue HD (high-definition) retrofit for Bombardier Global jets.
The Tailwind 550 upgrade involves replacement of the fuselage-mounted antenna with a new antenna system that improves coverage and reliability. “Right now [coverage] is predominately in North America, but limited in Europe and the Middle East,” said Greg Irmen, Rockwell Collins vice president and general manager, flight controls and information systems. The new antenna, a drop-in replacement for the existing antenna, enables improved connection to satellites over Europe and the Middle East and live streaming of high-definition MPEG-4 content in those regions.
“We’re giving customers high-definition widescreen digital video into the cabin,” he said. “This has been a good product for the North America market, and now we’re bringing value to those flyers in Europe and the Middle East and anybody who flies over the pond [Atlantic Ocean].”
The new Tailwind 550 antenna is available now and is priced at about $740,000 for both retrofit and forward-fit installations.
Also in the cabin retrofit arena, Rockwell Collins is offering its Venue-based high-definition (HD) cabin system to operators of Bombardier Global XRS and 5000 models equipped with the Rockwell Collins cabin electronic system (CES). The new Venue HD system will be available for these jets starting in mid-2015, and EBACE attendees can view a demonstration of Venue HD mounted in a cabin/seating mockup at the Rockwell Collins exhibit (Stand 6129).
Venue HD runs on a fiber-optic backbone, which facilitates installation in all sizes of aircraft. “It’s much lighter than copper,” Irmen said, “and has high bandwidth and is scalable because of the Ethernet aspects of fiber.” Installation of the Venue HD upgrade is also easier because Rockwell Collins knows all of the details of the CES system that is being replaced. “We can hit the turn time in a matter of days with our dealers,” he said. The ideal time for upgrade to the Venue HD system is during the 8C check because it can be done during the inspection without adding any extra downtime, he added.
For operators of smaller jets and turboprops, Rockwell Collins is offering the combined Airshow 500 and Skybox content distribution device as a solution for delivering real-time flight information and entertainment and business content to passenger devices. “This is a cost-effective solution for operators to get that capability onto small business aircraft,” Irmen said. The list price for Airshow 500 is $15,000, and Skybox prices range from $25,000 to $35,000, depending on the size of the internal hard drive.
According to Rockwell Collins, “Skybox is the first airworthy solution to securely stream digital rights management Hollywood-protected content both to cabin displays and to Apple devices brought onboard.”