Collins Delivers Avionics for NASA's Supersonic X-59

 - May 12, 2021, 9:52 AM
Collins tailored an avionics suite based on the Pro Line Fusion system for the X-59 that includes SVS and EVS to help account for the lack of forward-looking windows. (Photo: Collins Aerospace)

Collins Aerospace has handed over the avionics system for NASA's  X-59, bringing the Quiet SuperSonic Technology (QueSST) research aircraft a step closer to its first flight in 2022. Being built at Lockheed Martin’s Skunk Works facility in Palmdale, California, the X-59 will be used to conduct sonic boom trials over various population centers to generate noise data that could be used to ultimately develop new international standards for supersonic transport.

Collins is providing a Pro Line Fusion-based avionics system that is designed to accommodate the unusual design of the X-59, including a lack of forward-looking windows. “We are bringing Pro Line Fusion to the world of supersonic with an optimized solution for the X-59,” said Peeter Soot, Collins Aerospace senior director of marketing for avionics. “It has no forward-looking windscreen, so we are adding EVS [enhanced vision] and SVS [synthetic vision] to give pilots all the visual references they need. And we are introducing touchscreens and a new HUD to combine all the images, and a suite of navigation and surveillance equipment.”

Working with Lockheed Martin and NASA on software applications, Collins tailored a large-format touchscreen display system with multifunction windows and a range of navigation, communication, and other systems to help the pilot to safely fly and land in all weather conditions, the company said. The company is incorporating HUD symbology, synthetic vision, ARC-210 communication radios, and the Collins multi-spectral enhanced vision system (EVS-3600), which uses advanced visual sensors and multiple-wavelength infrared technology.

Buttressing these systems will be NASA’s eXternal Vision System, which uses a 4K monitor to display images from two cameras outside the aircraft combined with terrain data. The X-59 will incorporate a long, slender airframe with a 30-foot-long nose that will help achieve supersonic speeds with a low-boom or “sonic thump,” defraying the noise impacts.

“The X-59 is expected to create a noise about as loud as a car door closing instead of a sonic boom when it breaks the sound barrier,” said Dave Schreck, vice president and general manager for military avionics and helicopters at Collins Aerospace. “This aircraft has the ability to shape the future of supersonic travel and our avionics are helping make this revolutionary aircraft a reality. We’re excited as we count down the days until we see it fly.”