ROCKWELL-COLLINS has embarked on the next step in development of its Pro Line 21 integrated avionics for business and regional aircraft.

The US company is testing prototypes of an advanced processing architecture and is evaluating new human-computer interface concepts in a working cockpit mock-up.

Pro Line 21 equipment now being delivered to Raytheon, for the Premier I business jet, represents the first phase of development, Collins says. This has large-format liquid-crystal displays, but retains the cabinet-based processing architecture of the previous Pro Line 4 family.

The next phase is to rehost avionics functions from electronic modules in a cabinet to software elements on a single processor. The new architecture will allow hardware to be upgraded without affecting the software, and new software functions to be added without changing the hardware, the company says.

Collins expects to complete development of its new processor architecture within three years. Work has already begun on the next step - a new graphical user-interface designed to make it easier for the pilot to understand what the aircraft and its avionics are doing, the company says. Prototype display formats are being evaluated in the cockpit mock-up.

The Cedar Rapids, Iowa-based company expects the new Pro Line 21 human-computer interface to be introduced incrementally.

Collins, meanwhile, is revamping its general-aviation avionics product range with lighter and cheaper systems, including:

- AHC-3000 attitude/heading-reference computer, using a digital quartz gyro developed by Systron Donner, to be available in mid-1998. Compared with the current mechanical-gyro AHC-80, accuracy is increased and size, weight, power and price reduced;

- TCAS-4000 traffic-alert and collision-avoidance system, with increased, 185km (100nm), range and automatic dependent-surveillance-broadcast capability. Smaller and lighter than the current TCASII unit, and incorporating the latest Change 7 software, the system is to be certificated in late 1998;

- SATCOM-6000 satellite-communication system, using Inmarsat's lower-cost Aero-I service. One-third the weight and half the price of Collins' current SAT-906 Aero-H system, the unit will provide six spot-beam Aero-I or three global-beam Aero-H voice/data channels and is to be available in the third quarter of 1998.

Source: Flight International