Mitsubishi Heavy Industries and avionics manufacturer Rockwell Collins are mid-way thorough a joint conceptual design phase for the Pro Line 21 Fusion-derived flightdeck concept for the 70- to 90-seat Mitsubishi Regional Jet (MRJ) in advance of a formal launch of the programme in March or April 2008. Mitsubishi has also tapped Collins to be the avionics system integrator for the Pratt & Whitney geared turbofan-powered single-aisle jet.

"We have baseline functionalities nailed down," says Dave Wu, director of flightdeck systems marketing for Collins, of the early stages of the work, "but a lot of details have not been nailed down."

Wu says that once Mitsubishi officially launches the programme, the two companies will enter a joint definition phase that will include interface requirements between Collins, Mitsubishi and other system suppliers. Once preliminary and critical design reviews are completed, he says Collins will deliver prototype hardware and a system integration rig to Mitsubishi's facilities in Nagoya, where ground tests and eventually flight tests will take place.

Wu says the proposed system is "architecturally very similar" to the Fusion design for Bombardier's Global Vision flightdeck for the Global 5000 and Global Express XRS business jets, although advanced Fusion features like enhanced and synthetic vision will be options on the regional jet platform. Bombardier expects to certificate its flightdeck in the third quarter of 2010.

Different from the business jet application will be functions to help maximise an air carrier's dispatch reliability. Wu says increased memory and processing speed, compared with legacy Pro Line 21 systems, will give the MRJ enhanced health and diagnostics data capture that can be sent wirelessly to the ground either during or after a flight, depending on the criticality of the data and cost of the link.