Electronic flight bags to be installed across fractional operator’s fleet in 10-year deal with Rockwell Collins
Rockwell Collins is finalising a 10-year contract with fractional operator NetJets for a fleet-wide eFlight information management system as business aviation moves to embrace paperless cockpits.
“We are developing information management solutions for new aircraft, but we also have to create a solution for operators with legacy aircraft fleets,” says Bob Chiusano, executive vice-president and chief operating officer Rockwell Collins Commercial Systems.
Under the contract, Collins will supply dual Class 2 electronic flight bags (EFB) for installation across multiple aircraft types. A cellphone-based wireless communications link will enable the electronic distribution and loading of database updates, electronic document distribution, and reporting of database and document status. Crews will be able to view charts and manuals on the EFBs.
Collins will be responsible for obtaining supplemental type certification (STC) of the EFB installations on types operated by NetJets, equipping the fractional’s fleet within three years and supporting the airborne and ground systems used for database and document management and reporting.
Although the initial implementation uses a GPRS cellphone link to transmit data while the aircraft is on the ground, Collins plans to provide eFlight information management via its Exchange business-aviation version of Connexion by Boeing’s broadband satellite communications service. Announced in 2003, Exchange is expected to become available in the second or third quarter this year, initially on Bombardier Global business jets.
Collins is also leading the charge to equip business aircraft for paperless cockpits. The company has received paperless flight operations approval for the Bombardier Challenger 601 upgraded with its Pro Line 21 flightdeck, and is supplying paperless-capable Pro Line 21 systems for the Bombardier Learjet 60XR, Challenger 605 and Gulfstream G150.
Approval to remove paper charts from the cockpit requires dual-redundant displays, controls and databases. In the 60XR and G150 paperless capability can be achieved by installing the optional second file-server unit for Collins’ integrated flight information system (IFIS), while in the 605 it is provided as standard by combining one IFIS file server with an EFB side display.
Honeywell, meanwhile, is still developing paperless capability for its Primus Epic integrated avionics. Epic applications with large “dumb” displays, including the Dassault EASy and Gulfstream PlaneView business-jet cockpits, will require a hardware upgrade, the company says, while its next generation of smaller displays will be able to host the carts, maps and terrain databases in the graphics processor.
GRAHAM WARWICK / WASHINGTON DC
Source: Flight International