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FARNBOROUGH: Rockwell, Boeing to offer 757/767 cockpit upgrade

Rockwell Collins, is teaming up with Boeing to offer a comprehensive 787-based cockpit upgrade to legacy 757 and 767 aircraft starting in mid-2014.

The cockpit will feature three 38cm (15.1in) active matrix liquid crystal displays in landscape format taking the place of six cathode ray tube (CRT) displays, as well as numerous analogue instruments. Optional equipment will include a Rockwell Collins HGS-6700 head-up guidance system with synthetic vision, a feature that will also be available on the head-down displays.

The flightdeck will also include automatic dependent surveillance-broadcast (ADS-B) "in" applications, controller-pilot datalink, airport taxi maps, and surface guidance.

Rockwell Collins will hold the STC for the upgrade, but both companies are risk-sharing partners in the effort, says Colin Mahoney, vice-president, sales and marketing for commercial systems at Rockwell Collins. Boeing will offer the upgrade as a forward-fit option for its production-line 767s "based on market demand", Mahoney adds.

The launch customer for the upgrade has not been identified, but Mahoney says the work will involve a fleet of aircraft. The timing suggests a possible connection to 19 new Boeing 767-300 Freighters that FedEx will receive from the airframer between 2015 and 2019.

Rockwell Collins is also providing the flightdeck to Boeing for the US Air Force's KC-46A tanker programme, an aircraft based on the 767. Mahoney says there is "synergy" between the two programmes but the retrofit is not being paced by the Air Force programme, which is set for first deliveries in 2016.

"Any 757 and 767 operator that has longevity beyond five years for the platform [is a] candidates for this equipage," says Mahoney of the 1,600 Boeing 767 and 757 aircraft currently in operation. "We see carriers, whether passenger or freight, as strong candidates for this upgrade."

He says the company has made good progress in the development phase for the upgrade. "It's something we've been percolating for a long time on the back of tech reapplication strategy," he says.

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