Airbus has selected Rockwell Collins to supply the Ethernet avionics communication infrastructure for the A380. The ultra-large airliner will be the first commercial aircraft with a full Ethernet avionics network.

Collins will be the sole source of the switch which will manage traffic on the A380's 100Mbits/s avionics full duplex (AFDX) network. There will be "eight to 10" switch modules in the aircraft, says Steve Piller, general manager, Collins Air Transport Systems.

The US company was selected over France's Thales to supply the switch. "This is our first standard-equipment position on an Airbus," says Piller. "Airbus is opening up its supplier base. It was a very even-handed competition."

The Ethernet network for the A380 is 1,000 times faster than the ARINC 429 avionics databus in other Airbus aircraft.

Collins developed a limited 10Mbits/s Ethernet implementation for the Boeing 767-400ER, but the A380 will be the first airliner with a full 100Mbits/s avionics network.

Using the commercial local-area network standard enables an open avionics architecture, "allowing different suppliers to interface equipment independent of the network specification", Piller says.

ARINC 644-standard flight-critical Ethernet is expected to become the network of choice in commercial aircraft as it gives the bandwidth needed to support future growth in avionics data communications capabilities.

Source: Flight International