Kevin O'Toole/LONDON

SMITHS INDUSTRIES IS licensing its flight-management-system (FMS) software to Rockwell-Collins, allowing the firms to offer an integrated cockpit-upgrade which could be fitted as standard across an airline fleet.

By combining the Smiths FMS, already fitted on Boeing 737s, with Collins AVSAT satellite-based avionics and communications technology, the US company aims to provide the basis for a complete communication, navigation, surveillance and air-traffic-management (CNS/ATM) package.

Norman Barber, chairman of Smiths Industries Aerospace, stresses that the system will be available as a retrofit on a range of airliners, so potentially allowing airlines to achieve greater commonality on CNS/ATM across their fleets.

The co-operation will also apply to bids to integrate avionics into some new production aircraft, says Barber. Collins is working with Smiths to incorporate its FMS into the Fokker 70/100 cockpit, in place of the existing Honeywell system.

Smiths will retain exclusive rights to market the FMS for other aircraft programmes, mainly in Boeing and Airbus, but Barber hopes that the new agreement may provide an introduction to new manufacturers, such as McDonnell Douglas, where Collins is traditionally strong.

The two avionics companies have had a strategic alliance in place since 1992, but this is the first major application of that joint marketing agreement, says Barber.

Under the terms of the deal, Smiths has received a "substantial" up front payment, from Collins for the FMS licence and will continue to be paid royalties on every installation, for the next ten years.

"The rationale is that neither Smiths or Collins could compete effectively across the complete range of cockpit systems," says Barber. "We've now got the opportunity to propose our FMS for aircraft, particularly those already in service, which we really couldn't have addressed."

Source: Flight International