Rockwell Collins initiates future flightdeck concepts based on integrated systems
RC's Ascend has far-reaching capabilities to fuse ops, cabin and mx info, using panoramic displays and touchscreens.
Ascend information solutions will provide means for an aircraft to update databases and information automatically for all phases of flight.
Pro Line Fusion will be standard on the Global XRS and 5000, and Bombardier will be the first to sport SVS on a HUD. HUD with a combined vision system (CVS)—ie, SVS and EFVS—will be selected by the pilot individually at first. Later "fused" EVS/SVS imagery on the HUD will be a post-delivery technology insertion.
Ascend information solutions
Aircraft performance developments in speed and range have made it so that corporate aviation can go almost anywhere on Earth.
The problem now is reliable global reach communications for all aspects of the mission. Introduction of Ascend for flight departments offers potential for both new operational capabilities and business tools for the cabin.
For the professional pilot, at some point in time the work of just flying and being a friendly helper morphed to being a catering specialist, international relations manager, fuel miser and accountant.
As flight departments expanded to facilitate the support role, personnel costs came into play, and recently many have been forced to reduce manpower while maintaining the same level of service.
Ascend flight information solutions have hardware aspects as well as business processes designed as a single-point source for the flight department and crew for all data and service activities.
Rockwell Collins has designed Ascend to be "scalable to the size and needs of an individual flight department." These solutions are very wide ranging, and include everything needed for managing an aircraft in today's environment. So, rather than having multiple sources and suppliers like in the early days of cell phones, the Internet, cable TV, e-mail services and Web browsers, you just have one.
A crew will also be able through a secure website to manage services, which can be added or subtracted. An example use of Ascend is the taming of the mixture of technology and business support you may have for a single international flight. Staying on top of enroute weather, GPS RAIM to ground handling arrangements would be normal crew tasks in the course of the flight.
Rockwell Collins is the first to demonstrate SV operations on a HUD to provide better pilot situational awareness.
Dealing with the costs and bills after the trip of multinational airspace, landing and overflight permits, security, agents and communications is a lot of paperwork that will now be consolidated in one place.
Rockwell Collins says that billing and card statements will be simplified from a single source, to include their all-inclusive pricing and billing model for Ascend fees, third-party fees and fuel costs, eliminating many line item fees typically charged by other providers.
Another new element of Pro Line Fusion and Ascend is the ability to provide system software and database updates directly to the aircraft through a wireless data update. Updates for a host of things—electronic charts, airport databases and other forms of electronic information—require management.
The automatic connection and update service of the aircraft through Ascend will eliminate having to go to the Internet to download an update, or receiving one in the mail and doing a manual update to the aircraft.
What is also encouraging about the new Ascend database updates is that the technology and process can also be used for the older Pro Line 4 and Pro Line 21. Rockwell Collins has developed a component called the IMS 3500 that provides the connection to a secure user database for automatic FMS updates every 28 days and IFIS updates every 14 days from anywhere.
Maintenance tends to be the domain of either an OEM service center or a select service supplier. Rockwell Collins sees room here in worldwide support by also becoming the single source of online data and management of maintenance information. Database management can be a time-consuming affair if you opt for engine, system and other monitoring concerns.
Ascend System Connectivity
Rockwell Collins will also provide a secure connection or Web portal for crews to review configurations and update status of the aircraft data records—a huge timesaver and a more efficient way of getting the performance of the aircraft to the monitor. This kind of preflight review action—rather than installation and updates—will simplify and standardize these processes for all sizes of operator.
For the business traveler, the integration of Ascend with Rockwell Collins' Venue system means the ability to send and receive data much like a BlackBerry or e-mail service today. As you build your messages, if the aircraft sees you can send, data will be transmitted in the most cost-effective way.
For urgent time sensitive needs, satellite service is there to support. The philosophy here is that, when it's connected to all available sources of information, the aircraft will provide the flightcrew and those in the back with a means to get the most out of all aspects of travel.
Continuous connectivity to what Rockwell Collins calls a "single trusted source" is the backbone of Ascend and the new information system design. Security and user access can provide the traveler with a protected environment for business operations.
The potential for single-aircraft flight departments is in the consolidation of necessary services for day-to-day operations, and the ease with which services can be expanded. For the flight department with multiple aircraft typically scattered to the far corners of the Earth, a single service provides a means for either standardization for price and quality, or varying services by aircraft and mission.
Crews can make changes as needed. Customers may select which offerings meet their needs through a customized Web portal or by a single phone call.