In late October, hundreds of Rockwell Collins employees celebrated a significant milestone for a huge project they've been supporting for more than five years - type certification from Brazil's civil aviation authority, the ANAC, for Embraer's KC-390 multi-mission military cargo plane. Following this achievement, project teams at both Rockwell Collins and Embraer are eagerly waiting for the aircraft to reach the Final Operational Capability (FOC) with military certification from the Brazilian Air Force by the end of 2019.
The KC-390 is a next-generation, multi-mission aircraft that combines a highly-flexible platform with the lowest life-cycle cost in the medium airlift market. Originally designed as an aerial refueling tanker, the KC-390 can also perform a wide array of missions, including airdrop of cargo and troops, aeromedical evacuation, search and rescue, aerial fire-fighting and humanitarian aid. It includes Rockwell Collins' Pro Line FusionⓇ integrated avionics system, which has been missionized for military applications, and the company's Cargo Handling and Aerial Delivery Control System (CHADCS).
At the starting line
For Rockwell Collins, the KC-390 program is significant because it marks the first military application of Pro Line Fusion, the company's most advanced integrated avionics system which made its debut in the business jet segment in 2012. It also represents the largest amount of content that Rockwell Collins has had on an Embraer military aircraft.
Rockwell Collins established a program management and engineering team in Brazil that has been fully dedicated to the KC-390 program, and is utilizing the company's Service Center to provide support. Along the way, those employees have celebrated various key milestones for the KC-390, including Critical Design Review, first flight in February of 2015, our FAA TSO in February of 2018 and, most recently, type certification last month.
'We played a prominent role in the certification process for the KC-390 due to the relevance of the Pro Line Fusion flight deck in the overall aircraft development,' said Nelson Silveira, principal account manager for Rockwell Collins in Brazil. 'Together with Embraer, our teams worked diligently to clarify ANAC's items specific to Pro Line Fusion. We are all proud to see the program complete this critical step.'
The road to missionization
As the first successful transition of our Pro Line Fusion avionics system to a military fixed-wing aircraft, the KC-390 is a good example of how Rockwell Collins is leveraging commercial technology for military applications.
'By missionizing proven commercial off-the-shelf technologies such as Pro Line Fusion, we can offer military services cost-effective and easily upgradable solutions for a variety of aircraft platforms,' said Dave Schreck, Vice president and General Manager, Airborne Solutions. 'These leading-edge innovations also come at a fraction of the costs traditionally associated with a clean-sheet, custom-engineered solution.'
Although Pro Line Fusion debuted in the commercial systems market segment, its scalability and flexibility make it highly-adaptable to the needs of the military market. On the KC-390, the system is enhanced to include night vision capability and allow the display of Embraer's unique mission-specific information on the Pro Line Fusion displays. The team is also working on integrating video capability from sensors on the aircraft to the main displays and an additional display will be located in the additional crew member station in the flight deck that can be used for specific mission systems operation.
When Embraer selected Rockwell Collins to provide CHADCS for the KC-390 program, it resulted in a significant increase to our overall content on this platform. CHADCS is a digital control system used to hold, monitor and execute precision airdrop of cargo, vehicles and troops in a variety of tactical methods. The system consists of a loadmaster station with displays and controls, a network of lock control units and control panels to sense inputs, measure force, activate and release locks, along with high criticality software and processing hardware to manage the required automation, safety and precision.
Entering the home stretch
Now that our cockpit is certified on this new tanker/transport aircraft - the largest aircraft ever made in Brazil - Rockwell Collins is working with Embraer to reach entry into service and full operational capability next year for its deployment by the Brazilian Air Force.
'Going forward, we will continue to leverage our strength in the commercial and defense industries - and our R&D investment - by engineering our solutions and architectures to migrate easily between commercial and government applications,' Schreck said.
Story posted: November 25, 2018