Avionics News November 2015 - 20
ROCKWELL COLLINS PRO LINE FUSION TOUCHSCREEN
Continued from page 19
of customer and user feedback on all types of systems and technology. With touchscreen technology in particular, one of the
reasons we went in this direction is we wanted to do something
that would dramatically reduce the workload for pilots.
"Our popular Pro Line 21 avionics suite (standard in King
Airs for a long time) is an extremely capable and robust system.
It can do a lot of things. But you have to know how to use the
"With Fusion touchscreen, once you experience it for a few
minutes, it's intuitive for the user. That's especially important
in the King Air market where you have a lot of owner-flown,
single-pilot operators. For them, having workload kept to a
minimum means a safer journey, and more time to enjoy the
thrill of flying."
Since a video is worth 10,000 words, you can personally
review a library of Fusion operational clips on Rockwell Collins' YouTube channel at www.youtube.com/user/RockwellCollinsVideo.
Tweaking the touchscreen
Bernstein said that while all the pilots surveyed during the
development of the Fusion upgrade for the King Air were positive about touchscreens in the cockpit, they were frequently
asked about how the system would operate in turbulence.
To answer, Rockwell Collins designed the Fusion largeformat displays to mitigate the effects of turbulence.
"For most people, their only experience with a touchscreen
is on a consumer device like an iPhone or iPad," Bernstein said.
"These type of units use what's called a capacitive touchscreen.
As you know, it's sensitive to touch. It's fine for an in-hand application, but not so good for an airplane's instrument panel."
He explained that when Rockwell Collins developed Fusion,
it used a "resistive touch" technology for the displays. It takes
more than a light touch and swipe to activate the screens.
"It takes a deliberate touch to select an icon on the screen,"
Bernstein said. "Once you do it, it's second nature. We've not
had anyone specifically comment on the difference."
Along with the resistive touch displays, Rockwell Collins'
engineers also designed special bezels that combine a higher
edge with "special gripping properties" that allow you to easily
anchor your hand and use your fingers to select the various
From first-hand experience, once you're sitting in the left
seat, everything works as you'd expect. Your hand goes here.
Your fingers reach there. You select what you want. It's much
ado about nothing.
But what about those bumpy, back-teeth-rattling kind of
days? Being the proverbial belt and suspenders kind of ad20
vanced, user-oriented engineering company it is, Rockwell
Collins also has included two different kinds of keypad control
panels for the Fusion displays.
"The system has two cursor control panels and a central,
multifunction keypad," Bernstein said. "You can interact with
the entire system by just using the buttons and CCP. Some pilots
feel it's easier for them in turbulence. Some prefer the touch
controls. With our system, you get your choice."
With the turbulence issue well in hand, about the only thing
left for pilots to wonder is cleaning the touchscreens. Admittedly, when the sun hits any aircraft display, those unsightly
smudges can be disconcerting.
Rockwell Collins is one touch ahead. Bernstein explained
that along with a proprietary oliophobic (oil resistant) screen
coating, the company has included a switch in the package that
enables pilots to turn off the touchscreen capabilities on each
individual display so they can clean the panels with no worries
of inadvertently changing any settings or functions.
What's behind the King Air Fusion upgrade?
While it's obvious the team at Rockwell Collins has been
spot on in the development of the Fusion integrated avionics
suite, your first look at the three large displays installed in the
King Air shows just how well thought it truly is.
The first thing you notice is that this is not one of those
"rip everything out and put our stuff in" type of installations.
Frankly, there is a surprising amount of OEM instruments,
panels, switches and knobs right where any experienced King
Air pilot would expect them to be.
Bernstein said that Rockwell Collins chose to create the Fusion upgrade STC along a least-invasive path.
"Whether equipped with Pro Line 2 or Pro Line 21, we
utilized the most solid-performing equipment already on
the King Air to make installation less invasive," he said.
"There are a lot of systems in that airplane that are extremely
capable, so there's no need to change them just for the sake
"One of our competitors replaces all the aircraft's original radios with new. Technically, they are new, but they are
lower wattage than what's in the airplane now. Our philosophy is, why take out a more powerful radio that's better and
more reliable for the operator? People know our radios don't
break, so why change them."
Bernstein stressed the King Air Fusion STC will systematically include changing equipment that will provide the performance and capabilities that next-generation aircraft and
airspace will require. He also said the list of which hardware
gets changed varies by whether the King Air is currently
equipped with the Pro Line 2 or Pro Line 21 avionics suite.
"For example, with Pro Line 2, we're having to change
out all the legacy CRTs and other steam gauges and replace