Air Transport World

Rock-steady Collins. (Rockwell International Corp.'s Collins Avionics and Communications Div.) (Company Profile)

It was a blow to the pride of Collins Avionics, If nothing else, when Boeing gave Honeywell the nod to build the heart and circulatory system for the 777's electronics suite, the Airplane Information Management System (AIMS).

Collins has been and remains one of the prime movers in the incredibly fast-moving field of aviation electronics, where a 5-year-old design is considered passe. The name Collins is so closely linked to air-transport avionics that to many in the industry, they are synonymous. In the past 15 years, Collins has been no less aggressive and innovative than in its early years, pushing into new territory, creating the first completely glass cockpits in the Boeing 767/757 development. Today, estimates are that Collins accounts for some 40% of all civil air-transport-avionics sales.

Collins elbowed its way into a close relationship with Boeing after missing out on the first generation jet cockpits, coming on strong in the next several go-rounds. But now, with Honeywell having the rail position on McDonnell Douglas programs, Airbus closely wedded to Sextant Avionique for its cockpits (see article, page 78), and Honeywell horning in on Collins's Boeing turf, one would think the company might be worried.

Well, concerned, perhaps. Worried? Hardly.

"We had all the current Boeing cockpits and were deeply into the 747-400 cockpit development when the bid for 777 contracts came out," said Shannon M. Murchison, Collins Air Transport Division VP-marketing. "Honeywell was not as occupied as we were and Boeing thought they were somewhat ahead of us on LCDs" for flatpanel displays. "We would have liked the AIMS but we got [the foundation for] Electronic Library System (ELS), the flight controls and the standby instruments." Murchison believes that Boeing's selection of Collins flat-panel LCD standby flight instruments and 6 x 9-in. displays as part of the Maintenance Access Terminal and side-display terminals is more than sufficient proof that its flat LCDs are second to none.

Of course, there are production-line contracts for supplier-furnished equipment (SFE) after the 777 and already, Collins is focusing on the next big fight--with the emphasis on BIG, as in Boeing's consideration of a post-747-400 large-aircraft design. …

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