Rockwell Collins has completed its acquisition of B/E Aerospace, but now faces its own acquisition journey with UTC.
Richard Nordstrom, Director, Global Air Transport Cabin Systems Marketing, Rockwell Collins, said: “We’re progressing with our integration work with B/E Aerospace, which is giving us lots of new opportunities.”
With the acquisition, Rockwell Collins expanded its portfolio with a wide range of cabin interior products for commercial aircraft and business jets, including seating, food and beverage preparation and storage equipment, lighting and oxygen systems, and modular galley and lavatory systems.
“Now renamed as Rockwell Collins Interior Systems, together we’ve gone from 20,000 to 30,000 employees,” Nordstrom said.
“It also gives us new opportunities around what I like to call the ‘Internet of Cabin’ or IOC.
“These could help with preventative maintenance and much more. For example, a temperature monitor on a coffee machine could detect an anomaly and notify maintenance staff automatically before it actually fails.”
But there’s more to come. Earlier this month UTC announced its intent to acquire Rockwell Collins and combine the company with United Technologies Aerospace Systems to create Collins Aerospace Systems. The transaction should complete around mid 2018, subject to regulatory and other approvals.
Collins Aerospace Systems will have annual sales in excess of $20bn, and 70,000 employees worldwide.
Rockwell Collins was celebrating another Inmarsat GX inflight connectivity win at the APEX Expo. The deal with an unnamed ‘Asia Pacific carrier’ (thought to be SpiceJet), joins the other wins with Norwegian Air Shuttle and Air Astana.
“That makes us one of Inmarsat’s most successful value-added resellers for GX, but these wins are just the start,” said Nordstrom.
On display at the booth was its CabinConnect wireless IFEC system. Rockwell Collins says it is addressing the growing passenger demand to be connected on their own devices while flying.
CabinConnect is a fully-integrated system supporting the latest generation of high-bandwidth connectivity, which can stream content to more than 300 passengers.
It is available for both linefit and retrofit on a range of aircraft types including the Boeing 737 MAX, B787 and B767.
As well as CabinConnect, Nordstrom was also keen to talk about its new electronically steered array (ESA) satellite antenna in both Ku and Ka variants.
“Get Connected” first saw a mock-up model of the Rockwell Collins’ ESA antenna a year ago (see video), but progress has been swift.
Notoriously difficult to design and usually with a high price point, Rockwell Collins says its 12 years’ experience in designing ESA antennas for the military means it has a big advantage.
The antenna uses beam-forming techniques to bend the microwave beam onto the satellite, with multiple network and frequency capabilities in one antenna coming in later versions.
ESA antennas will also come into their own when the next-generation of low-Earth orbit (LEO) and mid-Earth orbit (MEO) satellites come into play.
Their ability to be able to quickly acquire the next satellite before it loses the first one, and all without any moving parts, means ESA is the way to go.
The Ku-band ESA antenna is being designed for use by OneWeb, which is building a Ku constellation of more than 900 satellites in Low Earth Orbit (LEO).
When launched, this will be the largest telecommunications constellation in orbit, providing approximately 10 terabits per second of low-latency, high-speed broadband to people around the globe.
The Rockwell Collins ESA antenna weighs only 75lbs and is just two inches tall with an integrated radome to reduce drag and fuel costs, yet it can cover 2GHz of Ku bandwidth.
“Our DO-160 qualified ESA flat panel antenna is lightweight, has no moving parts and will support 50-70Mbps connections right now” Nordstrom said.
“Its mean time between failures (MTBF) will also be massively better than existing mechanically-steered designs, it will work for up to 20 years and should be capable of up to 400Mbps as it is developed over time.
“But overall, our commercial ESA antenna will be competitively priced and offer great performance,” Nordstrom concluded.