Getting buried by complexity?

Today’s pilots have a lot to think about. Mandates, upgrades, maintenance, checks, keeping passengers happy, staying competitive, staying alert—there’s a lot. With today’s modern avionics systems, operators have increased flexibility to display more information than ever before. So, how does one keep track of all this information without getting buried in complexity?

This is answered by a philosophy that we have adopted in our latest flight decks and includes the following concepts:   

  • Consistently presented controls
  • One- or two-step access to the most frequented menus and functions
  • Shallow Menu Layers that can be accessed without stepping out of previously selected menus
  • Predefined flight deck format selections and layout based on flight phases.

The Direct To dialog box (menu) is an example of how Pro Line Fusion consistently presents controls. The Direct To control is selected directly from the Keyboard (MKP) or within the Flight Management System (FMS) format, and the pilot will always see the same Direct To dialog box. From here, there is no guesswork about how to make the required entries.

Direct To Dialog Box

Need to open a CharEEJ MKPt, FMS format, Checklists, Map Format or something else?  These are just a one-button-push away and will predictably appear in the same location every time. They are available from the keyboard. (Pro Line Fusion® with touchscreens offers a real QWERTY keyboard).

Once inside a given format, the menu depth is kept to a minimum.  Leaving one menu to go to another or leaving one format to go to another will not require “backing out” of the menu.  Just select the other menu of interest or format of interest.

Flight Planning and the FMS
The FMS page is laid out to help with the flight planning process. The latest versions of our Pro Line Fusion FMS software will step the pilots through the typical flight planning process with data entry fields advancing automatically as each step completes.  However, nothing will stop the pilot from leaving a menu at any time or following a different path to accomplish the data entry in a different order depending on how much is already known about the flight plan.

Memorized Flight Deck Display Layouts
The pilots can revert to known flight deck layouts and settings with two-button pushes.  All of the Pro Line Fusion flight decks are preconfigured with layouts that could be typical for operations in a given flight phase such as Taxi, Takeoff, or Cruise.

mem configHas the mechanic been poking around at the maintenance system to load databases while you have been finishing up pre-flight? Upon your return to the fligh
t deck you find that all the formats have been changed and the maintenance format is still displayed, but don’t fret, it’s as easy as “MEM”, “1”, and the displays are set back to the start arrangement.  And it didn’t cost you a lot of brain power. This can apply to a lot of situations, and there are even memorized configurations that you define for your favorite setups.

All functionality, consistently presented, even if there is a failure
Let’s face it, there are bad days when things just don’t go well. Even with the required reliability and redundancy needed for certified avionics systems, there can eventually be a failure. With Pro Line Fusion, a failure should not be a complex event for you as a pilot. Sensor failures are automatically sorted by the system with reversion to known good sensors for air data or attitude, with notification that there are failures. Red flags and quick-button pushing are less of an issue for you.  However, you still have the control to force reversion of sensors if you wish to do so. If a display fails, the other displays will automatically pick up the task at hand and present you with a predictable format. The Pro Line Fusion displays have enough surface area and configurability to help ensure that you don’t lose access to the data you need in generally the same layout that is found when the system is fully functional. There is no need to re-adjust your scan to an unfamiliar layout of a PFD, Engine Indication, or Map format.

So, whether it is the day-to-day operation of the system or dealing with system failures, there are tools available today to help you not get buried in complexity.

We’d like to hear your stories in the comments about situations where things could have been made simpler.

Read more about author Aaron Child.


Cleared for engine start?

“You are ‘go’ for main engines start, 7, 6 – engine start – 3, 2, 1 …” You know where this is going.  My family had the fortune to be personally acquainted with the family of Col. Steven Nagel, and we were lucky enough to see and feel the STS-51G launch in June 1985 up close.  For those who have experienced a launch, you understand what I mean by being able to “feel” it. Although I’ve had the privilege to see other shuttle launches before its retirement – even with 30 years having passed – I’ll never forget that first launch.

IMG_1327Just this past fall, I added another event to my list of personal aviation firsts.  I rode along on my first King Air flight, and by no coincidence, it was equipped with Rockwell Collins’ Pro Line Fusion® avionics. This was a memorable first because I was part of the engineering team that originally put Pro Line Fusion on the Gulfstream G280 and Bombardier Global 5000, and seeing it firsthand in action on the King Air was extremely gratifying.  As an engineer, I had spent a lot of time working with different pilots to help define what would become Pro Line Fusion and this was the first time I saw it flying with my own eyes.  

During the trip, which took place in Europe, we met with several operators and discussed their thoughts on how the aircraft are used, howthe new avionics system can change their way of operating the aircraft, and the particular needs of operators.  It was nice to see the appreciation for the talented people working at Rockwell Collins and all the great thinking that has gone into the Pro Line Fusion design.

 In theIMG_1317 many years that Rockwell Collins has been supplying equipment to the King Air family, a lot has changed. There is no doubt that our participation in the various space programs has helped shape this evolution of technology and operation leading into the avionics now found in today’s cockpits. We are all doing what we can in many different ways to ensure everyone continues to be “go for engine start” with the latest technology available.

I look forward to future aviation and space achievements during my lifetime that will continue advancing humankind the way they have throughout our history. Pro Line Fusion is just another small step for… ah nevermind.  

Read more about author Aaron Child.