I was among the first journalists to get to see the certified version of Fusion in action when I flew the system on Bombardier’s Global 6000 intercontinental bizjet out of Bradley International Airport in Connecticut recently. The Global 6000 is an amazing airplane (look for a full story on it in a coming issue of Flying), and Fusion, or the “Vision” flight deck, as Bombardier refers to it, fits into the 6000 as it does any airplane, by using the technology and interfaces appropriate to the platform.
In the case of the 6000, that meant HGS on the pilot’s side; graphical, keyboard- and cursor-driven flight management; large-screen PFDs; and multiple large secondary displays, in addition to synthetic and enhanced vision on the HUD plus a wealth of automated checklists, charts, integrated engine and systems utilities and communications utilities. One of the most elegant and useful features is the ability to “window” the displays using a single large display, a half-and-half display or a three-up display, allowing pilots to customize their information or, very importantly, continue viewing a geo-referenced approach chart full-size while keeping tabs on the systems and progress of the flight (among other options).
Interestingly, because of its size, crew makeup and mission, the Global 6000 has a relatively straightforward implementation of Fusion, one that seems perfectly aligned to the 6000’s very long range mission while giving its professional crews everything they need to do the job over land or on long over-water legs while leaving out features they arguably don’t need, such as touch displays and a second HUD, for instance.
While the Global 6000 aptly demonstrates the suitability of Fusion to the high end of the market, Rockwell Collins sees a wide range of applications, from twin turboprops to intercontinental airplanes like the Global 6000. Indeed, a lot of the capabilities of Fusion — such as its easy integration with touch displays, its highly graphical user interface and its chameleonlike reconfigurability — lend themselves to creating effective single-pilot operation solutions, such as the Pro Line 21 retrofit solution that Rockwell Collins announced last year for Hawker Beechcraft King Airs.
Fusion has been announced on more than a dozen airplanes, including the entire Bombardier Global series, the Learjet 85 and Bombardier’s emerging CSeries airliners. Embraer will feature it on its Legacy 450 and 500 midsize airplanes, and Gulfstream will showcase it on the G280.
We’ll likely see many more new airplanes with Fusion as time passes, in part because pilots will love its user-friendly design, cutting-edge features and easy upgradability and in part because manufacturers get built-in efficiencies with Fusion, both when they initially certify it in their new airplane and then each time they look to upgrade it, something that will keep Fusion fresh as the years go on while keeping customers happy.