As Captain Nathan Marker, chief test pilot for Nextant Aerospace, readied an upgraded Bombardier Challenger 604 cockpit for its first flight on Sept. 11, the simple and subtle sound of the Pro Line Fusion integrated avionics system starting up could be heard.
After pre-flight checks were complete, the aircraft took off and became the third platform to join the Pro Line Fusion aftermarket upgrade family in the skies.
“The cockpit performed flawlessly today,” said Marker. “The touch-interactive technology is very intuitive and the overall integration provides exceptional situational awareness for the flight crew.”
The Pro Line Fusion upgrade for the Challenger 604 was developed by Rockwell Collins working closely with Bombardier as the original aircraft manufacturer, and Nextant Aerospace as the installation design certification lead. Unveiled at the European Business Aviation Convention and Exposition (EBACE) in May, the avionics install began soon after on a Rockwell Collins-owned Challenger 604 at Nextant Aerospace’s facility at Cuyahoga County Airport in Cleveland, Ohio.
Within three months, the aircraft was ready for takeoff.
“It was an outstanding accomplishment and a testament to the team’s aggressive effort to ensure it will be certified and available to customers by fall 2018,” said Craig Olson, vice-president and general manager of business and regional systems for Rockwell Collins.
Bringing value for years to come
The Challenger 604 is a highly valued, long-haul aircraft that owners will want to keep flying as long as possible. Seeing a need for an aftermarket avionics upgrade program, the joint effort began between Rockwell Collins, Nextant Aerospace and Bombardier.
“Owners will be equipped to fly into the future with this upgrade, meeting upcoming aviation mandates while bringing advanced technology to their flight deck,” added Olson.
“We’re very much in step with the needs of our customers and operators, and we can seamlessly tailor this installation to their planned down-times by pairing it with a major inspection,” said Jean-Christophe Gallaher, vice-president and general manager of customer experience at Bombardier Business Aircraft. “The Pro Line Fusion upgrade enhances the cockpit experience on board the Challenger 604 with state-of-the-art technology and innovative functionality.”
The upgrade replaces factory-installed CRT displays with three 14.1-inch widescreen displays that feature advanced graphics for a modernized flight experience. Touch-interactive maps with eyes-forward flight planning, real-time onboard weather radar overlays and special-use airspace all add to a significant gain in situational awareness.
It is the only turn-key solution for the Challenger 604 that provides a baseline of equipment for operating in modern global airspace through ADS-B compliance, optional FANS compliance, SBAS-capable GNSS, localizer performance with vertical guidance (LPV) approaches, radius-to-fix (RF) legs, synthetic vision and more.
“Having worked on several programs in the past, I’m most impressed by the forward fit nature of this integration. Historically, retrofit applications have lacked some of the functionality that can be found with the latest technology seen on new production aircraft,” said Marker. “The Pro Line Fusion cockpit not only addresses pending regulatory and obsolescence requirements that the Challenger 604 is facing, [but] it also provides the flight crew with the absolute latest in forward fit technology.”
Once certification is complete, the upgrade can be performed at Nextant Aerospace and Bombardier service centres.