Collins displays on 737 Max opens door to retrofit market, advanced visions systems

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Boeing's selection of large format displays on the 737 Max opens the door to a potentially vast retrofit market on the next generation 737 and introduction of new situational awareness technologies for the single-aisle market, Rockwell Collins says.

Collins' 15.1-diagonal large format displays have already been adopted on new Boeing products such as the 787, 747-8 and KC-46, and are available as a retrofit on the 757 and 767, but were only selected for the 737 Max after an intense competition, says Jeff Standerski, vice president and general manager of air transport systems for Rockwell Collins.

The Collins proposal beat a other competitors, including a bid from 737NG cockpit display provider Honeywell. Standerski cited the company's past perforamnce on the 787, 747-8 and KC-46 as a key reason for the contract win.

"Meeting your commitments makes a big difference in customers wanting to work with you in the future," he says.

Boeing will integrate the large displays on the 737 Max using a four-display lay-out, Standerski says. Boeing insured that airline customers were comfortable with the new flight deck, he adds, but the impact on transition training for the crew has been released.

Standerski declined to estimate the lifecycle value of Boeing's order. "As you can imagine, there's a lot at stake here," he says. Although the 737 Max has already picked up 969 orders, Collins may see even a larger sales opportunity in the retrofit market for 737NGs.

"We believe there's an opportunity there," Standerski says, noting that Boeing is already retrofitting the 787 large format displays on the 757 and 767. "That's something we'll discuss with Boeing."

Being selected on the 737 Max does not automatically lock Collins' display into the 737NG retrofit market, Standerski says. "But obviously having this solution and being able to drive commonality and bringing the strength of the partnership certainly would be a very compelling case," he adds.

In the private jet market, large format displays are enabling new situational awareness technologies. Collins has introduced synthetic and enhanced vision systems, which overlay a high-resolution video or radar image on a graphical representation of the ground. Such systems allow aircraft to complete landings in visual conditions that would otherwise be impossible.

Such technology has not drifted into the commercial sector, but Collins says it is being discussed with Boeing.

"Those advanced features, among other operational changes, are things we'll work with Boeing on in the future," Standerski says.