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AUSA 2021: Insight on Collins’ New Customer Experience Center

‘A Cool Proof-of-Concept Environment’

In an exclusive interview, John Esposito, VP of Strategic Pursuits at Collins Aerospace, and Harold Tiedeman, the company’s Future Vertical Lift Chief Engineer, offer additional insight on the recently-opened Customer Experience Center (CEC) in Huntsville, AL.

Collins invested in this centre following analysis of several key Army priorities that it believes will persist well beyond this decade: the service’s ‘Fly Before You Buy’ acquisition strategy, which will provide mature technologies that industry can introduce to support the legacy fleet and the new FVL platforms; and a second, two-part requirement for the reduction of size, weight, power and cost of materiel, and use of the (now mandatory) Modular Open Systems Approach (MOSA).

The new centre serves as a testbed, allowing Collins to highlight its architectures and their synergies with industrial partners and the US Army’s capabilities, among other issues – helping to advance new products, systems and technologies. Tiedeman specifically called attention to the significant investment in infrastructure, supporting a robust digital backbone and enabling capabilities, including the MOSARC avionics architecture. One of the returns on investment on this focal point will allow the company to respond to, and even remain ahead of, the definition of MOSA, “which has evolved over the last 20 years […] And we’re taking other major steps to address MOSA, not just updating the standards that we’re conformant with, many things like FACE [Future Airborne Capability Environment] for software environment, HOST [Hardware Open Systems Technologies] for hardware environment, and model-based engineering for interfaces.” Esposito added that “It’s really important to talk about what the Army is trying to do with MOSA – establish an architecture on their aircraft that is open and allows easy integration of new functionalities from different vendors. No one company is going to have the best solution,” although he points out that the ‘best of the best’ will come from the right products being demonstrated, with all features required to provide optimum mission solutions. Enter the new CEC. “What we’re trying to do with this facility is have a MOSA testbed environment with a helicopter mockup, a full-flight simulation capability” and other enabling features, with the intent for Collins’ partners to “come in and test out how that new functionality is integrated into the airplane. This is where this becomes a cool proof-of-concept environment for Collins and our industry partners.

Marty Kauchak reporting from Washington, DC for MON

The CEC's infrastructure includes a cockpit, allowing the facility to serve as a testbed and help advance new products, systems and technologies. (Photo: Collins Aerospace)

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