Graphic: RFDS B350 Fusion

A new vision in aviation

Date published

03 Aug 2017

The RFDS (Queensland Section) has made Australian aviation history after taking delivery of the Proline Fusion cockpit flight display technology, the first of its kind in the country. Deputy Head of Flying Operations, Clayton Nankivell explains.

Over the past six months, we have seen the introduction of the latest addition to our aviation fleet - the Beechcraft KingAir B350. For those of you who have been keeping up with our movements in this space, you will be aware that this new aircraft variant allows us to fly greater distances with a reduction in the need to refuel, while also carrying more patients at once with a three stretcher configuration - a first for the RFDS in Queensland.

While both of these factors are already proving themselves in regards to improved levels of patient care delivery, we are also proud to show a new piece of technology to add to our aviation quiver.

Graphic: Fusion cockpit

Two of the four new B350s are equipped with the latest in avionics technology called the Proline Fusion flight display. It's supplied by our avionics partner, Rockwell Collins and we are delighted to say that we are the first to use this specific piece of technology in Australia.

The Fusion system replaces legacy systems with state-of-the-art synthetic vision screens, displaying 3D models of the surrounding terrain and aircrafts. All of the screens also have touchscreen functionality, similar to an iPad.

The Fusion cockpits allow our pilots to spend more time flying with their heads up and their eyes forward. Our fleet of KingAir B200s are all fitted with the Proline 21 systems. These are more traditional cockpits, which require our pilots to spend a lot of time programming flight systems and coordinates. The improved functionality of the Fusion system means we can now simply touch a location on the screen to identifying our destination.

The system also gives us far better visibility in poor weather conditions. Mountains, other aircraft, and approaching runways are all now depicted as 3D images on the monitors, allowing us to get a better view of our surroundings; an extremely useful tool considering some of the locations we fly to throughout Queensland.

Considering we also operate a one pilot system in Queensland, this technology gives us an increased array of easy to use tools right where we need them, making our job much easier and safer. I experienced this first hand when I had the privilege of flying the first of our B350s fitted with the technology from the factory in the United States back to Australia, flying in to unfamiliar airports, many of which are far busier than what we're used to in Queensland.

This technological upgrade is just another way we are improving the safety of our pilots, medical crews, and our patients, and one which we are extremely excited about training our current pilot fraternity to use now and into the future.