A new liquid crystal display upgrade has been launched for Bombardier CRJs featuring the Pro Line 4 flight deck, such as the CRJ 900 pictured here, by Australian avionics manufacturer Thomas Global Systems. Photo: Thomas Global Systems
Bombardier CRJ Series operators have a new cathode ray tube (CRT) to liquid crystal display (LCD) upgrade path available for their ProLine 4 cockpits in the TFD-4000, officially launched by Australian avionics manufacturer Thomas Global Systems, who has also confirmed an unnamed launch customer for the new display.
Thomas Global’s launch of the TFD-4000 follows its 2018 introduction of the similar TFD-7000 series displays currently being installed on Boeing 737, 757 and 767 aircraft, including those operated by TFD-7000 launch customer Delta Air Lines. Now, the company has unveiled its TFD-4000 as a replacement for CRJ Series aircraft that are equipped with the Collins Aerospace Pro Line 4 flight deck.
The operator that was confirmed as the TFD-4000 launch customer, a “prominent North American regional airline,” wishes to remain anonymous at this time, Thomas Global CEO Angus Hutchinson told Avionics International.
“It’s a different product because the Pro Line 4 flight deck is different to the EFIS on the 757 and 737, different interfaces and symbology, but same concept, plug and play replacement for the CRT displays. There’s been some customizing for the CRJ/Pro Line 4 system,” Hutchinson said.
A major goal for the TFD-4000 is to address the obsolescence issues facing aircraft equipped with CRT technology right now, as well as the cost of a full flight deck upgrade. Toshiba, which is currently the only CRT manufacturer left for CRT displays supporting television and aviation applications, is closing the world’s lone remaining CRT factory this year and will only fulfill pre-arranged parts, supply and support commitments beyond that time.
Thomas Global Systems describes the TFD-4000 as a "plug-and-play" upgrade for the Collins Aerospace EFD-4076 CRT display. Photo: Thomas Global Systems
Hutchinson said the TFD-4000 is specifically designed as a drop-in replacement for the Collins Aerospace EFD-4076 CRT display.
“If you make further changes, and contemplate upgrading the whole flight deck, you have to re-train your crew with simulators and operators are sensitive to that type of cost impact," Hutchinson said. "That’s why this solution resonates well because with the plug and play flight deck architecture, there’s no re-training involved. Pro Line 4 is a really good flight deck, and this type of upgrade allows the operator to get the most out of that flight deck by dealing with the real issue which is the obsolescence of CRT technology."
There could be a sizable market to go after with the new TFD-4000 as well. According to information supplied to Avionics by a representative for Thomas Global Systems, there are currently a total of 1,389 CRJs in-service, with North America featuring the highest number, followed by Western Europe. The CRJ 100/200 model has the highest number of individual aircraft types in service right now, followed by the CRJ 900.
“You can have intermix, its a plug and play device and will go side by side with CRTs, so you can have a mixed cockpit if you want to,” Bruce Laird, director of business development for Thomas Global told Avionics.
Laird said Thomas Global is currently working with the launch customer on development and certification of the TFD-4000, and they expect to achieve certification and first deliveries by 2022.