Face-To-Face With Rockwell Collins’s New CEO

By Joseph C. Anselmo
Source: Aviation Week & Space Technology

The high end is pretty good, the low end is not good at all. We attribute that to the [sluggish] nature of the economic recovery. High-end [customers] are predominantly high-net-worth individuals or global corporations, and they're going to fly whether they've got $10 billion or $9 billion. The low end is much different—owner-operators and small businesses. Put yourself in their shoes. You're running a small business, you've laid people off, you're not hiring. Are you going to [order a new] business jet now? Probably not.

What about competition with Garmin? They started at the low end but have moved up into your territory.

We've introduced a new Pro Line Fusion product line to respond to them. It's kind of like an iPad mini-size: weight, power and lower cost for a low-end business jet. Garmin was opportunistic and took some market share from us at Cessna. We didn't have this product line available when Cessna wanted to upgrade those [low-end] aircraft, primarily because they had been investing in a large aircraft, Columbus, and did a 180-deg. turn. Having said that, I don't think we'll see the number of bizjet upgrades during the next five years that we've seen in the last five. We probably aren't going to compete nearly as much with Garmin at the OEMs, at least in the next few years.

Where do you see the unmanned aircraft market heading?

There are some real deficiencies in the operation of UAVs [unmanned aerial vehicles] that are going to provide some good opportunities, such as [enabling] these aircraft to fly in civil airspace. We're working with NASA on developing some new standards and technology for the control links. We're pretty well positioned with the onboard autopilots, navigation and communications equipment. But these avionics solutions are not civil-certified, and there are some real problems learned during the wars [in Iraq and Afghanistan]. They're going to need to have a higher level of assurance and integrity in the avionics, which plays to our strength. But as to the overall market, I don't think you're going to see major production ramp-ups in the next few years.

Kelly Ortberg

Age: 53

Education: B.S. in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Iowa.

Career: Joined Rockwell Collins in 1987 as a program manager.

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