Rockwell Collins donates flight-test aircraft to Evergreen Aviation & Space Museum

Company’s Sabreliner 50 jet helped shape modern avionics, including weather radar and traffic collision avoidance.

Rockwell Collins’ North American Sabreliner 50 flew approximately 8,000 hours and logged more than 5,000 landings. (Image: Rockwell Collins)

Rockwell Collins recently donated and delivered its North American Sabreliner 50 flight-test aircraft to Evergreen Aviation & Space Museum in McMinnville, Ore. The museum is home to many historic commercial and military aircraft, including the famous Howard Hughes H-4 Hercules “Spruce Goose”.


Rockwell Collins’ 1964 Sabreliner Model 50 (tail number N50CR), acquired by the company (Rockwell International, Collins Division at the time) in 1976 and based in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, was utilized for many significant flight-test projects that helped shape modern commercial and military avionics. The aircraft was flown approximately 8,000 hours with more than 5,000 landings.


“For any pilot, the process of grounding an aircraft is emotional, especially knowing, in this case, what Rockwell Collins’ Sabre contributed to the aviation industry,” said Ivan McBride, director, Flight Operations for Rockwell Collins. “At the same time, we’re delighted that it will continue to live in a wonderful environment like Evergreen that is dedicated to educating, promoting and preserving aviation history.”


Rockwell Collins performed many modifications to the Sabreliner 50, including its unique-looking, custom-made interchangeable large nose radome to house airborne weather radar. The radar technology developed for Rockwell Collins’ market-leading MultiScan™ Threat Detection System, including forward-looking wind shear and turbulence detection, was proven on N50CR. These systems are now flying on more than 5,000 aircraft around the world and are standard equipment on a host of new aircraft platforms. Adding previous-generation and other airborne weather radar variants developed using N50CR, Rockwell Collins has delivered approximately 40,000 systems for air transport, business and military aircraft.


Other notable flight-test projects completed using the aircraft include the development of Rockwell Collins’ Traffic Collision Avoidance System (TCAS II) technology, which is required on most commercial and business aircraft today for alerting pilots of potential collision with other aircraft. Also, enhanced vision systems were developed for aiding flight crews in low-visibility conditions near the ground.


Many factors were considered in Rockwell Collins’ decision to retire the aircraft, including the age and associated maintenance cost of the aircraft and the company’s streamlined approach to workflow. Future flight testing of Rockwell Collins’ avionics systems and solutions will be transitioned to other aircraft in its fleet, primarily its Bombardier Challenger 601.


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